15 Simple Ways to Relax

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, most of us find it hard to simply relax. And a lot of times, we don’t even feel it’s necessary to do so. However, having some down time has many benefits. It:

  • helps prevent stress from accumulating
  • reduces general anxiety
  • increases your energy level and helps with productivity
  • improves your concentration
  • boosts self-confidence

Now that you know why you probably need to unwind more often, here are 15 simple ways to relax:

  1. Do some yoga.
  2. Meditate.
  3. Read for pleasure.
  4. Take a bubble and/or spiritual bath.
  5. Spend some time alone.
  6. Laugh.
  7. Listen to your favorite music.
  8. Take a phone/social media break.
  9. Nap and/or sleep in.
  10. Visualize/daydream.
  11. Netflix and chill…with yourself.
  12. Create a gratitude list.
  13. Spend some time outdoors.
  14. Journal.
  15. Color

What are your favorite ways to relax? Let me know by leaving a comment!


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

On Taking Care of My Mental Health

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As a Black person in the South — and really, as a Black person in general — mental health and wellness is something rarely talked about, and when it is, you’re told to simply “pray about it” or “Jesus will fix it.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with praying if it brings you comfort and peace, but for many people dealing with mental health issues, it isn’t enough.

My journey to taking my mental health more seriously started after having my daughter. Being a first-time mama was incredibly overwhelming, and I found myself feeling frustrated and disappointed most of the time, particularly because I felt like I didn’t have enough help from my husband. And looking back, I believe I was dealing with some post-partum depression as well.

The breaking point came when my husband asked me if I still wanted to be with him. That was when I realized I had to do something different, not just for the sake of my marriage, but so I could feel better and more at peace.

I wrote new affirmations around how I wanted to feel, and because I’m a researcher by nature, I Googled ways to better my marriage and myself. Through my research, I rediscovered meditation and began my practice, which also led me to restarting my yoga practice and really focusing on taking care of myself. As cliche as it sounds, these practices literally changed my life. In addition to feeling more calm, grounded, and centered, I now know how to tap into my inner peace whenever I need to.

Of course, I’m human, so I still deal with stress, and I have anxiety as well, so making sure I include my mental health as a part of self-care practices is an important part of my daily life. Some ways I do so (that you can, too) include:

  • Meditation and yoga
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Taking social media breaks
  • Saying affirmations
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Listening to inspirational podcasts
  • Going to therapy

Whether you’re dealing with a mental illness or the stress of your daily life, I encourage you to begin making your mental health and wellness a priority.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – from”Approaching the Natural: a Health Manifesto”

Stress Less By Standing In Your Truth

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Earlier this year, I turned 30. It’s been a year of growth, transition, and awakening. And I’ve learned that a big part of stress is not standing in your truth. Let me explain…

For the past month or so, I’ve been mulling over a situation related to my brand/work (I’ll probably do a post about it later). Just thinking about it and trying to figure out what to do had me so stressed and even made me feel depressed, and it was affecting every part of my life. I was trying to figure out why I was feeling the way I did, and that — along with some other personal things — made me seek out a therapist (I’ll be doing a post about that, too).

Ultimately, I already knew what to do (thanks to my intuition/Higher Self). I was being stubborn,  and I wanted to explore why I felt the way I did because I was unsure of the reason. After the session, I understood my feelings, and I also realized that I haven’t been standing in my truth. And that was a big part of my stress!

Then, I received several messages from Goddess about standing in my truth and doing what’s best for me, like this from my Facebook friend, Takeallah:

“…I stick out. And I’m fine with that…You take this Black Girl Magic and ALL of its glory. You don’t get to pick and choose which components you wish to take and which ones you wish to leave behind or altar.”

And this from another FB friend, Valerie, who shared an Iyanla Vanzant quote:

“Speak the truth to yourself about what you feel, about what you need, about what you see, about what you want. So many of us don’t tell ourselves the truth. We don’t speak the truth in our spirits. And then we can’t understand why there’s so many dishonorable things going on in our lives. This is about you and your voice and your truth.”

And this post I saw on Instagram:

If you’re not excited about it, it’s not the right path.” – Abraham Hicks

So, if not standing in your truth is causing you to feel stressed and disconnected from yourself, here’s what you can do:

  1. Figure out what your truth is. What you really want, what you really believe, and what you really value. (Meditation and journaling help with this).
  2. Be okay with your truth within yourself. Be honest with yourself.
  3. Live your truth. This looks different for all of us; for me, it includes: saying Goddess/Spirit/the Universe instead of God; doing what’s best for my business and myself/my sanity; being confident in being a spiritual-empathetic-sensitive-goddess-warrior-woman-healer-entrepreneur when there aren’t a lot of people like me where I live (I’ve been fortunate to find a few, though!).

So, I’ve made the decision to stand in my truth. And no, it’s not always easy. But I’d rather have the difficult conversations or feel uncomfortable for a moment than to continue living a lie and being unhappy and overwhelmed. Life is too short and too valuable to be anything other than true to yourself and happy.

“When you show up authentic, you create the space for others to do the same.

Walk in your truth.”


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#CalmTip: Ground Yourself

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Grounding is a technique that helps keep you in the present moment. It’s a way of practicing mindfulness and can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Here are a few methods you can use to ground yourself:

One

  • Look around the room, noticing your surrounding and details.
  • Hold a pillow, stuffed animal, or ball.
  • Hold something cool (like a can of soda) or place a cool wash cloth on your face.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Place your feet.
  • Focus on someone’s voice or a neutral conversation.

Two

Name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste or 1 good thing about yourself

Three

Walk outside barefoot for a few minutes, in the grass if possible.

Four

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back into your chair, and notice how the chair feels underneath you and against your back.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest.
  4. Gently tap each shoulder, one side at a time. If you’re in public, you can place your hands on your thighs and tap on each thigh, alternating sides.

“Get yourself grounded, and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” – Steve Goodier

Do you have another grounding technique you use? Did you try one of these? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )

Sources: peirsac.org, drcordes.com


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Dear Black Woman

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Dear Black woman,

Growing up, you probably heard that you needed to be a “strong Black woman,” or you heard your mama, aunts, grandmas, etc. described that way. And now, as an adult, you probably feel at least some pressure to be super woman and do it all — smoothly and with a smile being a mom and/or partner, working, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, taking care of your loved ones, not to mention dealing with societal issues like racism and sexism. You don’t stop to take a breath, to take a minute for yourself, because you don’t have make time. Deep down, you might feel like you don’t deserve to truly take care of yourself or you feel that someone has to do this stuff (and it has to be you, right?). I mean, who the hell is going to take care of everything while I’m chillin’? 

First, I want you to close your eyes, and take a deep breath: Inhale slowly. Exhale slowly. Now, hear me when I say this:

It is okay for you to be calm, centered, and cared for. It is NECESSARY for you to be calm, centered, and cared for — if you want to feel good, whole, at peace. And you DESERVE IT.

Let me ask you this: Does it feel good to be stressed out, burned out, frustrated, overwhelmed? I mean, yeah, you might be “making it” and “surviving,” but don’t you want to thrive? I know we, as Black women, are pretty much pros at keeping a survival mentality, of having just enough and saying things like, ‘Well, it’s not that bad; I’m still here,’ or ‘Things could be worse,’ or ‘It is what it is.’ Yes, you’re still here, and things could be worse, and you should be thankful for that. However, I don’t think that means you can’t or shouldn’t strive to live a life where you’re happy and calm most of the time. The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” So yeah, you can continue on the path you’re on, barely making it, always feeling stressed and on the verge of burning out. But wouldn’t it feel better to choose differently, to live from a space of peace and have joy?

You might be saying, “Yes, Jamie, what you’re saying makes sense, and that would feel better. But how do I live from a space of peace and have more joy? How do I become calm, centered, and cared for?

  1. Decide that you want something different, and commit to doing it. Write down what you want, and make a plan.
  2. Determine what your stressors are so you’ll know what areas you can control and can’t control. (Here’s a worksheet for you).
  3. Make the practices that keep you calm and centered a daily habit. Examples include meditation, deep breathing yoga, and practicing mindfulness.
  4. Seek out resources and even professional help if you need it.
  5. Learn to surrender and go with the flow when it comes to things you can’t control.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Make self-care a daily practice.

These are just a few general tips to help you get started. And if you have questions, I’m here.  : )

“True and lasting inner peace can never be found in external things. It can only be found within. And then, once we find and nurture it with ourselves, it radiates outward.” – (attributed to) Buddah 


If you’re ready to stress less and create more calm, my book, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience shares practical tools that will help you find your calm and peace in your crazy, chaotic life. Click here to learn more and download.

If you need one-on-one assistance with creating your Stress Less Strategy, contact me.

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#CalmTip: Do a Shower Meditation

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Of course, showering is how most of us stay clean, but did you know they can also reduce anxiety, lower the tension in your body, and free up your mind (cold shower)? I saw the idea of a shower meditation on Pinterest and loved it! Here’s how to do it (it’s really easy):

“Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water upon your skin. Envision the power of the shower washing away your negative thoughts! Woosh! Envision fear, regret, and anger soaping off you and swirling down the drain.” – Karen Salmansohn

#CalmTip: Work on Time Management

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

One of my biggest stressors is time — or the lack thereof. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say the lack of it because the reality is, everybody only gets 24 hours, so it’s really about using the time you have more efficiently as opposed to having more of it. I’m currently working on time management in my own life, and I wanted to share a few tips with you:

  1. Create a to-do list (or as I like to call it, an intentions list). Every Sunday night (or sometimes Monday morning), I write down everything I need to get done for the week. And each night before I go to bed, I write what I need to do the next day. Doing this gives you a good overview of how your day will pan out, and you’re less likely to get caught off guard. And while you might not get everything done, the idea is for you to stick to your list as best you can. (Side note: Even if you don’t complete everything, don’t beat yourself up about it. Try to remember that tomorrow is another day).
  2. Use a calendar and organizer. You can use a good old fashioned calendar paper and pen, or you can use apps. I use Google calendar for things that are on a specific date and time (and it’s synced with my phone), and I use Evernote to record what I need to do weekly and daily.
  3. Focus. Trust me, I know that multi-tasking is sometimes inevitable, but try to single-task as much as possible. It helps to close any applications and browser tabs so your attention isn’t being pulling in too many directions, which brings me to my next tip…
  4. Cut distractions. For example, many of us get distracted by social media notifications, text messages, or phone calls when we’re trying to focus on something important. If you’re trying to get work done and need to have laser focus, consider putting your phone on silent or turning it off. You might also want to consider decreasing the amount of notifications you get from social media on your phone.

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” – Peter Drucker

Stress Awareness Month Event: From Stress to Serenity

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? And since Black Girl’s Guide to Calm is all about sharing ways you can manage your stress and/or stress less, I’m hosting an interview series on Blab.im every Monday at 9 PM Eastern (until May 2nd) with some dope women who will give their tips and advice on creating calm.

>> First up was Tara Pringle Jefferson, a blogger,  speaker, writer, self-care coach, and founder of the Bloom Beautifully Box. She shared with us the importance of self-care and how to care for ourselves more often. (And you can watch the replay here).

>> This Monday, 4/11, we have Tracey Corretta, a womanist writer and certified yoga teacher based in Philadelphia. We’ll be chatting about how yoga can help us create calm and how you can start your practice.

>> On 4/18, the guest is Dr. Nadia Richardson, Founder of No More Martyrs and Valenrich Wellness, LLC. We’re talking mental health awareness and resources.

>> Next, on 4/25 is Ivy Felicia, Body Relationship Coach, and we’re talking releasing stress and worry around your body and self-love.

>> And on 5/2, we have Trelani Michelle, author and spiritual writing coach. We’re talking creating calm and spirituality.

Make sure you join us and learn ways to create calm and live fulfilled in your daily life (plus ask any questions you have). Also, you access all the blabs here.

 

Yoga Pose of the Month: Tree Pose

Black Girl's Guide to CalmHow is it April already?! This year is really flying by! Anyhoo, this month’s yoga pose is tree pose. This pose stretches your inner thighs, groin, and shoulders; strengthens your posture and thighs, calves, core, and foot muscles. It also helps you develop balance, calms and relaxes your mind and central nervous system, and increases your mind/body awareness.

How to do it
  1. Stand tall and straight with your arms by your sides.
  2. Bend your right knee and place your right foot high up on your left thigh or down on your calf (just make sure it’s not on your knee). The sole of your foot should be flat and placed firmly wherever it is.
  3. Keep your left leg straight, and find a non-moving eye-level point to gaze at. This will help you maintain your balance.
  4. Once you’re well balanced, inhale, and raise your arms overhead and bring your hands together in the prayer position; you also have the option of keeping your hands chest-level.
  5. Keep your eyes focused on the same object.
  6. Make sure your spine is straight, and take 5-10 full, deep breaths.
  7. To release, bring your hands down to your sides, then gently release your right leg.
  8. Repeat on the other side.
Tips
  • If you come into the pose too quickly, you’re more likely to lose your balance, so come into the pose slowly with awareness; take your time.
  • To help with your balance, become aware of the center line of your body — the line that runs from the center of your head, neck, and torso.
Modification

If you find that you’re very unsteady, try the pose with your back against the wall, or place a chair next to the standing-leg of your body and place your hand on the back of the chair for extra support.

“Like a tree, you have to find your roots and then you can bend in the wind.” – Angela Farmer

Need more help starting your yoga practice? Take the 5-Day Beginner Yoga Challenge; sign up below! 


Why You Should Manage Your Stress

All of us experience stress on some level, whether it’s work pressure, money, health, or relationships. And while stress manifests itself differently in each of us, it’s important to find some way to manage it effectively.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress can be defined as “the brain’s response to any demand.” Not all stress is bad, but chronic stress, however, can become a serious issue. The three types of stress, which all carry physical and mental health risks are:

  • Routine stress that’s related to the pressures of work, family and other day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Stress brought on by a sudden negative change like divorce, losing a job, or illness.
  • Traumatic stress, which is experienced in an event like a major accident, assault, or a national disaster where an individual may be seriously injured or in danger of being killed.

Some of the negative effects of stress include headaches, insomnia, and feeling depressed, anger, and irritable; and people under chronic stress are likely to experience frequent and severe viral infections like the flu or common cold.

With that being said, check out the infographic below to learn a few benefits of managing your stress:

Black Girl's Guide to Calm