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Bloom Into Your

Best Self. . .

May 2019

Please forgive the slight tardiness of this newsletter, as you all know I am still adjusting to being a mom (our baby is only 2 months old). I decide
 

 

Walk A Day In My Culture. . .

 

Self Care:
Essential For The Black Woman

Please forgive the slight tardiness of this newsletter, as you all know I am still adjusting to being a mom (our baby is only 2 months old). I decided to practice what I was preaching in this month's newsletter, I engaged in self-care before making the final edits to this newsletter, so again forgive the tardiness. I hope you enjoy it.

Today we are talking about the importance of self-care for Black women. If you aren't a Black woman, you still need to read this month's newsletter. Because chances are very high that you have some form of an intimate relationship with a Black woman. Be it that you work with a Black woman, have a client that's a Black woman, are friends with a Black woman, are dating a Black woman; whatever the capacity, you most likely interact with a Black woman often. So that makes this newsletter vital to your cultural awareness.

Why is self-care so essential for the Black woman? Why isn't it just as essential for the Black man, or the Latino Woman, or anyone else for that matter? Because unfortunately, Black women are subject to higher levels of stress than other groups and cultures, due to the generational trauma of racial inequality we have experienced.

Historically, Black women have been the backbone of their families for many MANY years. During the times of slavery, it was the Black woman who tended to the wounds of the Black man who was beat by the slave owner. During civil rights, when many Black men were marching and organizing for equality, it was the Black woman who encouraged him. As the times changed from slavery and civil rights, Black women held down the homes when our Black men began to be wrongly convicted and incarcerated in mass numbers.

These were heavy loads for Black women to bare, and we must keep in mind that during these times, Black woman had their own struggles to deal with emotionally and physically. Just think about it, it's PTSD at its finest. Tending to a Black man who very well may have been beat by the same slave owner who raped her must have been a tough pill to swallow. Being reminded of the cruelty this slave owner put upon you, and now reliving that cruelty again as you tend to the man that was just beat. Imagine being in that level of trauma. That type of pain was engrained in a Black woman's psyche and passed down generation after generation. The trauma continued during the civil rights movement. The feeling of fear that her husband or children would be mistreated on their way home, or worse lynched, was a valid and rational concern for a Black woman. And truth be told, it is still a valid and rational fear for the Black woman today in 2019.

This heightened level of trauma and fear was (and is) real for Black women. And because we haven't been able to escape the years of racial trauma and fear, our psyche has been affected for years. But in addition to our psyche being plagued with trauma and fear, it is also drenched in the belief that it is a necessity to "keep it together." Here I must reference slavery and civil rights again because it is so pertinent to how we as Black people are made and wired. Continue to think about this with me.

If a Black woman didn't hold things together during those times, things would fall apart. It was crucial that the Black woman took care of the home, the man, and the family. Things would not function if the Black woman didn't do this, because the Black man was organizing rallies and marches to fight for equality. The Black man may have been working to find a way to escape the struggles of slavery, all while working in the field all day. Let's not forget what happened when the Black man was (and is) wrongfully accused and incarcerated. And God forbid, when a Black man is wrongfully killed by police (aka lynched). So what choice did the Black woman have in these instances? Things still had to be taken care of. Children still had to eat and be cleaned. Food had to still be bought and rent had to still be paid. All while the Black woman's experience and need for being tended to fell (and falls) by the wayside.

So what's so bad about a Black woman caring for and tending to her family Narissa? Especially when it is REALLY needed? I'm glad you asked. . . Nothing. The problem is the pressure that comes along with this tending and caring, the pressure to "keep it together" or everything will fall apart. The pressure that it all falls on the Black woman. I know this pressure too well because of my clinical work. So many Black women have sat in my office struggling with the idea that if they take a simple moment to themselves and say "no" everything will fall apart. Even struggling with the idea of crying in session and allowing themselves to have a moment to feel their feelings.

I also know this pressure because, well you guessed it, I'm a Black woman who has felt the impact of the "keep it together" pressure in my own life. This pressure and learned behavior, that is so hard to unlearn. A pressure, that if Black women are not careful, can burst our emotional and physical pipes. Which is why it is essential for Black women to begin to unlearn this way of thinking, and for those in her life to encourage and support her in the need to take care of herself. Because we don't want Black women to experience the latter.

When Black women don't take care of themselves, they are more prone to depression and anxiety. Don't believe me? Do you research and check the stats on depression and anxiety rates in Black women compared to other ethnicities. As Black women we hold so much on our plate so we are more prone to higher stress levels. These higher stress levels lead to depression and anxiety. Well that can be any culture Narissa. This isn't just isolated to Black women. I hear your rebuttal loud and clear. But, I meet it with this fact. . .

Yes, anyone from any culture can experience higher levels of stress, you are absolutely right. But when you mix the stress the Black woman experiences with the continued racial generational trauma, you have the isolated experience. The isolated experience of a Black woman being more prone to higher levels of depression and anxiety if she doesn't take care of herself. Therefore, it is crucial that Black women engage in self care, and I have three tips (and pep talks for the Black women reading) on how you can encourage and support Black women in caring for themselves.

#1 - Her intuition is important

Google defines intuition as the following:

"The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning."

The Black woman needs to be encouraged to listen to her intuition. She needs to be supported in listening to her gut when it comes to caring for herself. We all know when we have reached our limit in what we can realistically do, what we can honestly take on, and how much we can truly be available. But many times we don't listen to it and continue to push ourselves. Well, for the Black woman, many times she is already pushed. She has pushed herself much further than she needs to, so her intuition is important.

If you are a Black woman reading this. . . LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!!! If you know you can't take on that extra meeting, that extra client, that extra activity for you children, or that extra family gathering. LISTEN! Pay attention to your body, mind, and spirit; your physical and mental health depend on it. If you are not a Black woman reading this, listen AND WATCH. Pay attention to the behaviors of the Black woman in your life. Does she not seem like herself? Is she a bit more short with others? Maybe she's stressed and needs the encouragement and support to engage in self care.

We as Black women are often viewed as "angry," but sometimes we are simply showing signs of stress and burnout. Unfortunately at times, this stress and need for self care is shown in our behaviors, which can sadly be deemed as "the angry Black woman." This is insulting and hurtful to us, because in actuality we are simply the Black woman who is exhausted and needs a break. Keep in mind that a Black woman may not verbally express her exhaustion and desire to take a break. Why? Well, because we have to "keep it together." Bringing me to my second tip.

#2 - Her voice is important

Black women. . . SPEAK UP! You do not have to always have it together, and if you need help or a moment to yourself, say so. It is okay for you to name that you need to take a moment from a long day before cooking dinner, or supporting a friend in need. IT. IS. OKAY. TO. SAY. NO. If you don't you will burn yourself out, possibly to the point of no return. Remember, no doesn't have to be no forever, it can simply be no for right now.

If you aren't a Black woman, praise her when she does speak up and voice her needs. Don't criticize her or judge her for not "keeping it together." Because the truth of the matter is, the ability to speak up shows that she DOES have it together. She has it together enough to recognize that she needs to voice the need to rest and engage in some self care. Why is that a problem when Black women do this? Think about it. When non-Black women speak up, expressing their need for self care, they are praised for it. You hear comments like "she is advocating for her needs" or "she is being so strong and assertive." But the Black woman does the same thing and she is judged for being "selfish" or "lazy" or "mean," all while she is voicing the same need as a non-Black woman. So support the Black woman, even encourage her, when she says no and takes a moment for herself.

#3 - Others are important, but. . .

Black women, other people in your life are important, but you can't care for them if you don't care for yourself. I know you have a desire to be a nurturer for those you love, it's okay that we inherited that during slavery and civil rights times, but nurture yourself first. This may sound harsh to you, but let me put it in the context of a metaphor. How can you give to those you love if you are giving from an empty cup? You can't. And if you keep trying to give from an empty cup, you and those you love will end up thirsty and dehydrated. So yes, those in your life are important, but you will not be able to support them like you want if you don't support yourself in doing the things you need to do to remain grounded.

Others in the Black woman's life. . . Help her fill her cup by sharing what's in yours. Recognize the things she is doing for you in your life. Regardless if she is a friend, family member, or co-worker, you can acknowledge how much she is doing and provide her with praise and thanks. You can take a step in helping her engage in self care by pulling back a bit, not allowing her to take care of you so much. Yes, this may be scary because she is such a support to you, but it is necessary for her to continue being a support.

Friends of Black women, maybe reduce the times you need her or ask her for something. Not completely reducing it forever, but resisting the urge to rely on her every once in a while. Family members of Black women, find ways to relieve the stress she may be experiencing from doing that extra load of laundry or standing up and cooking a meal right after work. Find a way to help her out, maybe order take out one day in the week, or wash a load of her clothes, make it a point to take care of her. Co-workers of Black women, pay attention to how much you rely on this Black woman. How much does she help you? Help others? Maybe take a moment to acknowledge her, buying her a cup of coffee or tea, and encouraging her to take the time to drink it before moving to the next task.

These are just some suggestions that people in the lives of Black women can do to support the Black woman. Get creative and think of how you can encourage her to care for herself. Because at the end of the day, Black women are important too, and their self care is just as important. Until June. . .
Snippet Of Next Month's Topic

Next month I am writing about "How To Remain Culturally Aware." Take a read at the snippet below:
You see, I had made a comment that was offensive to her and her culture. Although I thought I was being sensitive in the way I made the comment, but I wasn't and it didn't land right with. . .
Cultural Tidbits

Take a watch at the video below regarding the need for women to take care of themselves. The speakers perspective is interesting and a valid.
Take a read at this article below from Essence magazine. It offers wonderful tips on how Black women can care for themselves.
Protect Your Magic! 9 Self-Care Acts Black Women Should Practice
 
 
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