E Em HTPU (Greetings, may peace be upon you).
Giving birth to a community is a uniquely feminine gift women bestow. Sadly, our capitalistic society disrespects this gift with violence against female bodies, spirit, and our minds. It twists this gift until women, Black Women specifically, internalize our community’s problems while also trying to cure them. Black women! Superwomen! Lay down your cape – make some time for some much needed self-care.
This generational legend of the Black Super Woman has lent itself to several psycho-socio-economic problems. Even though Black women are the most matriculated of America’s marginalized groups, we tend to receive culturally incompetent and poor quality health care, with hardly any form of recourse built into the healthcare system.
When we seek care, our wellness concerns are often met with by providers who are more likely to dismiss or misdiagnosis our symptoms. For example, when Black women seek help with deep feelings of sadness or feeling anxious, they are often told to “just rest”. How many times have our sisters been screened for depression, anxiety and over all general wellness? The sacredness of our body, mind, and spirit is forsaken by stigmas brought on by providers without humility or shared experience.
The top concerns facing Black women are mental health concerns such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and social anxiety. These concerns rank higher than the counter parts of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (though they usually co-occur), breast cancer, cervical cancer, fibroids, premature births, sickle cell, syphilis, and HIV. To believe that these health concerns are not a catalyst for dis-ease is to continue to use the Super Women cape as a blinder.
As Black women we are experiencing and reexperiencing the horrors of generations past. We are witnessing our sons, husbands and loved ones dying at the oppressive hands of the police; an illness not specific to us but killing us by numbers larger than other populations; and to complicate matters most, the Black Super Woman desires to help everyone with limited resources. The mind, spirit, and body cannot continue to be attacked, continue to suppress natural emotions, and present strength — this behavior leaves us exceptionally exposed. Black women under the system of oppression must decide that self-care is the priority.
Our community and families may have forgotten that we need to receive love and care — but have we forgotten too. In the past, it felt awesome to be a Shero, but today we are witnessing the long-term effects. Now this is the part when we talk about STRESS. Stress housed in our Black bodies. Injuries in our mind and heart manifested into disease. Diseases that threaten so many Black women’s lives. Diseases that can be prevented by self-care and healthy self-thought. Now is always the time to increase our self-care.
Here are 5 ways to start the journey to making yourself a priority.
- Take yourself to bed! Plan to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Sleep is important in weight management because it curbs emotional eating and allows the body to manage inflammation and injury. You’re grown enough to go to bed. SO, GO TO BED!
- Feed your spirit!Food enters our bodies, but its effects are not confined to our bellies, hips, and thighs, it can change our energy level and our brain chemistry. Changing our eating habits is a must in this day in age to boost our immunity and sustain our health. This doesn’t have to be complicated; eliminate processed, refined and fast foods.
- Get moving!A simple daily 20-minute walk or even the daily 7’s allows the body to rid itself of toxins and manage stress. If you can manage a kitchen dance party when your song is on, you can take some time to remember your body is yours. Remembering you belong to you is as powerful as the Serenity prayer.
- Be present! At this moment in time the best we can do is to slow down. Become still and focus. Place your awareness on your breath for 5 minutes. Studies have demonstrated that the practice of meditation/mindfulness is extremely powerful in resetting our nervous system. By learning to take a pause throughout the day we are allowing a personal check-in with our emotional self. This act may save you from taking a comment the wrong way or yell at our beloveds because we were on edge.
- Hush! Finally, in this time of increased uncertainty finding 10-15 minutes of solitude and silence is crucial. Studies show when we allow the brain 10-15 minutes of silence new neural pathways begin to develop. Spending time alone and in silence is much needed in the COVID-era to allow for a nervous system reset. Tired of all that noise — well, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Dua NTR (Thank you)
Shem E Em Htpu (I leave you in peace)
Mudwymn is Toni Tavita Martinez a psychotherapist in Milwaukee. Her focus is serving youth and families of color, predominantly American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) and Latinx who have experienced grief, loss, and intergenerational trauma caused by various psycho-social economic oppression. She provides community and individual instruction in mindfulness/meditation, work life stabilization, ancestral repair work, somatic experiencing (body based techniques), ecotherapy (nature based therapy) and trauma centered therapies to bring individuals to a sense of self and aid in their personal repair journey.