Tips on How To Achieve More  Balance & Improve In The New Year

At my private practice, I often work with clients on finding balance. Many of us are programmed to live from one extreme to another.  Going into the new year, we all could focus more on finding balance.  As your identifying your goals, remember these 7 tips: B.A.L.A.N.C.E

Be Present

Many of us focus on the past or the future.  But we often forget that the present is all we really have.  It’s easy to get caught up on what’s next.  With hectic schedules and busy lives, stress and anxiety become a way of life. This fast-paced mentality to hurry through each moment in order to get to the next starts to become natural.  However, focusing on living in the present is good for our psychological, physical, and emotional health. 

Actualize Your goals

This year do a vision board to be constantly reminded of what you’d like to achieve. Be sure to place your vision board somewhere in your home that you pass often. I like to post mine on my bedroom closet door.  It is a constant reminder of what I’ve achieved and where I am going.  The visual will help you better actualize your goals for the year. 

Love On Yourself

Many of us have obligations to others.  Maybe you have children or caregiving for parents. However, loving on yourself is mandatory to have healthy well-being.  Loving yourself creates an overall positive view of yourself. It also allows you to have empathy and love for others. Self-love creates a foundation that allows us to be assertive, and set healthy boundaries and relationships with others.

Assert Your Strengths

In therapy, we often focus on a clients strengths and how they can support clients in achieving their goals. Focusing on the negatives don’t help us get closer to achieving goals. Focusing on your strengths can lower stress levels and create resilience.  Research from Johns Hopkins shows that people who focus on the positive also have better psychological, physical well-being, cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Never Dwell on the Negative

As stated above, focusing on the positive and what you are good at has many mental and physical benefits. Dwelling on the negative can cause increased stress and anxiety and and over lower quality of life. 

Cultivate Meaningful Relationships

Identifying the people in our lives that become our village or safe space is vital to healthy well-being. Friends and trusted family can encourage healthy behaviors, provide emotional support, and help foster healthy self-esteem. Healthy interactions with others can reduce our stress levels.  Make an inventory of your tribe.  Who are the people in your life that enhance your life and make it more fulfilling? Make sure that you intentionally spend time with them this year. 

Expect Love & Kindness, Always

In the wise words of Gandhi, “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer”. If you talk to yourself unkindly, start to track how many times a day you are hard on yourself and replace those thoughts with kinds thoughts. Overriding the inner negative self-talk and replacing it with a kinder, more compassionate and forgiving inner voice can transform our mental and emotional wellbeing.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

6 Things to Know About Managing Collective Grief in the Black Community

“I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else”. – Maya Angelou, When I Think of Death

Since late 2019 the collective grief in America has been palpable. There have been so many tragedies. It all seems to continue at a rapid pace.  That being said, Black Americans continue to experience greater disparities. The emotional toll of history on Black Americans has been well documented. Health disparities statistics also indicate that Black Americans have a shorter lifespan than their White counterparts. Since COVID-19, Black Americans are almost twice as likely to lose someone to COVID.  Additionally, the constant mass shootings make us all pause in fear, shock, and disbelief. Black grief creates unhealthy bodies and minds.  Race-based stressors can increase cortisol levels, leading to headaches, fatigue, heart disease, diabetes, sleep problems, increased hypervigilance, depression, and anxiety. Lastly, Black Americans are losing loved ones more frequently and at younger ages.  This Juneteenth, let’s take time to reflect on Black Grief and tools to help us live healthier in 2022 and beyond.  Here are 6 tools to help you manage Black Grief:

Set firm boundaries

You are under no obligation to explain your feelings to others.  According to Forbes magazine, avoiding setting healthy boundaries in our relationships can lead to low self-esteem, needing approval from others, learned helplessness, or the fear of being rejected or criticized.  Setting boundaries allows us to redefine our identity and make ourselves a priority.  Being firm with boundaries also decreases your levels of stress. When setting boundaries, practice assertive communication, which allows you to be respectful yet direct at the same time. 

Indulge in creativity

Celebrating creativity can provide some respite from traumatizing events and it’s not selfish to take time out for yourself. Feeding your creativity can have a calming effect and it’s a great outlet to exert energy around frustrations and other hard emotions.  Sharing your creativity provides connectedness.  Additionally, Art Therapy has been known to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms and supports self-expression and healing. 

Limit Social Media Time

Not every post, tweet, article, or message requires your attention or response. A constant intake of footage and information can be overwhelming. A 2019 study found that teenagers who use social media for more than 3 hours daily are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior. Additionally, multiple studies have also found that prolonged hours on social media can be linked to similar symptoms in adults. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States and in 2020, 20 million adults had at least one major depressive episode. With depression and anxiety at an all-time high, you don’t need the approval to take a break from social media.  Put your mental health care first. 

Feel Your Emotions

Remember that your feelings are valid, take your time to acknowledge them, no matter how hard it is to sit with them.  Holding in your emotions often leads to more suffering.  Shutting off your feelings can also push someone into isolation, which can lead to other negative symptoms, such as depression.  When we shut down it stops the possibility for others to connect and comfort us.  The only way to live an authentic life is, to be honest with your feelings and be present with your emotions. We are told from a young age to wipe our tears and not show negative emotions, however, this doesn’t serve us in adulthood. Practice with friends or family that you feel safe with first, opening up about how you’ve been feeling. Talk therapy is a great way to get in touch with your emotions and process your feelings. 

Connect with others

It is important to seek support and comfort from others that you can trust.  According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), a social connection can lower depression and anxiety, regulate our emotions, and help improve our self-esteem and empathy for others. Join a book club, get involved with a professional organization, or make an intentional commitment to hanging out with family or friends regularly.  If hanging out with others creates social anxiety volunteer in your community or for a cause you are passionate about. There are many ways to connect with others.  Take an interest in a young person, offering mentorship. Working with the youth and teaching someone a new skill can be very rewarding and provide genuine opportunities to connect.  

Practice Mindful Cooking

Cooking is a great escape from the day and allows space to feel accomplished while enjoying the senses of smell, touch, and taste. It activates and engages our senses. The Wall Street Journal found that cooking and baking are activities that fit behavioral activation therapy, psychologists have noted. The goal is to alleviate depression by boosting positive activity, increasing goal-oriented behavior, and decreasing procrastination.

Wilson, Da’Mere and O’Connor, Mary-Frances. “Understanding Black Grief.” The University of Arizona, 28 April 2022

Webster, Micalah. “Resources for Black Healing.” University of North Carolina Wilmington, 1 June 2020

4 Ways to Help You Through the Stages of Grief 

Spring is a time of renewal and transition, however, it can also be a time of reflection of the past and those we miss dearly.  Additionally, for over 2 years now, we have been living with COVID-19 pandemic, adding to our experiences around loss. COVID-19 has surpassed roughly 993,000 deaths within the United States, leavings millions of Americans in a state of grief.  In this current environment, we are likely to see more people whose grief doesn’t lessen with time.  This has been emphasized by The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recently announcing the addition of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) manual. 

Many of us are familiar with the stages of grief. We are told that it’s a process and it has to run its course. The grief cycle (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) allows us the right to give ourselves grace for how we feel and the mental challenges we face during the grieving process. However, grief can leave many people feeling hopeless and frustrated with its long lasting affects.  If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, here are 4 things you can do to manage your grieving process in a healthy way.

Self care.

Self care is critical right now.  Self care looks different for everyone and it is not selfish.  Regular exercise, good nutrition, prioritizing sleep, connecting with trusted friends and family members, mindfulness, meditation, and connecting to nature are great ways to practice self care and put your needs first.  Self care allows us space to tap into our subconscious feelings and thoughts and process them in a healthy manner.  Self care lets us get to know the authentic person inside and embrace our emotional functions. 

Practice Grace & Gratitude.

“Grace releases and affirms. It doesn’t smother. Grace values the dignity of individuals. It doesn’t destroy. Grace supports and encourages. It isn’t jealous or suspicious.” – Charles Swindoll

Grace gives us space to do the things we enjoy and honor our experiences.  Focusing on what we have and those in our community who are loving and caring helps us stand firm in giving ourselves grace.  Try making a gratitude jar.  Put 20-30 things you are grateful for in the jar and every morning pull one new thing out of the jar you are grateful for.  Practicing gratitude is an active way to give ourselves grace and be good to ourselves. 

Say no to “should”.

Many of us struggle with I “should” send that gift, I “should” help that friend, I “should” have done more.  The past is behind us, the future is uncertain but we do have the present.  Telling ourselves we “should” instead of “can I” or “do I feel” keeps us in a space of punishing ourselves, which is the opposite of grace. 

Ask for help. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Grief can be isolating and sometimes if we don’t find outlets to process our grief it can turn on us, leaving unhealthy ways to cope such as drinking, drugs, and other unhealthy behaviors.  Know you are not alone. Talk to a mental health professional, a best friend, or someone in your church community.  They can normalize your feelings and provide accountability for your journey in healing. 

Black Lives Matter…and We’re Exhausted!

During this time, I have been wanting to post something but unsure what to say. One of my clients said it poignantly, “I’m exhausted at times, in rage at times, and numb at times”. So, this letter my sister wrote to her colleagues at Harvard University sums up my sentiments. I hope everyone is staying safe out there.

Dear Colleagues,

The last week has been hard.  Discrimination, pain, and injustice followed by outrage and desperate calls for change and accountability.  Peaceful protests and compassion followed by confrontations and escalating violence.  All during a time when our nation has lost over 100,000 lives to COVID-19 and when uncertainty and worry persists in what is ahead for public health, our education systems, and the social safety net for millions of unemployed.  The search for hope and a way forward during these turbulent times feels all the more urgent and daunting.

I wish I was writing you with answers.  I wish that I could express boundless optimism and faith in all that is good.  But that wouldn’t be honest.  Like many of you, I am feeling hurt and anger and exhaustion.  I am both bewildered by something that should be so simple—showing respect and decency to one another—and outraged by the continual, seemingly unending barrage of examples (sometimes backed by video) of the injustice suffered just for being a Black person.

So much of the discussion related to these recent events is tied up in this notion of what America is.  Simply put, America—or any society or community—is what individuals make it.  Yes, this country was founded on the important ideals of liberty, but we know those rights were narrowly defined by our founders to include only a subset of human beings.  And though we have taken steps forward through laws and policies, it’s crucial to question whether we, as a country, have really interrogated what equality and respect for all means in practice.  The injustices we have seen in recent weeks are not new, and we are only seeing a small fraction of the million little cuts that take place each and every day.  It’s time to stop believing that we will be a better society without the hard work of confronting and addressing what is fundamentally wrong.  This is especially the case as we try to figure out what life will be post-COVID, realizing that the return to “normal” in America is not forward progress for far too many. Going back to what was normal a few months ago would mean continuing to ignore the pernicious ways this country sanctions how certain groups—in particular, people of color—do not fully get to enjoy the freedoms and protections of our laws and institutions.  During the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, Black men wore signs stating, “I am a man.”  And yet, over 50 years later, “normal” still means ignoring the humanity and dignity of an individual because of his or her skin color.

So many are hurting right now, and frankly, this transcends race.  We are witnessing human rights violations—the act of George Floyd calling out for his mother as his life was slipping away is a reminder of the universally human aspects of these devastating moments.  To George, Ahmaud, Breonna, Chris, Tamir, Trayvon, the Charleston 9, Sandra, Philando, Eric, Freddie, and so many, many others: I pray that the deep injustices you experienced will serve as the foundation to building something so much better for all of us.  Beyond the Black community, I also think about Latinx and Native American communities, who face similarly differential treatment by the legal system and who have also suffered disproportionately high mortality rates with COVID-19.  And I think about members of the Asian community who have been the targets of slurs and aggression in response to the assertion that China is to blame for the pandemic, and members of Jewish communities who have faced an unthinkable resurgence in anti-Semitism in recent years.  Finally, I think about the children at the U.S. border, forcibly separated from their parents in ways our government would never, ever tolerate if their skin color were lighter.

Yes, things are dark right now, and for many, they have been dark for a very long time.  But even as I acknowledge that, I find myself searching for a way to somehow make things better.  And so, as I often do, I throw myself into my work.  I’m incredibly thankful to be a part of the HGSE community—a group of people working to make things better in the world.  For over two decades, I have been bolstered by the optimism, dedication, and new ideas of every entering cohort of students, and I have learned so much from my colleagues about innovative ways to address long-standing inequities.  But that’s only a start.  And it’s clearly not enough. As Nicholas Johnson, the first Black valedictorian of Princeton discussed in his speech, “let us build a better normal.”

So, as we look ahead, I stand with you searching for ways to make things better.  To those of you feeling pain, I send you comfort and the encouragement to lean on the HGSE Community—one that is made up of people who will provide support, camaraderie, compassion, and strength and the space to be heard.   And I join the chorus of people emphasizing the importance of voting and activism, policy and research, along with the everyday principles of transparency and accountability.  I also highlight the need for personal introspection and conversations within and among our own families.  And I look forward to what I don’t yet know about—other creative strategies that peace-loving people will develop to help us all take positive steps towards a better future.

Be well,

Bridget

Mental Illness Through The Eyes of African Americans, Queen & Slim, the Movie

On a cold Wednesday night I decided to check out the movie, Queen & Slim. I laughed, I cried, I got angry and weary, and I went home with so much on my mind that evening. The 2019
American film was directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe. It’s taken from a story by James Frey and Waithe.

The film starts off with a traffic stop gone wrong and two African-Americans quickly go on the run after killing a police officer during a traffic stop. In the United States,
African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police
than white people. For black women, the rate is 1.4 times more likely

(Edwards, Lee, & Esposito 2018). Queen & Slim does a wonderful job of playing off the two main characters, one sharing similar values to Martin Luther King, and the other with Malcolm X. As they journey through the film, Queen’s deafening strength out of necessity, and Slim’s faith aligns with every decision that they make.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but think about the mental health of African Americans, particularly African American Men. As African Americans, we all process race and equality in ways that are personal and help us assimilate and adapt to an unfair society. In the movie, Slim’s hope that things will turn out okay brings an honest realization that African American men need more support around metal health and how to cope with a failing society that doesn’t allow their stories to be told.

If you haven’t seen the film I highly recommend it. Watch it, go with friends, talk and process the film afterwards. Films like this can be therapeautic in their own way and push us to grow. Queen & Slim, unfortunately, isn’t a unique story. We’ve heard too many stories of the injustices that black people continue to face at the hands of the law with no, to little, justice. This film is a reminder of the continued work that needs to be done.

Welcome to 2018! Focus on the PRESENT!

Welcome to 2018! Thank God we are here! So much happened in 2017. So much so that it took me two additional months to write my “beginning the New Year” blog post! I can’t express how happy I am that 2017 is over and like the saying goes, to think in the past is to be in a depressive state. But, to think into the future is to be in an anxious state. So, this year my goal is to focus on the now. As a psychotherapist, this is something I preach to my clients regularly. However, I don’t always practice what I preach.

2018 has brought in such joy already, with Black Panther being released in February. I had the pleasure of experiencing the film with my two sons. I can’t explain the joy that came over me to see beautiful, powerful, main characters that were unapologeticaly Black. With all that 2017 has forced into our lives, new president, forced ideals, and overt racism everywhere you look, it’s hard to stay mentally healthy.

When talking to my parents shortly after the election in November of 2017, I pleaded with them in panic, “what are we going to do”!? My dad explained, “Leslie, we’ve been through much worse. Think about it. I saw Nixon become president. I remember when schools were becoming desegregated, and the tension in the south during the Civil Rights Movement. We must always go on”. Those words were profound to me and have continued to reasonate. When I hear people say what’s the big deal about Black Panther I believe my dad’s sentiments sum it up quite nicely. These little wins or instances where we can truly love on ourselves and be proud collectively should be celebrated.

So, with that, lets live in the now in 2018! What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Be it, today!

My Visit to Rivermend Treatment Center, Bluff Plantation

This past February, I had the chance to visit Rivermend Treatment Center in Augusta, Georgia. The treatment center is located in the beautiful, tree filled scenery of Bluff Plantation and offers a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. The residential addiction treatment and rehabilitation center offers those seeking addiction recovery a discrete and private setting with 178 acres on the Savannah River. The center is breathtaking and the staff are welcoming and well-informed.

Rivermend offers patients treatment for alcohol and drug dependency, dual disorders, and chronic pain. Clients receive multi-dimensional, evidence-based therapeutic modalities from some the world’s preeminent experts in pain and addiction medicine. The program is led by their Medical Director, William S. Jacobs, M.D., a nationally recognized pain and addiction medicine expert, triple board certified in Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Addiction Medicine. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jacobs and was immediately impressed by his knowledge and attentiveness to his patients’ needs.

During my 2-day visit, I was amazed at how my stress melted away, as I visited Bluff Plantation and met the Rivermend team. The highlight of my trip was visiting the equine therapy staff and viewing some of the horses. While visiting the equine area, each staff member and volunteer shared their intimate stories on addiction and their relationship with Rivermend. It was an emotional experience and really gave me a great picture of what Rivermend is all about. I would highly recommend Rivermend to anyone who is suffering with addiction and is looking for a getaway, where they can not only detox and get clean, but have an introspective experience.

RiverMend Health specially trained behavioral health counselors and nurses provide an array of therapeutic modalities, including group, family and individual counseling, patient and family education, and recovery coaching. As an added plus, patients experience yoga, equine therapy, and healthy eating. Their excellent chef prepares unforgettable meals specifically for addiction recovery. His philosophy includes decreasing sugar, preparing more lean proteins, and balancing patient’s diet with fresh, vegetables.

Want to learn more? Recovery is a phone call way. Call 877-652-3609.

http://www.rivermendhealth.com/our-approach-to-addiction-treatment.html#sthash.Ek4Ke69t.dpuf

http://www.bluffplantation.com/experience-a-five-star-luxury-residential-addiction-treatment-program/luxury-addiction-rehab-accommodations.php#sthash.daxXTVAZ.dpuf

The Connection Between Substance Use, Prescription Drugs & American Culture

This month I had the opportunity to visit two Gateway Foundation treatment program facilities in Swansea and Caseyville, Illinois. The staff, welcoming and well-trained, shared with me how their programs help the community and common substance abuse issues their clients are facing. Visiting the two sites made me reflect on how important, now more than ever, substance abuse counseling and support is needed. Prescription drug abuse is a growing dilemma in the United States, especially among teens and young adults (https://talbottcampus.com/). In the United States alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs (Foundation for a Drug-Free World) and 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime (National Institute on Drug Abuse). These statistics indicate a rising problem and prove that increased support is not only needed for those facing substance abuse but support is needed for family members in crisis as well.

Gateway Foundation is leading the fight on addiction. Their treatment programs not only offer proven theoretical approaches to addiction but they also offer an open community for friends and family suffering from addiction. One of the things that sets Swansea and Caseyville Gateway apart from their competitors is their substance education initiatives. Gateway provides an adolescent at-risk program that runs weekly, 8-10 weeks, for teens that have been assessed for their programs but do not meet the criteria for services. Shockingly, a survey conducted by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World found that almost 50% of teens believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal street drugs. The Gateway program educates youth on the dangers of substances and even brings in former users to talk to the teens about their experiences with substance abuse. Additionally, they offer a family education program for parents and family members who need more education about addiction, enabling behaviors, and how they can support their loved ones. This is a free group offered to the community.

The United States makes up 5% of the world’s population and consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs. (National Institute on Drug Abuse). With President Barack Obama signing the 21st Century Cures Act in December 2016, the fight against substance abuse continues. The legislation includes $1 billion in funding for opioid abuse prevention and will help to help fight the opioid epidemic (http://www.goodtherapy.org/). Opioid addiction drives the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, which is drug overdose. In 2015, alone, there were 55,403 lethal drug overdose, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin (http://www.asam.org/).

If you, or someone you love is abusing prescription drugs or other substances, please reach out to get some help.

Gateway Foundation 24-Hour Confidential Helpline: 877-505-4673
Urban Balance, https://urbanbalance.com/, intake: (888) 726-7170 x 1, intake@urbanbalance.com

The Time is Now! A Radio Show That Speaks to Mental Health Topics in the African American Community

“Welcome to the Healing-Circle Radio Show, where we support, connect, and share!” This is the opening for my weekly radio show on iHeart Radio, Hallelujah1600AM. The show focuses on mental health topics in the African American community. There is a need for mental health programing for this audience due to America’s current predicament. With the election results hitting many of us with shock, fear, and disbelief we must come together to heal. But with healing comes fighting, fighting for our way of life, our health, and our families to thrive in the 2000’s and beyond. Not only has the election heightened paranoia in many communities around the United States, there is a stigma of mental health in the African American community. 13.2% of the U.S. population identifies as Black or African American, of those, over 16% had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year (taken from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/african-american-mental-health). The percentage of African Americans going to and completing college continues to increase and Black owned businesses in the United States has increased 34.5% between 2007 and 2012 (taken from http://blackdemographics.com/economics/black-owned-businesses/). Black professionals continue to thrive, however, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Blacks. White people make up roughly 62% of the population in the United States but only about 49% of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24% of those shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 % of the United States population (taken from https://www.washingtonpost.com/).

African Americans need a voice, resources to apply in our daily life, and support in our relationships, professional growth, and raising our children. For these reasons I’m so excited about the show! We will be talking about couples healing through getting counseling, healing through talking to your teen, and healing through finding your professional purpose. Within these topics, dealing with in-laws, effective communication, and texting and your teen will be explored. Listeners have a chance to write in to the show and share their thoughts, questions, and comments. It’s an interactive show that is doing its part to make a change in an ever changing world. Join us on Saturdays at 5:30pm!

St. Louis Listeners: 1600AM.
Online: http://hallelujah1600.iheart.com/
Phone app: http://news.iheart.com/features/get-the-iheartradio-app-240/.

Please note, this week the show will air on Sunday, 11/20, at 9:30am

Psychological Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & The Current State of Race in America

In 2016 it’s hard to come to the realization that we have so far to go when talking about race relations, politics, and religion in this country. It seems many cannot agree to respect each other’s differences. Social media highlights the pervasiveness of the issues. It affects us all differently. Some decide not to view their social media outlets temporarily, fearing they’ll read about another tragedy. Others would rather avoid the uncomfortableness and focus on positive happenings in their life, family members, and friends. It’s important to note that everyone is different, with unique family dynamics, values, and beliefs. Expecting each of us to cope with life’s struggles in a similar fashion is unrealistic.

As an African American woman, it’s important for me to post information about the importance of self care for African Americans, and when working with African Americans, to help protect our mental health when dealing with race issues in America. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that many associate with combat veterans. However, an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women (10.4%) twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD. Additionally, about 3.6 percent of adults in this country aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year (http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html).

There has been an increase in research on race related experiences as it pertains to PTSD, particularly for African Americans. Racism-related experiences that African Americans in this country encounter on a daily basis range from subtle micro aggressions to blatant violence and verbal abuse. Micro aggressions can be defined as vague insults or non-verbal exchanges, such as a woman holding her purse tightly when she walks into an elevator with a black person. These experiences take place not only in spaces where African Americans are minorities but also in predominantly black spaces. Dr. Monnica T Williams wrote in a Psychology Today article that these experiences create unpredictable anxiety and paranoia for African Americans (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culturally-speaking/201509/the-link-between-racism-and-ptsd). Coupled with these experiences, some African Americans are reminded of the long affects of terrible race relations between African Americans and the rest of the country via oppressed communities, broken down schools, lack of healthcare and job opportunities, wrongful arrests and mistreatment in and outside of their communities. These events can be summed up as frequent, ongoing psychological trauma.

So, if you are reading this, feel exhausted, distressed, angry, confused, and sometimes hopeless with what you experience and see on a frequent basis around the issue of race in America or know someone feeling these symptoms, consider these steps from JustJasmineBlog.com to help you with this psychological trauma (http://justjasmineblog.com/self-care-for-people-of-color-after-emotional-and-psychological-trauma/):

1.Mindful Isolation. Disconnect from triggering interactions or other situations that may increase anxiety. We all need a break sometimes. Maybe it’s time to take a social media break or a personal day from work to disconnect.

2. Discharge Energy. Find ways to exert energy. Exercise, a nice walk outside, journaling, yoga or meditation are great ways to discharge energy.

3. Community. Connect with people who you’ve identified as empathic, supportive, and help you process your feelings.

These are great steps toward self care. However, if you need further help don’t be afraid to ask. It’s okay to not be okay. With more research to support and normalize these realities find comfort in knowing you are not alone.