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Prioritizing My Well-Being

Prioritizing My Well-Being

A Black Woman’s Guide to Self-Care for the Soul

by Valarie Cunningham, LMSW, Founder, BlackWellness Network

Being a Black woman in today’s world is an experience unlike any other. We navigate a complex intersection of race and gender, facing challenges that can take a toll on our mental wellness. From everyday racism and discrimination to stereotypes that paint us as “strong” or “angry,” the weight of these experiences can feel overwhelming.

But here’s the truth: self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s about prioritizing our mental health, cultivating inner joy, and building resilience. And while our overflowing plates might make self-care seem impossible, it’s all about carving out moments to nourish our minds, bodies, and spirits.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Black women are about half as likely to seek mental health care compared to White women.

So, how do we do this?

How do we take care of ourselves and cultivate our own wellness? Here are some self-care strategies that have helped me on my journey to mental health wellness:

  • Black Girl Magic, Meet Therapy: Black women often experience unique mental health struggles. Finding a Black therapist can be transformative. They (male or female) understand our cultural background and can provide a safe space to process emotions and past traumas. Mental health providers may be found through directories like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the BlackWellness Network.
  • Mindfulness on the Move: Meditation might seem intimidating, but it’s all about training your attention and reducing stress. Even 5-10 minutes a day can make a big difference. Guided meditations are available online, some featuring positive affirmations specifically designed for Black women.
    Boundaries are Beautiful: Black women are often natural givers, but constantly saying “yes” can lead to burnout. Setting healthy boundaries is about protecting your peace of mind. It’s okay to say “no” and prioritize your own needs over those of others.
  • Feed Your Soul with Passions: Make time for activities that bring you joy, ignite your creativity, or just make you feel good. Whether it’s reading, crafting, or that travel group you’ve been eyeing, prioritize these soul-nourishing moments.
  • Sisterhood is Strength: Black women are not meant to go it alone. Surround yourself with other Black women who uplift and support you. Sharing experiences and leaning on this sisterhood can be incredibly healing.
  • Digital Detox for a Mental Refresh: Social media can be a highlight reel of other people’s glamorous (or not so glamorous) lives, and the constant highs and lows can take their toll on mental health. Take regular breaks from electronics and give your mind a chance to rest truly.
  • Move Your Body, Boost Your Mood: Exercise is a powerful tool for managing stress and improving mood. Find activities you enjoy, whether a dance class, a brisk walk in nature, or sweating it out at the gym.
  • Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Mind: What we eat impacts our feelings. Focus on a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to fuel your body and support your mental well-being.
  • Sleep is Your Superpower: Aim for quality sleep each night. When well-rested, you’re better equipped to manage emotions and navigate daily challenges. Prioritize a relaxing bedtime routine and create a sleep environment that promotes restful slumber.

Explore BlackWellness Network for valuable information and connect with culturally competent health and wellness professionals.

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential. By caring for ourselves, we become stronger, more resilient versions of ourselves. So, let’s make self-care non-negotiable. Our well-being matters; when our cups are full, we can pour into the world with an even greater purpose.

-Valarie Cunningham, LMSW