A Dose of Wellness Resources For You

It is our hope that this post finds you, your family and friends, as well as can be. A lot has changed over the course of the last month and we are encountering steady shifts in our lives as we navigate a new normal. And real talk, navigating this global crisis is stressful. Over the last few weeks, our team has been digging deep into our toolboxes of care practices as well as articles and resources we’ve gathered from other individuals via the internet. We hope this list of resources can help ease the various levels of mental and emotional stress that we are all encountering during this difficult season. Please take what you need and feel free to share with us if you have any additional resources. 

Be well.


Resources from TBP

The Beautiful Project Journal is our annual publication where we share insights on the inner workings of Black girls and women. In this third issue, we interrogated the nuances of self-care, exploring the necessity of collective care, and sharing tools and strategies on how to pursue wellness and healing for ourselves and each other. You will find articles and images that capture the themes of sisterhood, liberation, healing, and transformation.


Other Great Resources

For Black Girls Everywhere – A Relaxing Mediation

Evelyn From The Internets is a digital storyteller with a humorous personality. Her youtube page has a plethora of videos that will make anyone giggle. Most recently, she created a short documentary about the stress that Black girls encounter in schools and the power of mindfulness that can help combat mental stressors. As a result, she partnered with Lauren Ash, Founder of Black Girl in Om, to create a beautiful and relaxing mediation for young Black girls.

Remember to Breathe by Teni Ayo-Ariyo

Our friend Teni, who is a dynamic writer from our writing circle, wrote a helpful article about how she is managing stress and anxiety during this time by practicing the lessons she learned as a yoga instructor. She outlined really great techniques. Here’s an excerpt:

Two years ago I embarked on a journey to become a yoga teacher. I was getting ready to move across the country for business school, and wanted to develop a new wellness routine and mindset before going through a huge transition. During training, I learned the fundamentals of yoga, as well as the connection between my body, mind, and soul. I learned how to take care of myself holistically and picked up tools to help me maintain a life of wellness. Needless to say, the 200-hr one month training was a transformative experience, and now, more than ever, I find myself leaning heavily on some of these principles during the current pandemic.The panic and anxiety brought on by coronavirus and quarantining can be crippling. To stay grounded and sane, I am finding solace in these lessons from Yoga Teacher Training.

Check out her full article here.

Young Poets Contest hosted by Shaunna Barbee

Shaunna is another friend of TBP, author, educator, and member of our writing circle Maya’s Room. For the month of April, which is National Poetry Month, Shaunna is hosting a contest for young writers, ages 10-18 years old, to write and submit a poem about the impact of this pandemic on their lives. Their will be a cash prize for the chosen poem. The deadline is April 30th. You can find more details here.

Therapy for Black Girls

The Therapy for Black Girls podcast hosted by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford is a great resource for mental health and personal development for Black women. In one of her recent episodes, Session 147: How Are You Doing?, Dr. Joy shares great tips on how to make sense of how we may be feeling in this season.

Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety: A Project by Shine

Shine is an app that is designed to make self-care easy with motivational messages, meditations, and resources to address anxiety and depression. The app is worthy to check out in general, but specifically for this moment, Shine released a comprehensive digital toolkit, Care for Your Corona Anxiety , that is full of resources from mental health experts, coping strategies to manage fear, and tools to address outcomes such as isolation and financial anxieties.

Black Womxn United has a plethora of virtual support gatherings that range from homeschooling 101 to yoga. Check them out!

For everything, there is a time and a season. And now, it is time to rest.

During the month of July, the women of The Beautiful Project will take some time to realign with ourselves and our purpose, reconnect with our hobbies, our gifts, our people and remember who we are and why we do this work. We are a collective of scholars and artistic activists careful not to leave ourselves out of the work we engage for Black women and girls. We believe in practicing regular rhythms of rest while we work and we also know that there must be times of refreshing, where the focus is the rest.

As we close our doors and our eyes, for just a little while, we challenge you to figure out your rest rhythms. What are the practices you have in place to offer yourself respite in the middle of the fullness of your life? Deeper, how do you intentionally take time away from it all to burrow in simplicity and comfort so that you can experience physical, mental and emotional rest?

Whether you choose to meditate or sit outside in the summer heat with your face to the sun for just a few minutes each day, simple practices like these can offer so much peace and joy for the journey in those moments when walking away is not an option. But please figure out a way to walk away because restoration is its own kind of work and thus needs its own space to be carried out well.

The world moves to a steady hum. Whether we provide instrumentation by way of the contributions we make through our work and other efforts, the hum penetrates consistently, relentlessly. More simply stated, life goes on, with or without us. So, let’s take care of ourselves. It’ll be there when we get back and if it isn’t, it either wasn’t ours or wasn’t time. Identify the “it” that threatens to hinder your ability to rest and reposition the energy it consumes.

Take the time you need to give yourself the love you need.

There’s only one you. Love her well.

See you in August.

 

Words by Pamela Thompson

Photo by Kaci Kennedy

The internet is rich with wellness affirming resources for Black women and girls. Below we curated some of our favorite online spaces for resources, inspiration and advice relating to wellness and lifestyle. Check them out and let us know where you go for wellness resources!

 

Therapy for Black Girls
IG: @therapyforblackgirls
https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com
Dr. Joy Harden Bradford is a psychologist out of Atlanta who runs this phenomenal online space to encourage Black women and girls’ mental wellness.  In addition to hosting a podcast and weekly online chats exploring various mental health topics, she provides awesome tools for finding your own therapist!

 

Blackgirl ln Om
IG: @blackgirlinom
www.blackgirlinom.com
Black Girl in Om is holistic wellness platform for women of color focused on sharing wellness practices and affirming self-love, self-care and self-empowerment. Besides following them on Instagram and listening to their podcast, I highly recommend visiting their website and basking in the beautiful and inspirational images of Black women experiencing wellness.

 

 

 

 

Dear Black Women
IG: @dearblackwomen
www.dearblackwomenproject.org
This affirmation movement was begun by Florence Neal who wanted to create safe spaces for Black women by Black women. Visit the website to learn about upcoming events, read the affirmations of the week, listen to the podcast or even share your own affirmation!

 

Alexandra Elle
IG: @alex_elle
alexelle.com
We love us some Alex Elle! From her insightful “hey, girl” podcast focused on sisterhood and storytelling, to the vulnerability she shares on her Instagram account as she navigates entrepreneurship, motherhood, relationships and self, this writer teaches us how to love ourselves more.  

 

 

 

Gettin’ Grown
IG: @gettingrownpod
https://soundcloud.com/gettingrown
Gettin’ Grown is a podcast hosted by two 30-something year old Black women who are figuring out adult life. Their conversations engage a range of topics including financial, relational, and emotional wellness.  

 

 

 

 

Food Heaven Show
IG: @foodheavenshow
foodheavenmadeeasy.com
These dieticians provide advice, ideas, recipes and resources for pursuing nutritious and delicious living. In addition to their website and Instagram account, their podcasts explores a variety of wellness related topics. Y’all, nutritious living never looked so good!

 

 

 

 

Living Over Existing
IG: @livingoverexisting
www.livingoverexisting.com
This resource offers excellent advice for Black women entrepreneurs. Listen to their podcast or visit their site for strategies for taking care of self and business!

 

 

 

 

Black Minimalists
IG: blkminimalists
www.blackminimalists.com
For those of us interested in cultivating wellness in our lives through simplicity and intentional community, Black Minimalists is a great resource. Check out their monthly podcasts for discussions on being black and living a minimalist lifestyle.

 

 

 

Written for TBP by Erin M. Stephens
Cover image courtesy by CreateHer Stock

I am a change maker. I am a healer. I am an activist. I am a supporter, advocate, and educator. I am a labor and delivery nurse. I wear many hats during a 12+-hour shift, but by far, the most prominent is as a Black woman first.

I am reminded of the origins of gynecology, when my ancestors were used as guinea pigs for painful, intrusive procedures and experiments WITHOUT analgesia, because it was “common knowledge” that Black people, especially Black women did not experience pain in the same way as our White counterparts. Recently I have become very introspective regarding this calling on my life. I have begun to think more deeply on the cultural and social implications of my work, and how history has continued to shape the experience of being a patient of color in a system that has never been on our side. Working as a doula led me to Labor and Delivery, with the final goal of midwifery. I was also informed by my grandmother once I began this journey, that her grandmother was a lay midwife and delivered many babies with no formal education. It is ingrained in me; similar to the way that music and dance inhabit my soul. It is inescapable. In a field largely dominated by White women, it is a joy to have patients see a nurse that looks like them that understands them on a deeper level with an unspoken connection. Birth work is intense, exciting, and a true labor of love, and it is of great importance to my identity.

One would (naively) assume that medicine has taken such strides that race should not still be a factor. It is important to note that the highest mortality rate in the U.S. in childbearing belongs to Black women. Regardless of education level and socioeconomic factors, we are three to four times more likely to die, according to the CDC.* Our babies are also disproportionately affected as a result. As highlighted in the documentary “Death by Delivery,” Black women are suffering and no one can explain why. The documentary delves into a simple answer- racism. It is because of racial bias that one of the most recognized, talented, and valued athletes of our time, Serena Williams had to convince her providers that she had a blood clot following delivery, despite having experienced this condition before. What could have happened had she not taken control of her care and insisted profusely that she be listened to?

The silver lining of the current climate of Black maternal health is the recognition that it has gotten. Collectives such as SisterSong and Black Mamas Matter are doing formidable work socially and politically, and Black Maternal Health Week garnered much attention on social media and in numerous areas of the country. The goal is to show lawmakers and change agents why reproductive justice is of such importance. For those unaware of the concept, reproductive justice is defined as “the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social and economic well-being of women and girls based on the full achievement and protection of women’s human rights.” It is with this concept that we hope to aid in destroying disparities. For there to be significant change, it must occur not only at a political level, but also within the hospitals, clinics, and offices where medical care is provided. Providers must eliminate bias from their practice and work to provide equal care across all patient populations.

Until we reach that point, what can we do?  Advocacy and education are the most important factors. If you are pregnant or planning to be, stay abreast of research. Even if you’re not, it is important to be a proponent of your health. Not to the extent that you become addicted to Google and become so consumed in “signs and symptoms” that you become a neurotic mess. Maintain a working knowledge of what is normal and what is not. Seek providers that care for your well being that listen and RESPOND ACCORDINGLY when you have concerns. Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. You know your body more than anyone so when it shows you that something is wrong, listen.

I am confident that we will make significant strides and end this crisis. If you’re interested in doing groundwork there are many avenues to pursue. Find your local reproductive justice organization or simply follow some on social media to stay aware. Read books. Become a doula, or a labor partner. Vote in local and national elections. Advocate for yourself and the women in your tribe. We have the power, strength, and fearlessness of the many women who have come before us. Let’s put it to use.

Resources for further study:

Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts

SisterSong 

Death by Delivery

Black Mamas Matter 

*https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-relatedmortality.htm

Written by Kara Simpson for The Beautiful Project

Y’all know those folks who make you feel good, just being in their company? My friend Ali is like that– she truly possesses the gift of encouragement. We met while working in student affairs at Duke University and became housemates not long after.  As our friendship grew over that year and the years that followed, I found myself in constant awe of her grace, kindness and how thoughtful she was in how she engaged others. When I met her mother a few years later, I felt the same warmth, welcome, and encouragement.  It is no surprise that these women have chosen to make their life work about supporting the mental and emotional well-being of others. We invited them to write a guest blog about ways Black girls and women can experience wellness in their lives. Read below for valuable tips for managing stress and cultivating mental and emotional wellness.

~ Erin


 

Stress is everywhere. Whether it’s the result of micro assaults to your sense of wellbeing or pressure you put on yourself, when the demand exceeds the resources, stress is the result. The 24-hour day of childhood feels measurably longer than the rapid-fire 24-hour cycle of today. Ironically, we are doing more and enjoying life less.

Working for someone else may pay the bills, but the job of taking care of you is the most important job of your life.  As women, we are often the glue that holds our families and communities together. Thus, taking care of ourselves, is not a selfish endeavor, but one that has ripple effects, benefitting our children, partners, friends and neighbors. Learning to manage stress is one of the best skills you can have in your tool box. The constant feelings of stressing and pressing have a way of taking their toll on your body and your life.  Most of us already know about the importance of eating right, getting enough sleep and regular exercise. Listed below are five additional stress management tips to help you achieve more balance in your everyday life.

1. Learn to be mindful. Pay attention to what you fill your mind with. Focus on activities and relationships that are affirming and life-giving.  In our current political climate, the line between staying informed and subjecting yourself to harmful imagery and narratives can be hard to decipher. Be selective, as the mind goes, so goes the rest of you. Monitor your newsfeeds and your media intake and don’t hesitate to take a break.

2.Watch your diet. That includes how much technology you devour on a daily basis, as well as what food you use to fuel your body. Does your diet give you more energy to take care of business or does it make you less energetic and productive?

3. Practice deep breathing on a regular basis. Your breath is a powerful tool to reduce stress and anxiety. Take a deep breath in.  Now let it out.  You may already feel a difference.  Taking a moment for a few slow and mindful breaths can provide you with an opportunity to stop and re-evaluate your current state.  Is this thing I am stressing about, worth my energy? If not, let it go and move on.  If so, channel that energy into coming up with a plan of attack.

4. Live the life you love and love the life you live. It’s your life. Listen to your inner voice first. Then and only then seek the counsel of trusted family and friends. If the dream job is causing your dreams to be nightmares, it’s O.K. to change your mind. We spend a tremendous amount of time trying to get other people to change when the only person you can change is you. Change you and you change the situation.

5. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  We learn to say “No” before the tender age of 2 and then we spend the next twenty years being socialized to be polite and say yes (this is especially true for women). Reclaim your “NO”.  This means setting boundaries and being truthful and honest with yourself and others. Saying yes when the right answer is no may sound good in the moment, and it may even get the accolades of others. However, don’t be surprised when stress starts to creep into your life, and you find yourself feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Not taking responsibility for your choices and blaming others for the outcome of your life is called giving the power for your life to other people. Ask yourself, who have I given my power to? Then go get it back.

It’s your life. Make the most of it. Don’t let stress rob you. Finally, if stress is robbing you on a regular basis, don’t hesitate to call the stress police. A good therapist or life coach should be on your speed dial. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur, invest in your emotional savings account today.

 

Dr. Alexandra Scott and Dr. Sandra M. Hardy are a dynamic mother daughter psychologist team committed to furthering Black women’s wellness.

Over the last few years we have seen a rise in conversations about self-care. And let’s be real, these conversations are so necessary. In TBP, care-for-self is a central value and we create space for regular check-ins around our individual wellness. But we also realized a long time ago that self-care wasn’t enough— we needed to put in practice strategies for collective care.  But what does it mean to pursue wellness in and as a collective?

There have been a few different strategies we have employed over the years to center wellness as part of our collective work as image-activists, such as:

  1. Dedicating group conversations to reflecting on the ways gender, race and other intersecting identities shape our lives and the tensions that arise from these intersections.
  2. Creating spaces for us to experience physical and emotional wellness as a collective. This has included coming together to visit exhibits in a local museum, gathering together over good home-cooked food (shout out to Pamela!), always having feel good music playing at our meetings.
  3. Mobilizing Sisterhood As Activism to care for, cover, defend and hold space for one another.
  4. More recently, reflecting on the emotional labor involved in our image-activist work, which  validates the emotional and mental demand of this work while also affirming the relational and personal benefits that come out of it.

Ultimately, we have realized that a collective-care strategy is about creating and holding space for ourselves and our sisters to be real about our mental and emotional state of being, while also instituting accountability in our sisterhood for engaging in relational and individual care work.

While groups spaces and practices are key to our collective-care, relationships are at the core of this type of care work. It’s those “hey girl, hey” check-ins we do within our group that push past the surface “I’m ok” answers to get to vulnerable truths. It’s in these smaller conversations where we ask, “Did you go outside today?” Or “How are you taking care of yourself?” These conversations can range from easy to difficult, particularly when we see or experience the evidence of self-harm, self-sabotage, or selfishness (disguised as self-care) in our sisters.

Davia Roberts from Redefine Enough (a community of women devoted to wellness and wholeness), talks about the importance of checking-in with our sisters in an episode from their podcast “Affirm.”  She offers tips for having these tough conversations, especially when there are red flags of mental health issues. As we each continue to practice care-for-self, consider, what does it mean to care for my sister? How can I make collective care a part of my care strategies this year? Find the episode, “My Sister’s Keeper” here: https://www.redefineenough.com/blog/ep-13-my-sisters-keeper

written by Erin Stephens for TBP