There are an infinite amount of forces in the today's social climate that encourage us to feel badly about ourselves. Our confidence and ability to practice self-love are forever at risk, threatened by the entertainment world, the political world, and our own negative thoughts. People of Color suffer from low self esteem for many reasons, two main ones being underrepresentation in the media and existing in a constant state of mourning for the lives lost in their community.
Black people, for example, are often the butt of jokes when it comes to appearances and other behavioral stereotypes. "Madea" celebrates Black men dressing up as large, overly dramatic Black women and calls it comedy. Blackface, when a non-Black person paints their face in dark or black paint, pops up from time to time. In addition to underrepresentation, or lack of positive images depicting Black people, we also struggle against police brutality and over-incarceration. These are just some of the many reasons why Black people in America today may struggle with mental illnesses, or just a constant sense of feeling down in the dumps.
I recognize the way my brothers and sisters hang their heads. We tear each other apart, dividing ourselves into "dark-skinned" and "light-skinned" (well, technically we didn't implement colorism. Europeans did when they colonized America. But we still adhere to these awful self-destructive norms). It's unhealthy. I've recently turned to healing methods that will not only benefit Black people, but all People of Color.
This post will be much longer and wordier than the usual posts, but I hope you will take the time to read through and really think about everything I'm saying. I've included a couple calming tracks that you can choose to play in the background while you read this post.
Why do People of Color need healing?
Everybody needs to practice self-care, but I believe that People of Color will especially benefit from methods of healing because racism takes a huge toll on our bodies, minds, and souls. Women, non-binary people, and LGBTQ+ people will also benefit immensely from practicing healing methods. When you belong to a group whose rights are constantly violated, your mental health suffers immensely. I firmly believe in preserving the wellbeing of people in marginalized groups because there aren't enough people looking out for us.
How long have you been practicing? And practicing what?
I have been an advocate for self-care for many years, not always vocally, but I believe many things can be considered self-care. Journaling is a therapeutic activity that I have practiced since I was in elementary school. Any activity that allows a person to reflect, unwind, and brings them happiness can be considered self-care. However, sometimes self-care can be the simplest of tasks like cleaning up, or getting out of bed after a long streak of depression. Self care is celebrating and loving oneself.
Now that we've covered some of the basics, I would like to share two kinds of self-care/de-stressing categories with you all. Some of them have worked better for me than others, but I want to include all of them so you have more options. The first category is Assisted De-stressors, which utilizes - but does not always depend on - objects to help achieve peace. These objects may include healing crystals or a yoga mat. The second category is Independent De-stressors. Now, any activity can be altered, for example ditching the yoga mat and meditating on the ground. But for the second category, these are the most simplistic forms of self-care. Let's get started!
1. Using Healing Crystals
It might sound funny or too "hippie-dippy" if you don't know much about healing crystals, but stay with me. Like the Earth, crystals contain certain energies. These energies can be best understood as "healing properties." There are crystals for countless different purposes. For example, if you're a naturally anxious person, Quartz and Aventurine (Indian Worry Stone) are excellent choices for easing your nerves.
I've used healing crystals for a couple months now. I keep a few next to my bed in a small bowl, a few more in a pouch I keep in my purse, and I even have some crystal necklaces. There are many different ways to use your crystals. When I've had a rough day, or I just want to put myself into a calm mood before I go to sleep, I'll put on some relaxing music and hold my crystals. It's really simple, I'll just place one in each palm and sit cross legged on my bed. Sometimes I'll chant along to this cool 7 minute chakra tune up, other times I'll just practice steady breathing while turning the crystals over a few times in my hand.
You won't always feel the powers of the crystals immediately. I think that's part of what makes this healing practice so genuine. If you have faith that what you're doing will work in the long run, it doesn't matter if you don't feel sparks or shivers run through your body when you touch a crystal.
Crystals also require regular cleansing to get rid of bad energy - but focus on choosing and purchasing your crystals first. HealingCrystals has an extensive selection for affordable prices.
2. Meditating to Calming Soundtracks
The fewer words, sometimes the better. Spotify and Apple Music have many playlists with instrumental/nature sounds to chill out to. I like these tracks because it allows my thoughts to stop thinking me. Does that ever happen to you? You're in your own head too much that your thoughts start to take control of your mind. These calming tracks will help you unwind for that much needed down time.
3. Making Something with Your Hands
If chilling out isn't something you're interested in, get busy! Maybe instead of trying to turn your thoughts off, you can find some solace in turning your thoughts on. A project that requires you use your hands and creative powers might be best suited for you. I like to sew, make mini sculptures, clean, or scrapbook when I want to be productive. Some other options include making friendship bracelets, painting, or even just playing with Play-Doh to relieve some tension in the physical body.
4. Using Chakra Oil
Finally, this is a really good no-effort-needed way to destress. Chakra oil is used for chakra balancing. We all have seven chakras, or energy centers, throughout our bodies. As stress, pressure, and other worldly worries eat away at our wellbeing, our chakras get all out of whack. You can pick up chakra oil from CocoaButterMothers, a Maryland based business which was started and owned by a Black woman. Or, you can visit MindBodyGreen to use whichever essential oils you may have around the house.
Chakra oil is great and effortless because you simply roll it onto your pulse, or over whichever chakra you're focusing on, and let the oils do its magic. I like to smell the oil too, by inhaling a really deep breath. Just one sniff is enough for me to feel instantly calmer. I keep my chakra oils in the same pouch as my healing crystals.
1. Meditating Silently
It's nice to mediate to the sound of chirping birds or a waterfall in the far off East Asian mountains, but learning to be alone with your zoned out self is equally nice. Meditating without music is something that I am still trying to be comfortable with and I encourage everyone to do the same. Music is a luxury anyways, and aren't we trying to be non-materialistic? Well, at least try it. You might like the quiet.
2. Repeating Self-Affirming Messages
If you've seen "Being Mary Jane," you'll recognize the post-it idea. Writing inspiring quotes or self-affirming messages on stickies and posting them all over your house is a great way to feed yourself some positive fuel. However, we can turn this material-based method into an independent one by getting rid of the sticky notes. Instead, repeat phrases like "I am strong, I am important," or "compassion conquers hate" to yourself. You can do this out loud or in your head, it doesn't really matter. But the more you tell yourself these things and say them in a manner that is genuine, you'll see some noticeable changes in your outlook.
3. Giving Yourself a Hug
I know it sounds sort of dumb, but when's the last time you really felt 100% present in your own body? It doesn't have to be a long embrace, unless you want it to. Simply wrap your arms around either your shoulders or your torso and just sort of chill out there for a little. Now you're showing yourself some real, tangible love. It makes a difference.
4. Physical Activity
Tweets can be louder than the actual birds chirping outside your window. It helps to take breaks from social media and take walks outside. Did you know that the ground has healing properties? When you walk barefoot on the ground, the energy in your body reacts with the energy in the ground, and it's super good for your health. You don't have to run 5 miles and sweat a whole bunch to have a productive physical activity session. As long as you're moving, and really paying attention to every motion, you're being productive. Whichever part of your body is able, move it.
Ultimately, letting go of stress and promoting inner peace doesn't have to be a big show requiring lots of props and grand gestures. These suggestions are purely for you, as an individual, to feel empowered. There are always ways to help improve your situation. While meditation and taking x amount of time out of your day is a luxury, I hope you all find ways to incorporate positivity and mindfulness into your lives. Activism is an incredibly necessary cause to devote your time to, as is self-care.
And please remember, these practices do not have to be the extent of your self-care. If you believe you would benefit from professional help, I urge you to seek it! There is no shame in receiving an extra helping hand when it comes to your mental health.
Thank you for staying with me until the end of this post. If you have any stories about your self-care journeys, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
Peace and love to you all.