Black Joy and Mental Health

How to Focus on Your Mental & Physical Health

Taking time to truly celebrate Black Joy will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your mental health. Here are some ways you can focus on improving your mental and physical health while holding space for Black Joy.

1. Self Care

Self care is a critical component to racial justice. As activist Audre Lorde wrote in her 1988 essay collection A Burst of Light: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

What do you love to do? Is it cooking, dancing, making art, or reading that book you’ve already read six times on a park bench? Whatever it is, let yourself do it guilt free and bask in the sense of joy that the action gives you.

Part of self-care is caring for your mental health. If you’re looking to heal from any past trauma, you might want to consider therapy. Even if you don’t have any mental health conditions, therapy (whether in-person or online) is a viable option for people who wish to learn more about themselves and truly live in a mode of self-care as they work towards their best yourself. The more you work on yourself, the more you can contribute towards the world around you. Learn why self-care is important and how it can help you contribute to your community.

“There are many ways to increase your sense of self. Some of my favorites include: finding a community of others who are also on a self-discovery journey, reading historically accurate books about the triumphs of our ancestors, and leaning into doing things that bring you joy for no reason other than you want to. “

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, C-DBT

2. Invest in yourself and your community

Support yourself on your journey of growth. What tools do you need to be successful? Prioritize what you need most whether that means taking a class, watching an online lecture, carving out time to work on that project you shelved or rewarding yourself with a new professional headshot.

Feed your passions. Look towards your community and see how you can show up for them — do you have an extra hour every week to tutor a student, do you know an elderly neighbor who might appreciate an extra conversation?

3. Support Black owned businesses

If there’s something on your shopping list or you’re in the mood to give yourself a little something, celebrate Black Joy by supporting a Black-owned business. These companies would appreciate all your love and support. Try Kai for statement clothing, Rebecca Allen for shoes, and Briogio for clean, natural hair care products. If you’re looking for a new bank, OneUnited is the largest black-owned bank. Whatever you’re in the market to invest in, chances are there is a Black-owned business you can support.

4. Learn about Black leaders and Black history

Learning more about Black heroes — including those who pioneered the Black Joy movement — can be inspiring and educating for everyone. It can help shed light on the past, provide greater context into how we got to where we are today and motivate us to move forward. The people who inspire you from the past don’t have to be celebrities or well-known leaders, either. Family history is important as well.

“Take a few moments to learn your own family history, and while you’re at it: take the time to honor your resilience in spite of generational trauma!”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, C-DBT

5. Embrace your full self and influence others to do the same

Self love might sound cheesy, but it’s significant. No one’s perfect and everyone carries their own set of challenges and insecurities, but it’s important to appreciate yourself for where you are. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re doing great.

“Start the conversation of self-love early and often with your children. Purchasing or renting books on the beauty of Blackness is an excellent way to start the conversation. You can then transition to age-appropriate but historically accurate books on our heritage. Our children deserve to develop in a world that embraces their whole selves.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, C-DBT

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