Calming Your Anxious Black Girl: 5 Ways Meditation Helped Me Find My Inner Peace

Meditation
Image courtesy of YogaGreenBook.com

I’ve practiced meditation off and on for a few years now,  but it was a recent bout of my anxiety getting progressively worse that pushed me to take it more seriously, to be more consistent. I’m glad I did.

Fast forward to Saturday when I completed Day 10 of meditation basics with the app Headspace. Every day, I put five minutes aside for some quiet, guided meditation. Five minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it’s simply serene to let go after busy day at a job you don’t particularly like.

Strengthening the mind takes time, as does becoming more in tune with yourself. However, I’ve already noticed a difference in my thoughts. So, here’s how I’m now realizing (and calming) my Anxious Black Girl.


Don’t fight it, just feel it.

Anxiety is self-compounding so the more you fight it, the worse it gets. With meditation, I’ve learned it’s actually best to let these feelings surface — rear their ugly heads if you will — rather than try everything in my power to relax. Letting my body feel and simply allow these emotions helps to make them pass faster. This goes for anxiety or any other negative emotions, or self-destructive thoughts.

It’s okay to “just be.”

Again, I’ve found total peace in simply letting myself be and living in the moment. Focusing on breathing and staying  “grounded” in my surrounding for five minutes a day is a great way to unwind and give the mind a break. It’s also a great time for self-reflection, which I honestly haven’t become quite comfortable with yet.

It’s also okay NOT to be okay.

This one kind of goes back to my first point. Anxiety, angst, negative thoughts and emotions are normal, so stop forcing yourself to feel better. It’s how you react to and handle these feelings that can cause issues. Also, there’s really no power in faking it til you make it, trust me. So allow yourself the room to sulk, and then move on.

Becoming aware of your emotions isn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve always hated self-reflection. Writing my feelings down on paper, kind of like what I’m doing now, ironically. However, meditation has taught me that, though uncomfortable, becoming more in tune with my emotions isn’t all so bad in the long run. It helps you be less critical of yourself, as well as others.  If you know me, you know this is something I’ve always struggled with.

Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it go.

This is the best part for me personally. Being able to let shit go that’s been weighing me down, racking my mind for the longest is the best feeling. I haven’t quite mastered this with everything  that triggers my anxiety, but it’s coming along.

If meditation is in your practice, in what ways has it helped you? Feel free to share below.

With love always,
Tanasia K.

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Good Days, Bad Days: Why Your Anxiety Is Worse On Some Days Than Others

Mondays suck, but it’s on Sundays that my anxiety totally decides to go haywire. I can always count on at least one lengthy, angst-filled episode to rear its ugly head, ruining my day. Things tend to get worse as the day winds down, each hour drawing me closer and closer to the reality of walking into the office bright and early Monday morning.

Anticipating the stress the week has in store could be it, or just simply thinking about the number of story assignments I have to get done before deadline. And don’t get me started on my personal responsibilities. All I know is, come Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, those feelings of anxiety have pretty much dissipated. That is, until Sunday rolls back around, starting the cycle all over again.

The constant up and down, highs and lows led me to question why certain days of the week trigger my anxiety — or better, why I experience anxiety on some days more than others? I did some digging, and the answer kind of surprised me.

For one reason or another, certain days of the week can trigger feelings of dread and jitters, much like seasons or significant milestones can trigger anxiety, according to The Chicago Tribune. The trick to overcoming it all is to recognize what’s causing your funky mood patterns and then taking the necessary steps to reclaim your day.

“The whole point of being aware of what’s likely to affect you is so that you don’t have to be the passive recipient of life’s experiences that day,” Dr. John Sharp, a psychiatrist told the newspaper.

I personally haven’t mastered this “awareness” just yet, but I’m working on it. It’s harder than it sounds, especially because anxiety is self-sustaining. The feelings and symptoms associated with anxiety typically cause more anxiety, hence my horrible Sundays. But an extensive 2012 study revealed our “bad days” actually aren’t as sucky as they seem.

As reported by the Tribune, the report “… found that people were no more glum on Monday than they were on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. They were significantly more chipper on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — with no difference in happiness levels between the weekend days.”

Interesting. So it’s pretty much all in my head? Yup, because that’s just what anxiety is. Your mind playing tricks on you, feeding you lies in an effort to “protect” you. It seems my so-called “Sunday blues” aren’t much different.

Moving  forward, the goal is to be more aware of the stuff that makes me anxious and handle it accordingly. That’s starts with acknowledging everyday won’t be perfect and that some days are just better than others.

So here’s a reminder: don’t fret. They’re just “days” and you’ll have plenty more.

TBT: The Day I Realized I Was An Anxious Black Girl

It was around the end of my junior year when I realized something wasn’t right with me. I just didn’t feel like myself. In the beginning, I simply wrote it off as the stress that comes with college and the juggling of multiple responsibilities. I was working three jobs at the time, anticipating graduation and trying to manage my heavy college course load.

First came the recurrent headaches. Then the upset stomach, and that choking feeling. There was shortness of breath — and that feeling of something weighing heavy on my chest. Before I knew it, I was in a full-on panic. But I didn’t know it was a panic at the time. I had no idea what the heck was going on with my body.

So, these mini-panic attacks happened at least three times a day for about three weeks straight, leaving me feeling completely depleted. I could barely function. I was irritable all the time and felt myself withdrawing. I wasn’t until I was headed to class on the third floor of the social sciences building that I felt another “episode” coming on.

By the time I reached the top of the stairs, I was out of breath and dizzy. I quickly rushed to the wall for support and slowly slid to the floor. I felt like crap. Luckily, my class mate was coming around the corner and saw something was wrong. She helped me up and we walked into class. The panic subsided.

Although it was short, that last attack was pretty scary for me because I felt like I was gonna pass out. Something was clearly wrong, but I just didn’t know what. Knowing my mom struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the past ultimately prompted me to do a little research for myself. Lo and behold, I was dealing with the same thing.

A week later, I scheduled an appointment with the campus counseling services.

Moral of the story: take care of yourself ❤

8 Things Your Anxious Friend Wants You Know … So Listen Up!

When you’ve got a friend battling anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to understand when their symptoms rear their ugly head.

pexels-photo-573317.jpegWhen you’ve got a friend battling anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to understand when their symptoms rear their ugly head. The mood swings, panic attacks and occasional outburst will have you looking like “… what the f*ck?!” So, from one anxious person to the rest of y’all, here are a few things we (the ever-anxious) want you guys to know so we can get through the ups and downs together!


  1. Whatever you do, don’t tell your anxious friend to calm down.
    This one is is pretty self-explanatory. We know our fears are irrational and we don’t need a reminder that we may be “overreacting.” So just, don’t.
  2. Irritability may takeover from time to time, so bear with us.
    Irritability and a short fuse are symptoms of anxiety, and they could pop up from time to time. I catch myself being short with family and friends when I’m in one of my moods but it passes, with a subsequent apology of course. Don’t take it personal.
  3. If we withdraw or go ghost, it’s nothing you did.
    Sometimes we just wanna be alone and closed off from the world. For me, I’m able meditate, reflect and hit my reset button when by myself. I’ll go ghost for three days if need be, social media included. Know it was nothing you did and understand that sometimes we need a breather. A “you aight?” text is always appreciated though!
  4. We’ll turn to you for the occasional vent session.
    I can’t tell you how many times I have blessed my friends with a lenghty, profanity-laden text in the middle of the day. In return, I get sound and sometimes straight up problematic advice lol. Just be prepared to be a listening ear on occasion.
  5. Sometimes we ONLY want your listening ear.
    All our vent sessions don’t need a response, I promise.
  6. Things you say/do may be triggering to us. We’ll alert you.
    Your anxious friend may suddenly spiral into a panic ,and you don’t know why.  Triggers are all around us and it may have been something you said. This isn’t to say you need to start walking on egg shells around us. However, if there’s something we feel you can do, or not do, we’ll let you know.
  7. Be there on the good days, but especially the bad days.
    Much like life, the road to mental and emotional wellness isn’t straight and narrow but promises many surprises. For every anxiety-free day I’ve had, I’ve also had two “I feel like complete crap” days — and my friends were always there. So, lastly …

     Thank you for being there. Your love and support is priceless (:

How to Deal When Your Workplace Isn’t Conducive to Your Mental Health

What happens when your job becomes the SOURCE of your anxiety or mental anguish?

We all know work can get a bit stressful from time to time, no matter what field you’re in. But what happens when your job becomes the SOURCE of your anxiety or mental anguish? Who do you turn to and how do you deal?

Here are a few steps I took when faced with this reality. Feel free to add your own suggestions below!


Seek therapy, or simply vent to someone: I always try to seek help FIRST — there is no reason to suffer in silence. By speaking with a therapist, I was able to unpack my anxious thoughts, as well as talk through the issues I had with my supervisor’s ultra-problematic management style.

I know therapy is not accessible to everyone, however, so that is where your friends and family come in. In this case, my colleague was my confidant because we shared the same issues and frustrations with our upper management. Through our talks, we were able to come up with ways to voice our concerns in the most polite way possible.

Talk to your superiors about your workload: Let me make this clear first and foremost — YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DIVULGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLE  — so DON’T feel obligated to. The point of meeting with your supervisors is to let ’em know you’re feeling overwhelmed and discuss any other issues that could be fueling your anxiety.  How they respond will tell you all you need to know about how much they value their employees.

If your needs aren’t met, find a new job: This last tip pretty self-explanatory. No job, well-paying or otherwise, is worth your health and mental stability. Everyone, and I mean everyone, deserves a workplace where they feel their efforts are valued and their health is a priority.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Feel free to add your own tips below.

Love always,
Tanasia K.

My Issues with the Black Community When It Comes to Addressing Mental Health.

As always, I have a bone to pick with the Black community when it comes to addressing mental health.

As always, I have a bone to pick with the Black community when it comes to addressing mental health. So, here it goes. Also, this post maybe triggering to some Black *Christians. Take my opinions as you wish and feel free to leave your thoughts below.


First off, can we PLEASE STOP telling Black folk to just pray their anxiety / bipolar disorder / depression / PTSD away? We’ve gotta stop NOW. I don’t care how much you believe “God is my therapist” — hear me when I say that YOU CANNOT PRAY MENTAL ILLNESS AWAY. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Think of it this way. Would you advise sista Anna Mae to just pray her cancer away? Or tell your uncle to just talk to God a little longer so his diabetes can be cured? No way …. This sh*t sounds ridiculous. Like any other ailment, mental illness needs to be treated by a  professional, preferably a therapist. Just because you cannot physically see someone’s mental anguish doesn’t make it any less real.

Now, this isn’t to say that prayer doesn’t work, because it definitely does. Rather, I believe we should encourage our loved ones to seek help and talk through their issues. And most importantly, we must have our faith leaders trained to counsel folks grappling with their mental heath issues.

So yeah, the just “pray it away” line is played out. STOP IT, okay?


Another thing that really grinds my gears? Black folks thinking other Black folks don’t contemplate or attempt suicide.

I couldn’t believe the outrageous conspiracy theories people cooked up after news that New York Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman appointed to the state’s highest court, had taken her life. It wasn’t long after that James Whisenant Jr., a Black prosecutor, was found dead on a beach in Hollywood, Fla.

His death was too ruled a suicide.

I saw everything from rumors that they were murdered to claims that their deaths were part of a larger plot to take out Black Americans in positions of power. It’s like we refuse to believe that AA’s – especially the prominent, successful and wealthy ones – experience internal struggles that lead them to suicide.

If anything, events like these are a wake up call that mental illness absolutely DOES NOT discriminate … and that you should probably check on that “strong” friend who seems to always have his/her sh*t together.

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Generational trauma is real. Depression/anxiety/bipolar disorder is real. Suicidal thoughts and actions are real. It’s time we start acknowledging that.

That concludes my mini rant for now. What do you wish the Black community would stop doing to discount the realness of mental illness?

Catch y’all next time. Love always,

Tanasia, XOXO.

Open Letter to the ‘Strong Black Woman’ Suffering In Silence

What makes Black women different from any other person grappling with mental illness? Let’s back up a bit.

So this is a piece I wrote a little over two years ago for one of my other blogs (that kinda fell to the way side lol). But I feel like it’s as relevant today as it was the day I wrote it. Feel free to share your thoughts below …


“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with you.”

“Deal with it. You’ll be alright”

“You don’need therapy. God will take care of it.”

I’ve heard it all before. And there are probably a thousand more dismissive statements like these,  but Lord knows I don’t have time to run through them all.

It’s little quips like these that make mental illness an untouchable topic in the Black community. It’s rarely talked about — if ever.

And if you’re a Black woman? Forget about it. Between juggling school ,work, kids, relationships and whatever else you’ve got going on, there just isn’t enough time left to tend to YOUR needs. Self-care tends to take a backseat to daily responsibilities, especially when you’re already wallowing waist-deep in symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc. So what makes Black women different from any other person grappling with mental illness? Let’s back up a bit.

As a little girl, I was introduced to the concept of the “Strong Black Woman.” Actually, it was more than a concept — it was my reality. I had strong, beautiful Black women all around me: my mother, sister, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, family friends, you name it. So naturally, I bought into this “persona” and aspired to be her.

She was the definition of independence and oozed confidence from every pore. She served as the backbone of the family, holding everything (and everyone) together like glue. She did whatever she had to do to get the job done, making the seemingly impossible, possible. She was a multi-tasker, like one of those plate spinners balancing 4, 5, 6 plates at a time. Hell, she was damn near Superwoman. But of course, things aren’t always what they seem.

“The Strong Black Woman” is expected to do it all and never break a sweat. She better not cry, flinch, complain, bitch, moan or groan about it because it’s what she’s SUPPOSED to do. All that “emotional” stuff is dealt with behind closed doors, mental illness included.

The pressure to hold it together, coupled with the shame of dealing with mental illness in secrecy is enough to make anyone crack. However, the lack of availability / affordability of mental health care often leaves low-income women of color with few options,  exacerbating the problem. Let’s not forget about the unfavorable reactions we sometimes get from loved ones when we finally get the gumption to speak on what we’re going through.

And so, with the pressure to be perfect weighing her down, the limited opportunities to get help and the slew of negative stigmas attached to her mental state, the “Strong Black Woman” retires to her bedroom and continues to suffer in silence.

To that woman, I want to say you’re not alone. You never were. You may be hurting and in pain, but it’s not to late to take control and turn it around. YOU are in charge of your own happiness.

“Strong Black Woman” is your descriptor, NOT your identity. Underneath, you’re a human with wants and needs, thoughts and feelings, strengths and weaknesses. There’s no reason to be afraid to let the world see.

Lastly (and most importantly), if you need help, reach out NOW. The sooner the better. It’s time you finally put yourself first. And when you do, I promise this gets better.

Sending all my love and encouragement your way.

Sincerely,

A “Strong Black Woman” who refused to suffer in silence ❤