Being a woman and being a woman of color are two stressors navigated on a daily basis. Being a woman of color, myself, there are many issues we face head-on. These issues range from (but are not limited to) social injustice, sexism, lack of advocacy, microaggressions, culture stereotypes, and gender wage gaps. We also must handle daily tasks in our work life, school life, relationships, in the middle of a whole pandemic. Girl, I don’t know about you but I’m tired. I think we can all agree being a woman of color is requiring a new level of mental strength these days.
Because we are so busy being modern-day superheroes, women of color are less likely to attend to their mental health. We are also more likely to suffer from higher levels of depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. Sadly, this can lead to greater health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attacks. According to American Progress, there are “major gaps in both screening and treatment for mental health issues among women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
As women of color, we are naturally the foundation of strength. Most of us are caring for many others within our very own communities, it’s time we become that for ourselves. It is essential we take care of our mental health before larger health issues arise. Below are some ways we can do so:
Write it out or talk it out
There are many women of color suffering in silence and most of the time it’s because we let faith see us through…we also just don’t like people in our business like that. We’ve used the excuse of “I’ll just pray through it.” “God is going to see me through.” or if you’re a hardcore millennial like myself, “I know the universe has got my back.” Or you just assume mercury is in retrograde. The point is it’s okay to have faith, but it’s also okay to release those suppressed emotions. Holding in unresolved emotions can eventually lead to depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Opening up to a friend who has your best interest at heart or journaling 10 minutes a day can improve your mental health by a milestone.
I know what you’re thinking, “Sis, I breathe all day every day.” I believe you. Deep breathing can be one of the best ways to lower stress and anxiety levels in our bodies. When we breathe deeply it sends messages to our brain to relax. Deep breathing can lead to other practices such as meditation. Mindfulness practices are becoming more popular and are scientifically proven to improve overall health.
Take A Mindful Pause:
According to Mindful.org “It’s estimated 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot.” This can lead us to do and say things that are unintentional. Our brains running on autopilot can also revert us to old habits. Taking a mindful approach allows us to intentionally check in with ourselves. Ask yourself questions such as, “how am I feeling today?” “What do I need to let go?” and “What do I need to feel good?” These questions allow us to deeply connect with ourselves, stay on top of our mental health, and not depend on the deeds of others to make us happy. We can create our own happiness.