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For Mental Health Awareness week, BLACK ENTERPRISE is interviewing numerous individuals within the wellness community to talk about the racial disparities that affect the Black community in the hopes of creating a safe place to talk about mental health. 

Meditation apps have grown more popular as more Americans begin to prioritize their health and wellness needs. Despite their popularity, many of these apps are focused on a predominantly White audience and do not cater to the specific struggles that people of color face, specifically in this politically-charged climate.

After learning to cope with the recent onslaught racial injustice and police brutality, Katara McCarty sought out to create a meditation app for women of color.

McCarty is the founder of EXHALE, the first emotional well-being app designed specifically for Black women and women of color. The content is separated into five categories for daily mindful practice including affirmations, guided visualizations, breathing, and meditations. In light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and recent protests, McCarty is providing the premium version of the app for free in September.

BE: How did you get the idea to create EXHALE?

McCarty: During the beginning of quarantine, I was proactive and began to amp up my self-care. I did more things to get still daily, find time to rest, commit to moving my body, and meditate more often.

As the news began surfacing about COVID-19 hitting Black and Brown communities disproportionately, my heart became heavy. Almost simultaneously, while that was occurring, the video of Ahmad Arbery went viral. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, and hopelessness for my community. The weight I felt was not unfamiliar, as I have felt this before with other tragedies due to systems of oppression my community has experienced. As we were reeling about this, we heard about Breonna Taylor’s murder, and the George Floyd murder was videotaped and going viral.

What we were seeing wasn’t new to me, but it felt incredibly insurmountable. I began to ask myself what I was going to do. How was I going to lean into my community and help? I got still, tuned in to myself, and listened for the answer. After several days, I got it! I would create an emotional well-being app for Black, Indigenous, Women of Color. Putting in the app the practices I’ve adopted in my everyday life that have kept me centered and grounded.

I created this app for BIWOC because most well-being apps are predominantly White-narrated, White-owned, and are overall White spaces. The uniqueness by which BIWOC has to weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression.

Why was creating this kind of service for Black women important to you?

The uniqueness by which BIWOC weave through life, I believe, calls for a unique and specific curation that speaks to us and the weight that we carry because of racism, anti-blackness, misogynoir, and all systems of oppression. BIWOC are some of the most marginalized in our society. I was also raised by two Black women who took me in and adopted me after my biological mother abandoned me. Creating this app feels like a full-circle moment for me as I specifically give back to the community who stepped up, took me in, and raised me.

Your service is free for September. What prompted you to make that decision?

We launched our app on August 25th, two days after the shooting of Jacob Blake. When I heard Jacob’s family speak, specifically his sister, I could feel their pain and grief. I decided that I wanted to make EXHALE completely accessible to be a resource for us as we continue to navigate our collective grief, pain, fear, anxiety, and trauma.

Why is it important for Black people to incorporate mediation into their daily routine?

According to the American Institute of Stress, deep, abdominal breathing reduces stress and anxiety. For just 20 to 30 minutes each day, “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.”

Our parasympathetic nervous system controls the predominant state our bodies should be during downtime, which should be 80% of the time. It’s the natural state we should be living in when not in danger. Our heart rate slows down, our breath is calm and relaxed, our digestive system is stimulated, and our hormones are balanced.

Yet BIPOC are often living in what the body perceives as danger due to racism and other forms of oppression. Our chest is tight. We’re tense. Our breath is short, we’re poised to fight, fly, or freeze, and it is making us sick. It is imperative that we tap into our breath, to reduce stress, to tune into our parasympathetic nervous system, and to heal.

When we experience stress and anxiety, we can use the power of our breath to come back to a state of calm. Tools that provide guided breathing techniques and mediations help individuals harness our breath to inhale calm and exhale stress and anxiety from body.

Taking the time for ourselves and focusing on our breath as BIPOC is both an act of reclaiming our power and an act of resistance. We may not be able to control what’s happening to us outside of our homes, the daily microaggressions and racism we’ll face, but we can control our breath. Our breath is in the moment, now, and we can use that breath to ensure we’re not holding the oppression we experience in our body. Deep breathing becomes an active tool to resist the toll that racism has on our bodies and minds.

Source: Blackenterprise

Depression can be debilitating and is very different from just feeling unhappy. Usually, there is a reason for unhappiness such as being rejected or not getting the job you wanted. Depression is a pervasive feeling. It’s almost as if you are in a black tunnel with no light. Hope disappears and the things you used to find enjoyable become a chore. Even winning the lottery would not snap someone out of depression and it is never a good idea to tell someone who is depressed to sort themselves out and pull themselves together. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple, but there are ways to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

1. Practice Mindfulness
A depressed mind tends to mull over all that is wrong and worries unnecessarily about all the negative possibilities that may emerge in the future. This negative thought cycle reinforces misery and is not helpful in managing to overcome depression. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and is a skill that needs to be practiced. More often than not, our brains are full of thoughts and focusing on the present moment seems unnatural for our minds. Practice on engaging your senses in the moment. Focus on touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. Engaging the senses leaves less time for worry.tely, it isn’t that simple, but there are ways to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

2. Stop the Negative Self Talk
Depressed people tend to see the world in a negative way. When things go wrong they blame themselves and when they go right, they put it down to luck. Depression reinforces self doubt and feelings of worthlessness. Monitor your inner negative talk and make allowances for this type of thinking by reminding yourself that your thinking is that of a depressed person, not a healthy functioning person. Don’t take your thoughts seriously when you are feeling low. Acknowledge the thoughts but this doesn’t mean you have to believe them. Keep perspective.

3. Distract Yourself
If possible, do your best to distract yourself from over thinking. Your thoughts are your enemy when depression sets in. Play with a pet or go for a walk. Read a book if you are able to concentrate or finish a puzzle. Do anything that takes your mind off your fears and worries. Keeping busy is an effective way to overcome depression.

4. Connect with Friends
This can be one of the hardest things to do when feeling depressed but it is one of the most rewarding activities. Force yourself to go out. Isolating oneself from others may seem a good idea but put a limit on it and then get out there again. This can have a huge positive effect on your mood.

5. Forgive Others
When we hold a grudge, we are the ones that feel the anger. The person whom we are angry with is probably merrily going about their business completely oblivious to your feelings. Don’t allow others to have this power over you. They have may have caused you grief in the past, try not to allow that grief to continue – it only affects you, not them. Find a way to forgive – they are not worthy of your time. Lighten the emotional load and you will improve your mood and help you to overcome depression.

6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and mood are closely connected. Inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can enhance well-being. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood.Take steps to ensure adequate sleep will this will lead to improved mood and well-being. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort so aim for between 7.5 and 9 hours sleep per night.

7. Exercise
Regular exercise has benefits for helping to overcome depression. Exercise releases endorphins which improve natural immunity and improve mood. Besides lifting your mood, regular exercise offers other health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease, cancer and boosting self-esteem. Experts advise getting half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking at least three to four times per week.

8. Don’t give up
Depression can make you want to hide away from the world and disappear. It’s okay to take some time out but give yourself a time limit and then do something productive to improve your mood. Depression can be well managed (I know this from personal experience) and there can be a wonderful life beyond depression. Hang in there and keep the faith.

Although the above suggestions can be effective, depression that perseveres should be investigated further and seeing a Doctor to chat over any symptoms is a step in the right direction.

 

Ezeh Veronica Ogochukwu is the Chief Psychiatric Matron in Yaba Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos and also the CEO of Adicare Rehabilitation Home. A native of Imo State, she’s proficient in multiple Nigerian languages, as she has lived in different parts of the country. In this Interview with Maria Diamond, she spoke about mental illness; the need to care for mentally ill persons and why depression should be taken seriously.

Where did the drive to help mentally ill persons come from?
As a child, I have always seen people stone the mentally ill persons on the street when they ask for food, and it pricked my heart. That motivated me to see what I could do to help them. So, I decided to study Nursing, and afterwards, I went for my specialty in Psychiatry at the School of Psychiatric Nursing, Aro Abeokuta. I did my Masters In Public Health at the College Of Medicine Ladoke Akintola University Oshogbo, and I graduated in 2016. I have been in Yaba Psychiatric Hospital since 1999.

Back then in the hospital, there used to be a Doctor, who used to pick mentally challenged patients on the street to Psychiatric hospital and I was among the young nurses on the team for the clearing service to pick patients on the street. We went as far as RCCG camp to pick patients and at the end of the day the hospital was able to reunite some of these patients with their families. That encouraged me and over time, I started helping people with mental illness on my own with what I have. I had the advantage of languages, as I was able to relate and communicate in different languages to each patient. Once you speak their language, they pay attention to you. Some of them even attempt to hug me and sometimes it really looks crazy on the street. I give them food and help them clean up if they agree.

I had a child that had infantile cancer, Adikachukwu. We noticed he was running a severe temperature as early as three-months old but we didn’t come to diagnosis until he was 4-year old. When the case became so terminal, we searched for help; Lagos State Government intervened, and we travelled to India for treatment. On our way back on August 30, 2018, the boy died

A week before his death, he requested for a birthday gift as his birthday was approaching. He wanted a big celebration with a lot of people, but he died before his birthday. So, while mourning, I kept thinking what I could do to make his birthday relevant despite his demise, since it was his last wish. The inspiration came to me that celebration could come in different form, even if I channel resources into further helping the mental destitute by building a rehabilitation home for them since my interest lies in helping the mentally challenged. So, I registered the home with his name Adicare. Adicare Rehabilitation Home has advocacy section, social support section, counseling, rehabilitation seminar, health talk etc.

What is the target?
I look forward to seeing a society free of vagrant psychiatric patients. It is a dream; I long for it and hope to see a generation free of mentally ill people wandering the street. I cannot do it alone, but I believe it is possible because Lagos State has a centre and all they need to do is to create more centres. I remember picking a mentally ill patient who had a fracture on his feet on the street and I wanted to offer help and the hospitals denied me help. I took the patients to series of hospitals in Lagos and they denied him treatment.

At a stage I had to quietly leave the patient at the last Government Hospital in Gbagada and I walked away. I put up a petition and at the end of the day, Lagos State took the patient and he is at Majidun Rehabilitation Centre. So, really, if government wants to clear off all the mentally ill patients on the street, it is possible.

How do you think government can go about that?
They should sign a mental health bill because when the head is sick, every other part of the health is also in crisis. Also, there should be firmness on the issues of hard drugs and dealers especially amongst the youth in order to secure a safe future for them.

Are you in collaboration with other organisations on this cause?
I collaborate with the Association of Mentally Challenged persons such as World Mental Health Day, World Suicide Day, The youths, churches, and others in the community. In February 2020, we collaborated with Lagos Ministry of Education to create awareness on the causes and prevention of mental illness with focus on drug abuse. Because we see a lot of people on the street with hard drugs and we need to stop it from cradle before it goes out of hand. We picked age bracket 13-19, which falls in the category of Senior Secondary School.

We were allocated to Education District five, which comprises four Local Councils of Amuwo Odofin, Ojo, Ajeromi Ifelodun and Badagry. We covered all these within one month and we were able to attend to 60 Senior Secondary Schools. In every council, we have a centre where new students are brought in and we talk to them about causes of mental illness, preventions and the dangers of drug abuse. During this period, we were able to identify students who were already doing drugs. We discovered that some of them really didn’t want to do drugs, but got involved due to peer pressure; some due to family background, especially those in Ajeromi Ifelodun local council. Some are willing to quit drugs, but they don’t have the motivation. At the end of the day, most of the students agreed to form a group that fights against drugs but for the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic that has placed everything on hold.

Aside from hard drugs, what are the other causes of mental illness?
There are biological causes, psychological, environmental, genetics, depression, etc.

At what stage can depression lead to severe mental illness?
We have what we call reactive depression and endogenous depression. For reactive, patients react to situational crises, for instance, when you lose a job and you begin to withdraw and feel your life is over. However, with medication, you eventually get over it. Endogenous is just within; you can’t really tell what is causing it. It’s like a hormonal factor you can’t fathom how it came to be. No matter what you do, the person is never happy.

What are the major categories of depression?
There is homicidal, suicidal, manic, psychosis, others. Some have manic-depressive psychosis, which is a dual form of depression. A little to the lower side and the next second the person is up and excessive. It is a disorder associated with mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic high

What do you think is responsible for the increase in depression in recent times?
In this era of coronavirus pandemic, many people have lost their jobs; many can no longer provide adequately for their family due to the downturn in the economy. I recently heard a father come up on national radio that the government should open school because his children are eating up all the food in the house. There are a lot issues, husbands can no longer take up responsibilities in the family, and some women are now going into prostitution just to make extra cash for the family.

What is the treatment procedure for depressed persons?
People should know the signs of depression, which includes being sad unnecessarily. Someone who used to be friendly suddenly becomes a sad person and withdraws from people, they start looking as though the entire burden of the world is on them. They begin to talk about ending their own lives because they don’t have reasons to keep living. So, to save the situation, it is important to see professionals; know what the person is going through before administering medication. In management of depression, medication is not the only solution; it goes hand in hand with psychological care.

What category would you place someone who commits homicide, depressed or mental illness?
The cases differ; most homicide cases are more anger issues than depression or even mental illness. Anger can be very suppressing; you let anger in and destruction kicks in. A man finds out his wife has been cheating on him, he gets extremely angry, loses his cool and control, and just kills her. Sometimes without the intention to kill, but in the moment of anger, he kills her anyway. So, except we really assess such murders we can’t exactly conclude that it’s a case of depression or mental illness.

How would you describe the mental condition of the elderly?
As human grow older, our organs start coming down. And for some, recaps of unfulfilled life events affects them and regret kicks in as they count their accomplishment. A lot of issues like loneliness become overwhelming and they begin to have dementia.

What is the future of the mentally challenged?
When they get better, we try to unite them with their families. But for those whose relatives can’t be tracked, they remain in the hospital and get into one or two occupation within the hospital to make money. They live and grow old in the hospital. We call them ‘alaanu’ patients meaning pity patients.

Do patients who live permanently in the hospital get involved in a marital relationship after treatment?
Yes, after treatment, some of them try to come together to marry, but we strictly discourage such relationships. When we see a male and female getting too close, we find a way to discourage it because there is every possibility that their mental illness is genetic, which can be replicated. So, if they get married, their offspring can inherit the illness.

Do you think we have enough mental health hospitals in Nigeria to meet up with the challenges?
In my years of experience in the psychiatric hospital here, I don’t think we’re doing badly at all. As a matter of fact, people bring back relatives outside the country with mental illness to our hospital here and they are always amazed at the rapidness at which these patients recover. The drug is universal. Aside from the drugs, our specialists in the field go extra miles to ensure that the root of the illness is addressed step by step and they recover. So, as a matter of fact, Nigeria has the universal best practice in the field.

How do you handle high-profile patients who worry about stigmatisation?
The management of mental illness has gone beyond stigmatisation with upgraded medications. Gone are the days when patients take medications and the effect makes them look dull and moron. Today, many high-profile persons are on mental medications and you won’t even know because of the transformation.

How do you source funds?
Presently, I have never been funded by anyone. It is self-funded, because of my passion and interest in the mentally challenged persons. However, I’m hoping that we get support from people, organisations, etc. in the future in order to further prevent mental illness in our society.

I have come to accept that being healthy is not impossible, especially as parts of our bodies are wired to work in tandem. Sometimes, we may not think anything could be bothering us or may be on our minds but if you start to have unexplained health issues, especially where all tests come back negative, you might want to check. It might have been pushed back in your mind but still nags at you. There have been times I didn’t realise I was dwelling on an issue until my body started acting up.

A few days ago, I told my friend that my entire system works with my state of mind, which is true. Some of the symptoms I have noticed makes me realise I need to slow down are:

  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches and feeling light-headed.
  • Increased indigestion, bloating, diarrhea.

Although I have no scientific proof, from my personal experience, here are some of the things that always solve the issue:

Rest

This is one of the things we overlook so much but it is vital for our bodies and mental health. If you are like me, you might constantly want to do something, but I’ve trained myself and my mind to not do anything when I need to rest. You hear of people getting burnt out or people losing their minds. We all need to make conscious effort to listen to our bodies and slow down. Rest might be the thing between you and another health crisis. Take time to rest, it is important.

Keep a positive mindset

2020 has been a trying year for almost every single person in the world. Except you’ve been living in a cave! There is so much bad news and negativity, but you need to filter what you allow into your mind and what your mind dwells on. If there are things you’ve identified as constant triggers, do away with them as much as possible. Social media is a source of immense pressure for so many young people. With social media, what many fail to realise is that people post selectively. You would never know what battles or demons people are living with behind the scenes. For instance, we woke up recently to the shocking news of Chadwick Boseman‘s passing. Who knew that he had been battling for his life with cancer for four whole years? Through all the pain, chemotherapy, treatment, the man gave us his very best, then bowed out. He knew he had limited time, yet he put forward light, positivity, and such grace. Who would have thought?!

People have lost loved ones, jobs, and other things due to the pandemic. At a time like this, it is very easy to go on a downward spiral and stay depressed. But I like to say that as long as we are still living, there is hope. What other choice do we have? My take: stay positive and keep pushing, keep fighting.

Eat properly and stay hydrated

Our bodies are meant to be nourished for maximum efficiency. Once upon a time, I used to forget to eat. Then I started to taste bile, my body was overproducing acid and the required food for it to work with was absent. When I went to the hospital, all I was told was that I was not eating enough and the solution was so simple – no medication needed, just food. Eat well and balance out your food with the different classes. Junks can only nourish your body for so long before it starts to attack it. Drink water, lots of it. You’ll see the difference, and you’ll be thankful for it.

Exercise

We work hard and need some form of release for all the pent up energy. Not everyone might be a fitness buff, but something as simple as walking has so many health benefits. From exercise, new brain cells can be created, it increases the production of neurochemicals that promote brain cell repairs. I’ve also noticed that exercise makes me happy, helps with digestion and I use it as an outlet for frustration. It does me a world of good, always.

Keep good company

We were not meant to be alone or else we would have been individually placed on islands – that’s how I choose to see it. We need people! Human relations are important to how we function, so keep your loved ones close, create networks, and make friends. On a bad day, a kind word from someone may be all you need to light up your day. Even introverts who draw strength from being alone realise that they need company from time to time.

Have fun

Create moments you can look back on and smile. Don’t overlook your hobbies, you can’t take yourself so seriously all the time. Your body needs to be rejuvenated so find ways to do some fun activities. Laugh, play, dance, take note of the small things around you. 2020 has shown us the importance of not taking things for granted. During the lockdown period, so many people wished to just go out, to have fun, and to do the things they would normally do. Celebrate the small things, there is no point always waiting for something big.

Be present

Live in the now, enjoy the moment. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you have today. Be sure to make decisions for tomorrow but live in the present. I’ve realised that sometimes it is the simplest things that we fail to do that could save us down the line. Take advantage of opportunities now, listen to your body, and take care of it.

Any other tips to add to this list? Please share.

If you’re not protecting your mental health right now, you’re either struggling or a superhero. Even before the coronavirus pandemic there was plenty to stress about.

Concerns about everything from dirty dishes to climate change can affect your mental health. Just remember: You control your mental state. You may not be able to solve all of life’s challenges, but you can keep them from getting to you.

Safeguarding your mental health isn’t just about keeping your stress levels in check, either. For yourself and others, it’s critical for a healthy, productive life.

How to Protect Your Mental Health

Protecting your mental health starts with a simple commitment: to separate your internal state from what’s going on around you. Here’s how to do it:

1. Talk it Out

The first and most important step to protecting your mental health? Speaking up.

Opening up to friends and family about your mental health challenges isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it proves you’re strong enough to show others the not-so-perfect parts of your life.

Need an easy way to start the conversation? You could say:

  • “I want to share something with you.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about…”
  • “Can we talk about…?”
  • “I’ve been struggling with…”

Any one of these will allow an easy in to a conversation you need to have.

2. Shrink Your Screen Time

Tempting as it is right now, spending hours each day on social media isn’t good for your mental health. At best, you’ll distract yourself from what matters; at worst, you’ll internalize all the bad news and anger online.

Young people are particularly prone to this, but they’re not alone. A friend of mine got her daughter a Gabb phone, which is a safe phone for kids[1] that helps limit screen time. After I got my niece one, it made me think about how much I need to limit my own screen time.

I haven’t swapped out my smartphone, but I have put boundaries on how I use it. I limit myself to two hours of surfing per day, with a hard stop at 9 p.m. I don’t touch it again until I leave for work in the morning. Consider doing something similar to get yourself away from your screen.

3. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Another lesson I’ve learned about maintaining my mental health? Avoiding drugs and alcohol is key.

A few years ago, I got in the habit of pouring myself a glass of wine after a long day. It sure helped me unwind from the stresses of work, so I figured it was worth the health risks.

What nobody told me, though, is that alcohol makes anxiety worse. A few hours after having a drink, I noticed I’d get stressed out. Cutting back helped me get back to my normal self.

4. Don’t Neglect Your Diet

Have you ever heard medical experts call your gut “your second brain”? The reason is that the gastrointestinal tract has more nerve endings than anywhere in the body apart from the brain.

Every bite you take affects those gut nerves. Nutritious foods — the fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meats your mother likes to talk about — nurture it, while unhealthy ones upset it.

Cook meals at home whenever you can, and keep an eye on your snack intake. Even if you’re eating salmon and broccoli for dinner, binging on processed snacks at night could be messing with your mental health.

5. Stay Active

Your physical and mental health are more connected than you might realize. Regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as effectively, in some cases, as medication[2].

What type of exercise is best for mental health? Opt for cardio, but realize that anything is better than nothing. Whether you like to swim, run, row, or lift, get some fresh blood to your brain.

Don’t let your current fitness level be a barrier. When I was looking at new ways to exercise, I was looking at what a lot of busy entrepreneurs do to work out. I randomly came upon a site where Mark Cuban got a new e-bike and figured I would try one out. Within a few weeks, I was cruising for miles while listening to my favorite podcasts. It’s become one of my favorite times to learn while staying active.

6. Give Yourself a Break

Although perseverance is admirable, you have to cut yourself some slack when times get tough. Taking breaks is critical if you want to keep going for the long term.

Because I struggle to take breaks, I use the Pomodoro Method: I buckle down for 25 minutes, after which I give myself a five-minute break. There’s no right or wrong approach, but you do need a system.

How should you spend your breaks? Do something that rejuvenates you, such as:

  • Reading a book
  • Calling up a friend
  • Taking a bath or shower
  • Taking a nap
  • Going for a walk

7. Get Outdoors

Speaking of going for a walk, there’s no better way to get some headspace than to get outside. There’s just something about the smell of fresh air and the feeling of sun on your skin that melts stress.

8. Lose Yourself in a Hobby

Sometimes, an hour in the sun isn’t enough to take your mind off what’s bothering you. In that case, try diving into your favorite hobby.

Practicing a hobby helps you get into a “flow” state, which is when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you lose track of the world around you. That mental break can be just what you need to get some perspective.

As with exercise, what the hobby is isn’t as important as your ability to stick with it. If you don’t have much time or money to spend, good options include:

  • Drawing
  • Hiking
  • Reading
  • Dancing
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Knitting
  • Writing

9. Ask for Help

In rare cases, you might not be able to protect your mental health alone. If you’re feeling outgunned, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Although they mean well, your family and friends simply can’t provide the level of support a mental health expert can.

Remember, there are resources out there to help you get through tough times. Talk to your doctor, or call an helpline.

Source: Lifehack

Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

watched countless guides on how to become a successful startup founder. I have read quite a few myself and imagine my utter shock when the frustration from challenges started weighing heavy. From sleepless nights to anxiety, the way an entrepreneur reacts to failure can sometimes be the real enemy they need to conquer.  While it can be tempting to focus all of your time and attention on your business, it’s also important that you take care of yourself.

Depending on the type of business you run, some of the problems you may have include:

  • Constantly working for long hours to get your business off the ground or meet your business’ demands.
  • Partaking in business-related activities such as the creation of products, replying business emails and having business calls – all of which blurs the boundaries between your home and work.
  • Feeling lonely due to the absence of someone to share business ideas or problems with. Or the inability to have someone who understands the demands of being an entrepreneur.
  • Having multiple roles as well as managing the additional demands of running a business.
  • Dealing with responsibilities such as family financial issues.

Early Warning Signs

It’s important to be aware of some of the common signs and symptoms that let you know that you may be struggling with your mental health.

Some of the early warning signs include:

  • Lack of concentration;
  • Tiredness/Fatigue;
  • Unnecessary emotional response/ crying;
  • Easily angry or frustrated;
  • Inability or difficulty with making decisions;
  • Avoiding social situations; and
  • Drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While being an entrepreneur seems exciting – you’re pursuing a passion, being your own boss, making money and working on your schedule; however, the responsibilities that come with the role isn’t easy.

The following are tips to help you enjoy good mental health without compromising your health.

Acknowledge your mental health above everything else

Running a business is a full-time job. Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

One rule of the thumb is to dedicate an amount of time for you. It could be as simple as reading a book, drawing, making crafts or listening to music. Learn to relax and involve in activities that would make you happier and relieve your stress.

Learn how to ask for help

Many times, people compare asking for help as a show of weakness.  For example, letting someone know that you’re unable to manage your workload isn’t a show of weakness.

And as a business owner myself, I know that the last thing you want is for your employees to know that you’re struggling emotionally or feeling overwhelmed. However, the longer you try to cover it up and overcompensate, the worse it will end up. As doubtful as it sounds, asking for help is a show of strength. Acknowledging your limits and taking the right steps to overcome them is an attribute of a strong leader,

Avoid unhealthy comparison

Social media would have us believe everyone is living their best lives; travelling, buying property, running successful businesses. The line between reality and perception is becoming increasingly blurred, and when you’re having a bad day, this can make you feel incredibly bad about yourself

Comparison on social media is unavoidable, and psychological research has shown that this kind of comparison leads to a list of mental health concerns. Thinking that you’re the only person struggling with your workload or not having reached this [often imaginary] level of success can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression.

Because social media also allows us to network, connect with our peers and customers, and take our businesses to a global level, it’s impossible to disconnect from it altogether. Managing the amount of time you spend on it and the type of things you do while online is crucial to your mental well-being.

Create a balanced, healthy lifestyle

This one may seem obvious, but sleep deprivation, poor diet, and lack of exercise are just as bad for your mental health as physical. Though it may be difficult in the fast-paced startup life, committing to these important daily activities can be the deciding factor in whether your business fails or succeeds.

Force yourself to go to sleep by a certain time every night so that you’re getting the right amount of sleep and also getting your body into a healthy habit.

Make sure to set aside even 30 minutes of time a day to get in some quick cardio or a short one-hour class at the gym. And don’t neglect your diet! It doesn’t take much effort to take care of yourself, and the benefits are quite literally life-saving.

About Farida

Farida Yahya is the Founder of Lumo Naturals, an Abuja-based natural haircare solutions brand that provides a combination of natural products, techniques, artistic styles and education about African hair and the importance of healthy and natural hair to natural hair owners. She is also the founder of The Brief Academy, a learning hub dedicated to developing and supporting female-owned startups to achieving wealth and scalability. Farida is also the author of Redefining Beautiful, a book that discusses the realities of starting a natural hair business. You can connect with Farida Yahya on Instagram via her personal page @thefaridayahya and her business pages @lumonaturals and @thebriefacademy.

Missy Elliott is one of the hardest working entertainers in the game, but there was a time when it seemed more like the game was working on her, both mentally, physically, and emotionally. On a recent episode of Sway in the Morning, the 48 year-old-artist opened up about why she ultimately had to step away from the industry to continue to effectively walk in her purpose.

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To Missy, her time away from the music game acted as a catalyst for self-care in her personal life, and she recommends that no matter what line of work you’re in, you take time to take care of you, first, sis: The entertainer, who just came off of a 14-year hiatus with the release of her EP, Iconology, said that in the past, her struggle with Graves’ disease affected her career in a major way, even most recently during her recent performance at the VMAs

The singer recently told Angie Martinez that only hours before her show, she was rushed to the hospital because she couldn’t breathe. Despite her condition, Missy says she took some cough syrup and did the damn thing: Missy, who’s been open about her health struggles in the past, said that it was for this reason that she decided to bring her music career to a halt in the first place. The Virginia-born star first revealed her diagnosis with Graves’ in 2011 after she almost crashed a car due to muscle spasms.

She explained that at one point, her disease got so severe that she couldn’t even pick up a pen to do what she loved anymore:Despite Missy’s absence from the game, she’s back like she never left, but that didn’t come without some well-needed time for self, proving that it pays to take care of you, the world can wait.

Source: Hzeppfeed

Why do we often   blame situations or other people when you don’t reach our targets?

Perhaps you are are the one  holding yourself  back from achieving success or, if you possibly limit your results because of what you believe?

Limiting beliefs have a way of creeping up on us; they reveal themselves in different ways. Even if we think our beliefs all support us, a limiting belief can often rear its ugly head just when we least expect it and completely stop us in our tracks or make things feel harder than they actually could be.

What is  a Belief in this context you may ask?

It  is simply a feeling of certainty about what something means. The reason it can feel so certain is because it’s a story we have been telling ourselves throughout our lives unconsciously looking for proof of its truth. We find plenty of proof because that’s what we are looking for and, the more proof we find, the more certain we feel. This means we can either create more potential, or more limitation depending on what the belief actually is

Here are  5 of the most common self-limiting beliefs you need to be aware of and some practical tips to assist you to move through them

1. I Can’t

This is one of the most limiting beliefs you can imagine, because it gives no opportunity of you being able to do what you are telling yourself you can’t. The more you repeat this statement, the more you begin to believe it. Your unconscious mind is always listening and it responds to what you are telling it. Some people have even described this response as physically feeling blocked.

Even if you are just using this phrase to excuse yourself from doing something for someone else, then find another way of saying it, for example “I am unable to do that for you right now”.

There is no such thing as, “I can’t” and this is because you always have a choice. You can do anything you set your mind to and even if you don’t have the skills yet, then you have the ability to learn those skills. If you truly believe you can’t at the moment, then add the word “yet” to the end of your statement to create more potential.

  1. I Don’t Have Time

When you repeatedly say the same thing, you start to believe it and this means you will never find the time to do what you want. Holding on to this belief can keep you stuck for years.

When you start to see time as it really is which is just a social construct, you empower yourself to create a belief that works for you instead of against you. There is a simple and practical way you can do this:

Making a few simple tweaks in your own behavior, you will notice that you “always have enough time”, it’s just your choice as to how you use it, and you can begin to nurture that new belief.

3. I Am Not Good Enough

This is probably the most fundamentally limiting belief and it’s one that most of us can attest to having been at the mercy of at some point in our life.

We are always good enough and that’s the reason why we are here. We are good enough for each person, situation and opportunity that presents itself. Yet at some point in our life when our safety and certainty was threatened, we chose to believe that wasn’t true.

Because of this experience and what we decided to believe, we run patterns of behavior that are designed to protect us. When we are about to do something that will stretch our capabilities, we have a little voice that warns us of danger and tells us we can’t do it or we shouldn’t do it. This means we can often get in our own way and miss out on those opportunities, relationships and situations that can help us achieve what we want.

4.  I Will Be Judged

We can often hold ourselves back from doing new things because we are afraid other people will judge us and see us as lacking in some way. Remember, we often focus on our fear; and the more we focus on this, we will see more examples of people judging us.

You have no control over what others think or feel and most of the time, they don’t think anything about you at all. They are more concerned with what they think or feel about themselves, just like you are.

If you feel judged by other people, it’s more often than not just a reflection you see of your own thoughts and judgments about yourself

When fear of judgment comes up for you, ask yourself “Where am I judging myself right now?” Remind yourself that no matter what outcome you get, just the fact that you are showing up and giving things a go means you are always more than good enough, and that deserves acknowledgment.

  1. I Am Not as Good as Them

This is a self-limiting belief based on comparison. When we compare ourselves with others, it can really freeze us in our tracks.

This very limiting belief has become more prevalent since the upward surge of social media. It can cause us to waste precious energy, feeling we don’t have what it takes.

If you find yourself comparing and feeling emotions like jealousy, loss of confidence, annoyance or self-consciousness, then you can bet your bottom dollar this belief is playing out unconsciously.

Remind yourself that we are all different. This means we all have unique personalities, a range of different strengths and natural talents. It also means we all have different traits that require development. No one does everything perfectly and this is why we can all easily compliment each other in different ways.

There is no less than or more than, there is just difference. Just because they do it differently to you, doesn’t mean you are not as good as them; it just means you are unique and that is a good thing.

The Bottom Line

Identifying and acknowledging your self-limiting beliefs is the first step in taking back your own power. Blame can keep you stuck for years and over time erodes your self-esteem and can even cause you to go backwards.

True sustainable success is achieved from the inside out, by making the choice to work on your own belief system. It’s vital you weed out any beliefs that are limiting you in any way. This is the way to true empowerment and success, where you will open up your full potential and over time you will notice your life will become limitless.

Source: Lifehacks

Publisher, Betty Irabor, who has battled depression and attempted suicide in the past, shared a thoughtful piece on her Instagram page on Sunday.

In her write-up, the 63-year-old appealed to anyone suffering depression to seek help and deal with the root cause of their hollowness. According to Irabor, getting married, pregnant or buying material things, would not make them feel any better when the root cause of their depression hasn’t been dealt with. She wrote;

I was about 12 when I first saw a Rolls Royce. It’s owner was a guest of mum. Did I show off on that day? I earned renewed respect in the hood on Akinwunmi street.. well at least for few days! Sigh!! Yesterday I took the liberty of posing by this vintage monster of a ride In Warri. Na pose I pose o, I didn’t say it’s mine before you people will come for me!!

I remember thinking while in the throes of depression that as soon as my new ride arrived I would feel better. I didn’t feel better. And that’s how it goes on; when I get married I will feel better, when I am rich I will feel better, when I have children I will feel better, when I get that designer bag I will feel better, when I move into my new house I will feel better.

Truth is, things or people don’t make us feel better until we fix the cancer within and own up to the fact that we feel hollow within and need help. We carry around burdens and pains that we need to offload so we can travel light. We cannot fake true happiness, it expires as soon as we are alone and the reality of what we are masking hits us. We can lie to the world about how well we are on the outside but we can’t deceive our selves…
Life is about finding joy in little abundance and trusting that our current situation is only a part of our long journey….This present challenge is only a comma in a sentence and not the full stop…

Focus on what truly counts and live one day at a time. Most of us dont have it all figured out… na packaging…

Don’t give up on yourself, believe in endless possibilities and don’t focus on what could have been…

This is your time, make it count.

Credit: LIB

At exactly 10:42pm on 8th of March 2017, I wrote “Heaven I need a Hug” on my wall , perhaps I needed a hug considering the fact that I have several back logs and I was stressed at the time, but beyond that I wanted to see how people will respond , I wasn’t disappointed with the number of e-hugs I received within thirty minutes BUT two friends had to slide to my inbox and asked me to put down the post, one said it showed too much emotions and the other said “you are too strong to be perceived like a weak woman Esther , bring it down its not good for your brand”. Wetin concern personal brand with emotions ogini?

This is exactly the reason why people suffer and die in silence , imagine if all the people who committed suicide recently  put up a post similar to mine just to let people know they need help and get  such response from their friends?

Please let’s allow people express themselves on social media the way and manner they like, as a matter of fact I want to encourage anyone who is down, depressed or about to give it all up , put up a post and let’s know what you are going through , sometimes the closet people to us are our biggest problem and you cant tell your problem to a problem, it’s fine to seek help on Facebook or any other social media platform or other direct means.

Feel free to write messages such as :

“I am Depressed”
“I need help”
“I need to talk to someone ”
“Please help”
“I need a therapist”
“I need a counsellor ”
Etc etc etc

Just express yourself however you feel and I am sure someone out there will reach out to you. I am positive we have good people who truly care in Nigeria, all you need to reach them is to SPEAK UP!

I have been down that road before, and it’s not just being depressed because life happened or stress, I was in my world, the over analysing and over thinking stage where you feel living isn’t worth it anymore,  and I don’t pray to ever go there again, I was in self denial of my state of mind till a true friend who didn’t judge me asked that I seek help from a therapist . I am a survivor, no shame at all, and a proud Mental health advocate for She Writes Woman

If you need to talk to someone about your problems please reach out to the following people: Hauwa Ojeifo, Oyinkansola Alabi, Praise Fowowe , Laila St. Matthew-Daniel, Pamela Udoka.

I have a listening ear , I will give you a hug, give you my time and attention, walk you through the process but sadly I can’t offer you the professional help you need like the above mentioned persons. Please don’t die in silence , reach out, SPEAK UP and don’t let depression and suicide win.

Kindly add names of other therapist in the comment section ???.

Please seek help….

You are not alone…..