• Brettney Douglas-Al Hindi

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: Three Ways To Find Your Calm During Hard Times

As a black woman, and a creative, I feel the weight of responsibility tugging at my heartstrings, to find the right words to give voice to the collective pain, racial trauma, and devastation we've experienced on all levels. I pride myself on being an encourager and uplifter, and for once, I was speechless; and found myself needing encouragement.

I had to check in with myself and process the fact that "we are living through a pandemic and a historical revolution--and to not beat myself up if my mental health wasn't the best at this moment."

During times like this, our minds are more susceptible to attack, and we can fall into the trap of negative thinking that can cause us to go in a dark place. Now more than ever, it's important to practice self-care.

See, a lot of us are using energy that we've never used before. We're having to search in the depths of our soul to get through our day. I've found myself consumed with worry, fear, and uneasiness in my spirit; low-key bracing myself for the next traumatic event to occur.

Sleep is nonexistent. My skin is breaking out. Hair is a hot mess. The list goes on and on.

Sometimes, it feels like life is in shambles; but the fact that I've made through 100% of my bad days, means that my life still has a purpose because I have breath.

I'm not gonna lie though, the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion is too real.

Sis is tired. Sis needs a vacation. Sis needs a massage. Sis needs a shopping spree. Sis is me. I am sis.

In the midst of all the heaviness and plague of darkness, I've managed to reconnect with something that I've been fighting so hard to come back to, and that was myself.

Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is be real with yourself about how you truly feel, even when it terrifies you.

There were parts of myself that I was uncomfortable to confront, parts of me that I've hidden or shunned because I was ashamed or felt unworthy, or thought was unlovable.

These uncomfortable truths, although they are painful, are necessary.

Going deep inside the recesses of your mind, and sitting with yourself, and finding your calm requires patience, grace, and unconditional self-love.

My typical go-to options for self-care like a quick weekend getaway or a trip to the spa are out of reach, given our current climate, so I had to find other creative ways to provide some comfort.

Here are a few ways that I've been managing my stress and maintaining my peace during hard times:

1. Limit the use/unplug from social media and the news daily

As an empath, its nearly impossible to not feel everything so deeply, especially now. I have literally had to uninstall FB and IG from my phone, to disconnect myself from these platforms for days at a time because some of the images and messages were so triggering that it was causing my stress and anxiety to heighten. It's tough to find a balance between wanting to be informed, and filtering your newsfeed so that you are not triggered by what you see. At the end of the day, you have to prioritize your mental health and protect your peace so that you can think soberly, and be in a good headspace.

2. Practice mindfulness

Making mindfulness a part of my daily routine has been a game-changer. I used to wake up in a hurry, moving in autopilot trying to complete all the tasks on my to-do-list without thought or intention other than to get it done. These days, I've been focused on being more present and waking up with an attitude of gratitude. I dedicate the first few minutes of my day to deep breathing, positive affirmations, and a quick meditation. I've also been taking advantage of apps like Calm, Insight Timer, and content online by yogis, and other wellness practitioners who have lead guided meditations.

I also just discovered adult stress-relieving coloring books, and that has been helpful too! Amazon has some great ones by some incredible Black girl bosses. Check out 24 shades of Business: An Adult Coloring Book and Color and Manifest: Using the power of coloring to manifest your wildest dreams

3. Attending virtual bible study weekly, on IG live with Devon Franklin.

These days, I have to work twice as hard to keep my spirit fed, and uplifted. Keeping myself connected through prayer, and studying the word has been instrumental in my spiritual growth. Somewhere along the line, I thought that I had forgotten who I was, it turns out, I just needed to be reminded. I so desperately needed that reminder; that I was created for a time such as this.

Just last week, I was in my room, alone, feeling helpless; when I tuned in for bible study and was immediately encouraged by the sermon where Pastor Franklin spoke from Matthew 5:13-14; "You are the salt of the Earth. You are the light of the world."

I almost threw my phone, that man was preachin so good.

In the text, Jesus is talking to the people who are oppressed, and he is essentially declaring their worth, and affirming who they are. In other words, he was saying, "you are important, you are critical, and you matter; your life has a purpose."

At that moment, I got chills.

It was confirmation that we were designed to function in dark times and that the only way to dispel darkness, is through light.

I found my resilience.

I found my strength.

I found my power.

Black women, we were called to stand out, to be distinctive, and to use our voices.

I know it feels like the weight of the world is always on our shoulders, but we are the standard because we are the light.

When we look at the state of our country or watch the news, it's easy to get sucked into the negativity and fear tactics, and question if we matter, and if our voices have any significance.

With everything going on, I found myself doubting who I was, and allowing the enemy to take residence in my thoughts, and take me out of position. I was reducing my effectiveness and losing my distinctiveness because I started to believe the lies, and lose my "saltiness." I started to question whether or not I could make a difference, and whether my words or actions meant anything at all.

The more I opened up about my struggles, the free-er I felt.

Without even realizing it, I was going through a spiritual transformation.

If we focus on the darkness or the fear of the unknown, we allow the enemy to cloud our vision and dim our light.

Our light is our power, our light is what leads the way.

Every light has a platform from which we can help elevate people to show them the way, and use our voice as a weapon for positive change.

With everything going on around us, we have to understand that being a part of the solution, is not only what gives us hope, but it is also how we get to our healing.

While you are out in the world, and out in your communities trying to liberate someone else, don't forget to liberate yourself. Do not forget to recharge. Sometimes you have to disconnect, sometimes you're gonna have to step away so that you can come back stronger and more energized to finish what you started. Check-in on yourself; your mind, your body, and your soul to make sure that you're feeling you're absolute best. I know you mean well, and you want to make a difference, but we need you to be able to do it; so recharge.

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