Mental health is an issue that is continuously overlooked in the black community. Depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health disorders are rarely talked about. Sometimes, it’s hard to uphold the “strong black woman/man” complex that we’re taught to have from our family members since birth. There is no safe place or Mental Health Anonymous club where we can go and discuss our feelings and emotions of depression, self doubt, and more without judgement or without it being referred to as “that white people shit”. A lot of the time, we tend to bottle up our emotions or self medicate for an issue we should really work on instead.
My first anxiety attack happened during my last semester of college. Somewhere between a comm law textbook and a half ass written essay in my dorm, I was trying to save my ass so I could graduate. The overwhelming mixture of procrastination, stress, and doubt consumed me. My chest caved in, the tears began to flow and my breathe became short. I didn’t know what was happening but most importantly, I didn’t know how to stop it.
I was hoping that’d be my first and last anxiety attack but it wasn’t. There have been times where my anxiety has been so bad that I couldn’t eat. Now that I’m more familiar with my anxiety/stress and what triggers it, I’ve learned a few constructive ways to work through it that may help others who deal with the same thing:
Meditate: Now that it’s 2016, I’ve decided to start and end the day with meditation. Why? Not only does it help bring my anxiety down, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if I don’t have 20 minutes out of my day to work on my mental, then I definitely don’t have time for anyone else and their foolery.
Here’s my favorite video to meditate with:
Talk to your friends: It’s a beautiful thing to have a great support system around you. Sometimes venting to your friends over wine, between bites at brunch, or even a long phone call (if they’re far away) is refreshing.
Do something physical: Whether you play ball with your friends, hit the gym, paint , do yoga, or even write a song, sometimes the best way to get over stress is to take your mind off of it.
Journaling: I carry a notebook with me 24/7. Sometimes I write about little annoyances such as the random man, who feels the need to stare at me on the train from 125th all the way to his stop. Sometimes I write a to do list and plan out my day to keep from “stress procrastinating” (you know, when you have so much to do that you sleep or Netflix the day away until it’s too late?). Sometimes I write about what really bothers me: the disappointments, the “am I doing the right thing” struggle and all the other things most 20 somethings go through.
No matter how big or small the issue is: Once it’s written, it’s out of my head. Once it’s on the paper, I’m over it. Last weekend at the Black Girl Magik workshop, a girl recommended burning the paper after you’re finished. Out of sight, out of mind right?
The best way to combat stress or anxiety?
Address the Fucking problem: It’s great to do things to get your mind off of an issue, but those are only temporary fixes. I’ve noticed that if you aren’t real with yourself and confront whatever it is causing the anxiety, it’ll only resurface. Trust me.
Overwhelmed because of too much work on your plate? Get a planner or calendar, plan your week according to due dates but most importantly, give yourself a couple of days to do nothing or something that you love.
Feeling emotional about the past? Cry, scream, break a glass. No matter how long it takes, go all the way through with your moment and let it all go. It’s hard to move on from certain events from your past, it hurts. Though it’s easier said than done, holding onto things will only make your anxiety worse. Have patience with yourself and don’t be afraid to work on what’s haunting you. Think of the person you were back then in that particular moment, look at the great person you’ve grown to be now, and visualize yourself as the great person you will become. Not overnight, but soon things will get easier.
What are some constructive ways you deal with stress or anxiety? If you ever feel like you need professional help or tips, checkout BetterHelp.