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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

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.

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.

It’s interesting that some of our educated African brothers and sisters (African-Americans included) are ignorant of the reality of depression, even when we experience it. We worry more about what our kinsmen, friends, colleagues, and neighbours would say, rather than find ways to help ourselves, our loved ones or that stranger; crying out for help.

Son: I am depressed, Dad.

Dad: God forbid! It is not your portion!

Son: What does that even mean?

Dad: Rebuke it, Son! Depression is not for us. We are Africans. It’s a term oyinbo people use to seek for attention.

Son: I have been feeling depressed for weeks, Dad.

Dad: Biko, don’t let anybody hear you say that nonsense again. Tufiakwa! Abomination!

The next morning, this father found his only child in a pool of his blood, with a blood-soaked suicide note on his bedroom floor. All the signs were clearly there, just like in many cases.

***

Not many people experiencing depression express it or seek help. The question remains: how many people are attentive to these signs? How many people offer help?

There are several triggers for depression. Each trigger depends on an individual’s experiences, lifestyle, and/or thought-process.

There’s no shame in feeling depressed. It is not an abomination or a sin against God or Allah. Depression is real, as real as you can feel your breath under your nose. It is as real as the pain and emptiness it comes with.

Depression is a poison that can numb you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Who can relate? Say I.

You don’t have to have experienced depression to know it is real, or show empathy to someone experiencing it.

Depression literally kills many people on a daily basis. It does not discriminate, just like death. Even children as young as seven feel depressed. Many children and teens have committed suicide because they were depressed. No one is immune to feeling depressed. Many “normal people” have lived it too. They all felt depressed: lost, empty, alone, scared, and hopeless.

We need to educate Africans and families that depression is not a taboo. We need to be open to new information to better ourselves and wellbeing. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of to say, “I am depressed,” or “I need help.” It’s interesting that some of our educated African brothers and sisters (African-Americans included) are ignorant of the reality of depression, even when we experience it. We worry more about what our kinsmen, friends, colleagues, and neighbours would say, rather than find ways to help ourselves, our loved ones or that stranger; crying out for help.

All the signs are there. They are always there. We just have to pay more attention. When we are the ones experiencing depression, we should find the courage to talk to someone. Bottled emotions are like time bombs that will eventually explode. Rebuking “depression in the name of Jesus” is like rebuking the blood dripping on your face from a cut. You see the blood, you wipe it clean to treat the cut, and then ask God for healing, or you call your doctor for antibiotics. Being ignorant of the fact will simply make the cut/bruise prone to infection.

We need to know the difference between ignorance and foolishness. Being educated doesn’t equate to having common sense.

August Strindberg said, and I agree: “There are poisons that blind you and poisons that open your eyes.”

Depression is poison that can either blind us or open our eyes. It is like death slow in coming, if/when not taken care of.

Love can certainly help cure depression. Agape-kind-of love.

After all is said and done, what we tell ourselves takes root in our minds, therefore, controls our emotions and steps. Easier said than done, right? But, when being strong becomes our only way to survive, we start to see things differently, and we become the best of us … eventually. No doubt!

About Nkem

Nkem DenChukwu is a bonafide creative writer and filmmaker. In 2019, she became Houston Literary Awards – Reader’s Choice Winner. She delved into the arts of filmmaking and creative writing in 2012, and has since then, written 7 inspirational books for children, teens, and young adults. Nkem has produced 14 indie films in Texas. In 2018, she was featured in Forbes (Digital Edition) while five of her creative verses have been featured in Oprah Winfrey Magazine. Nkem was a Huffington Post Contributor. For more details on Nkem DenChukwu’s work, visit www.nkemdenchukwu.com

We all know what anxiety can feel like; it can be utterly debilitating and soul-destroying. Many of us are familiar with the pounding chest where you feel your heart is about to explode. Your face flushes or goes suddenly quite pale. You can feel the blood draining from your face.

The panic inside you says: “People are going to notice you experiencing this. Get out of here!” And the stinging fear of embarrassment and humiliation can overwhelm you to the point of tears.

Such experiences can be completely terrifying. We often want to stop feeling these symptoms altogether, however we need to recognize that in many cases, experiencing anxiety actually serves us well.

Our brains are biologically wired to help us survive. What’s happening here however, is our innate fear response has become hyper vigilant in a way that no longer serves us. It’s working in overdrive when we perceive (often subconsciously) there is a threat to our safety but there may not actually be a physical and real threat.

There are strategies you can use to regain control but you will need to consciously learn how to manage anxiety and reduce the emotional, mental and physical experiences you’re suffering.

1. Work with a Professional to Identify and Get Familiar with Your Triggers

Your experience of anxiety will be different to the next person and the next person after that. It’s important to recognize that the specific prescription of tools and techniques that work for you will be different to how they work for someone else.

Spending time to recognize patterns and common features of your anxiety should be a primary step in your management and recovery plan.

Despite popular belief that we need to go back to the root cause of how and why your anxiety started, it’s important to know that sometimes significantly traumatic events and/or experiences are better contained in the box with the lid on. In other cases, accessing the catalyst can be a lengthy and experience and near impossible.

Working with a qualified and trained mental health professional can greatly help you to gently and safely assess and determine things which can derail you. Doing so will not only help you protect your emotional and mental health, but add a greater sense of control in mapping and identifying graduated steps to work through as a treatment plan.

Look to partner with a supportive, empathetic trained professional in your corner who can see risks and help you develop suitable tailored action plans to manage and reduce symptoms that trigger your symptoms. You’ll increase control of your own progress, and your growing confidence can exponentially increase your recovery than trying to go it alone.

If you can’t access face to face or group workshops, online therapy (e.g. Better Help or Talk Space) is becoming much more widely available. There are options available for everyone.

2. Have Breathing Techniques up Your Sleeve

The mistake often made by those in the throes of experiencing heightened symptoms, is trying to recall specific ‘helpful’ thoughts to eradicate the unhelpful ones in that moment. This doesn’t work very often. It’s like trying to open the door of a front loader washing machine just commencing a spin cycle to put more laundry inside!

If your symptoms are highly intense, such strategy is unlikely to succeed. Your mind is the washing machine, by the way.

The way we breathe has incredible power beyond simply inhaling oxygen and expelling it from our lungs. The rhythm, pace and depth all have significant calming and healing effects on us.

Neuroscience documents that by switching focus to managing your breath halts certain neurons sending panic signals throughout your body.[1] The result is calmer physiology.

Making it your job to calm your breath first helps reduce intensity of those tangible symptoms screaming at you.

We breathe in two ways: through our thoracic region and through our diaphragm. The latter is the one you want to focus your attention to:

  1. Place your non-dominant hand, palm down flat over your chest and place the other just under your ribs on your diaphragm.
  2. Either close your eyes or drop your gaze to a 45° angle and choose a spot to loosely focus on.
  3. Draw a breath in through your nose, gradual, slow and smooth as silk for three counts.
  4. Hold the breath for a split second.
  5. Purse your lips and expel your breath again for 4 or 5 counts, slow, smooth as silk. Control the exhalation.

The next breath cycle, you may want to breathe in for three counts and exhale for five counts. Practice this for at least 5 cycles or at least till you start to notice you are physically calmer in some respects.

If you suffer from panic disorder,[2] you can initially feel increased panic or anxiety doing this technique. Stop and practice again a little while later. You need to switch focus from thoracic (chest) breathing which is common during panic attacks, to diaphragmatic breathing.

Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to try putting the technique into effect. Practice during a time when you are calmer so your brain and body develop a familiarity of the process and what a reduction in your symptoms feels like.

Like a competitive sport, you practice off the court so that when you get on the court, you’re well familiar with what you need to do. You only need to press the proverbial button and let a more automatic, practiced process wield its magic. Practice.

3. Learn Grounding and Distraction Techniques Which Give Your Mind Something to Do

Such techniques are distractions. Do they get rid of your anxiety? Unlikely. Do they help to cope with and reduce the intensity of your symptoms? Yes, so that you can recalibrate yourself to a more organized mental state from which you can engage cognitive exercises that challenge and reframe unhelpful thoughts.

If you’re never thought games such as eye-spy would ever come in handy in your adult years, here is news for you!

Start with the letter ‘A’ and look to name everything you can see around you starting with ‘A’. Move on then to the letter ‘B’ then ‘C’ and so on. Search as far, wide and deep as you can looking for objects that start with your letter of focus.

Or, use colors. Work your way through the colors of the rainbow sequentially identifying as many things as you can that showcase that color. Fully immerse into the exercise and give your mind something to focus on. Spend a few minutes to do this.

A tangible grounding technique is to focus on what you have physical contact with. Pay attention to the sensations; how your bottom touches and squishes into the chair or your back muscles press into the back of your seat.

How do your feet feel in your shoes? How do your clothes feel against your skin? You’re tasking your mind with an activity which decreases capacity for it to focus on your present symptoms of anxiety.

4. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Professor Jasper Smits and Professor Stefan Hofman have conducted extensive research into the most effective treatments for managing adult anxiety. They published findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry from an extensive meta-analysis which revealed CBT to consistently have strong impact in the treatment and management of anxiety.[3]

CBT involves addressing, challenging and reframing negative thoughts and re-shaping unhelpful behavior. A task-based, practical approach is applied to help clients recognize maladaptive thinking and habits, learn more helpful and positive ways to behave and think; and in turn, transform their symptoms.

For individuals to really experience benefit, undertaking regular applications of doable homework exercises is most effective. CBT is highly effective but requires individuals’ regular commitment.

Expect to work with a mental health professional on a weekly basis for three to four months. Find someone who won’t just give you homework sheets (that’s lazy therapy) but is closely attuned to providing you with good education, comfortably assess any resistance to change, and be able to modify and adjust exercises that best enable you to do them.

You won’t just experience a reduction in your symptoms because you develop such strong self-awareness and self-monitoring skills. You’ll learn mental skills that will strengthen your resilience and propel you further forward toward goals of how you want to feel, think and behave.

5. Try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT which involves applying light repetitive pressure to meridian points, is becoming increasingly documented as an effective symptom reduction technique for anxiety.[4] Also known as ‘tapping,’ anyone can learn to self-administer it with the guidance of a practitioner.

In collaboration with professional associate Gary Craig, Clinical psychologist Dr Roger Callahan[5] developed a simple yet effective self-administered process where individuals self-apply pressure to acupressure points on their body.

Using techniques from neuro linguistic programming and thought field therapy, individuals consciously lean into degrees of discomfort concerning their thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms.

Best learned under instruction and support of an EFT practitioner or trained professional, you initially apply mindfulness to consciously become aware of your anxiety symptoms – thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

As you tap, you gradually start to experience relief and reduction in your symptoms. However, remember the level of impact felt will differ and progress at different rates from one person to the next.

Research shows that the positive effect of tapping is long lasting, particularly for anxiety disorders and post traumatic stress. It is becoming used more widely for other mental health challenges including weight loss, grief and loss, low self-esteem and confidence.

6. Use Imagery to Help Manage Anxiety

This is such an under-utilized but very powerful mechanism of our brain when it comes to directing our thoughts and behavior in a way to serve us, particularly in the context of anxiety.

Our brains are neuroplastic. We can train and rewire them to work better in our favor, yet we often live the majority of our day unconsciously by default.

Think about how many times you have day-dreamed today. When your tummy starts growling just before lunchtime, can you easily hook into images of what you want to satiate your hunger?

Often we engage imagery without thinking, but guided imagery is a key technique that helps with the reduction of anxiety with diagnoses of PTSD, social phobia and performance anxiety.[6]

Your brain’s amygdala plays a key role in emotional regulation[7] and hence those emotions connected with perceived fear responses when you feel anxious.

Imaginal exposure therapy (vividly imagining the feared object, situation or activity) works to dampen amygdala activity and reduce the intensity of emotions experienced in anxiety. You have the advantage of visiting memories in a safe, controlled space interspersed with grounding/relaxation, and gently exposing your mind’s eye to that which you feel anxious about. Starting this process should be done with a trained professional.

7. Ensure Relaxation Techniques Are in Your Toolkit

Being anxious is exhausting. For those who suffer from general anxiety, your stress response mechanisms are constantly running, so you need to learn how to tell your body to relax.

Having a couple of meditative instructional relaxation apps you can instantly access through your phone should be on your list of essential management strategies.

In your choice of apps and relaxation techniques. consider choosing one which engages as many of your senses as possible. The more physical feedback you’re directed to notice a reduction in your physical symptoms throughout the relaxation exercise, the more likely you will stick to it and be motivated to repeat it.

Progressive muscle relaxation should be in your anxiety management toolkit. This method directs you to focus on noticing the different feeling between active tension and resulting relaxation when you release the tension of a muscle. Sequentially working through muscle groups in the body from head to toe, your mind is directing and telling your body to become calmer.

You need to be sensible with this one where you might be recovering from an injury or be at risk of developing a physical injury. Certainly avoid this exercise (and meditation) whilst driving.

Again, practicing this one at regular times throughout the day gives your brain and muscles a mental blueprint to relax such that it will be more effective in anxiety-provoking situations. Because you can also feel immediate tangible differences, it can boost your confidence earlier than starting with exercises that are purely cognitive.

The Bottom Line

Reviewing your diet and exercise regime is a given. Reducing caffeine intake, processed food and improving physical movement you engage in daily has incredibly strong impact and makes the strategies above even more effective when you do them.

However, for you to get a strong handle on how to manage and reduce your experience of anxiety, you’re going to have to develop a commitment to regularly applying changes.

If you don’t know where to start, get in touch with a therapist. Your first step is to develop a strong awareness of what you’re experiencing and what could be triggering it.

When you know and understand more, you can do far more in the pilot seat to land your anxiety back on the tarmac and potentially never let it take off from that runway again.

Author: Helen Dasilva

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

Selena Gomez is speaking out about her hiatus from the public spotlight and mental health journey.

About a year ago, the singer went off the grid as she announced she would be taking a break from social media and later checked herself into a facility for help with her mental health.

Gomez has now opened up about what she called the “scariest” time of her life and her decision to finally seek help while receiving the 2019 McLean Award at the McLean Hospital’s annual dinner held in Massachusetts.

In her acceptance speech at the award ceremony, she said; “I think that we are better when we tell the truth and, so, this is my truth. Last year, I was suffering mentally and emotionally, and I wasn’t able to stay all that kept together. I wasn’t able to hold a smile or to keep things normal. It felt like all of my pain and my anxiety washed over me all at once and it was one of the scariest moments of my life”.

Gomez then explained that after she sought out help, doctors were able to give her a clear diagnosis, which she said was both terrifying and a relief. “Terrified, obviously, because the veil was lifted, but relieved that I finally had the knowledge of why I had suffered for so many years with depression and anxiety,” the actress explained.

With her new knowledge, she said she felt equipped to face it head-on. And while it is still an ongoing battle, Gomez admitted that she is in a much better place a year later.

“After a year of a lot of intense work. I am happier, I am healthier, and I am in control of my emotions and thoughts more than I’ve ever been. So, I’m very happy about that” Gomez went on to say that while it isn’t easy to share her story with the world, she knows that others will benefit from hearing it.

 

 

Credit: LIB

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

For close to a decade, Oyinkansola the founder of Emotion City has helped hopeless, depressed, suicidal souls, discerning Individuals and executives across thirty states in Nigeria and in six different countries, get clarity, increase productivity and profitability.

Emotions City is the One Stop Centre for Emotional Solutions. We invest our Energy and human capacity in Emotional Intelligence Training, Consulting, Coaching and Research.

We map out solutions to Emotional challenges, develop insights and strategies to the most pressing personal and organizational issues, and impact the course of history by inspiring, empowering and influencing Professionals.

We are willing and available to serve every human being, organization, religious institutions, Private and Public Sectors, Government and Nations. We believe that as long as you are a soul with a body, you need to learn how to harness, develop, and sustain emotional intelligence skills and competencies.

Meet the brain behind Emotions City

Oyinkansola Alabi popularly referred to as the Emotions Doctor is the Lead Researcher, Intellectual Property Owner and Lead Facilitator of EMOTIONS CITY. The Incredible blend of gift and skill is one of Nigeria’s clearest and high impact trainer. She has trained tens of thousands of executives who desired to achieve a high level of Emotional Intelligence at Guinness Nigeria, Interswitch, Stanbic IBTC Bank, FCMB to mention a few.

She is the Principal Coach of Emotions City, an Emotions Coaching and Consulting Firm.The Cornell University-Trained Human Resource Executive, Certified Life Coach, Cognitive Behavioural Specialist, Licensed Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, only female six seconds network leader in Nigeria, is also the convener of the first ever Emotional Intelligence Week in Nigeria and arguably in Africa.

Oyinkan serves as an ordained Pastor under the astute leadership of Pastors Taiwo and Nomthi Odukoya.

We are ready to hear from you;

Midnight listener link : http://emotionscity.com/midnight-listeners/?fbclid=IwAR3pEDmpLYzELT-WnkuuOOBwGGa8Okk1b_5jyT-8vbEpxzd9_BraWMdOebo

Our Listening Line – 08021250367, 08125116740

Follow us on Instagram – @emotions_city, @EmotionsDoctor

Twitter – @emotionsdoctor

Website – www.emotionscity.com

Last month, popular Nigerian Artiste Harry Song opened up on his battle with depression and cried out for help, while many mocked him for speaking up as a celebrated figure, one woman reached out to help him find his path and walk him through his healing process, that woman is Oyinkansola Alabi , popularly referred to as the Emotions Doctor, the Lead Researcher and Lead Facilitator of EMOTIONS CITY, an Emotions Coaching and Consulting Firm. The company works with leaders of various arms of Government and NGO’s as well as Business and Institution leaders at all levels, using original, home grown research and principle based methodologies.

She is one of Nigeria’s clearest and sought after high impact trainer. She has trained tens of thousands of executives who desired to achieve a high level of Emotional Intelligence.

The Cornell University trained Human Resource Executive, Certified Life Coach, Cognitive Behavioural Specialist, Licensed Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, only female six seconds network leader in Nigeria, is also the convener of the first ever Emotional Intelligence Week in Nigeria and arguably in Africa .Oyinkan also serves as an ordained Pastor under the astute leadership of Pastors Taiwo and Nomthi Odukoya.

In celebration of World’s Mental health week, Oyinkan shares her inspiring story with me in this exclusive interview as she highlights the cause of the recent increase in depression and her determination to give hope to those who are hopeless and on the verge of giving up.

Childhood Influence
In retrospect I think that my childhood prepared me for what I’m doing now because 2 months before I was born my father had stroke and that life altering experience introduced me and my family into a flavor of poverty and scarcity.I grew up faster than my peers because I had learned how to take responsibility for my existence.

I also promised myself that I was going to be the best version of what God created me to be despite my financially epileptic background. I must also admit that one clear value my parents transmitted to me was the yearning for knowledge.

I remember my father taught me how to read by giving me a book to read every week and when I was done reading he gave me a gift. I initially read because I wanted a gift but I later read to a point where I outgrew the gift. I knew I was consuming knowledge for my own good.

Oyinkansola Alabi

Meet Me!
I am the voice of your unconscious calling you to embrace your greatness. I amA soul who is passionately consumed by the vision to help adults take responsibility for their mental health and emotional stability.I desire to help as many people as possible in every state, every country, whatever gender, marital status, sexuality, religion, move from a place of emotional instability to a place of emotional stability, a state of unhappiness to a state of happiness. I am that soul who craves to help you increase your productivity, happiness and help live a life of fulfillment want you to know that we are not on earth to work, pay bills and die, you are here to enjoy your life.

Inspiration behind Emotions City

My desire to help people move from a state of pain into a state deep happiness and fulfilment ignited my desire to launch Emotions City.We actually launched the Youthmax Academy earlier which is arguably the first Emotional Intelligence Academy for Millennials in Africa.Then we started receiving training requests from Professionals and corporate organisations who had been informed of our unparalleled value and results. The essence of Emotions City is to help people live the best version of their life.We desire to help people reduce their pain, We desire to give life where death looms,We desire to reduce the number of hopeless, helpless, depressed and suicidal souls in Nigeria.We are also the only mental health facility in Nigeria who offers round the clock coaching and therapy service. While others close for the day, our midnight listeners are willing to listen and resolve emotional distractions.

Impact

I think that the results of my impact are in the quality of souls that I have been able to raise. I daily engage a principle I heard a while ago that, it is better to train a child than to repair an adult. I think it’s true because a number of professionals are repairing adults which in itself isn’t bad but I think we can become more proactive by raising kids instead.Raising kids is proactive, repairing adults is reactive.To this end, we have created sub units under the YOUTHMAX Academy called the Child and Teen max Academy. It’s been proven that it’s cheaper to raise than to repair. A broken soul at best will be remoulded but never restored to default setting. Only God restores.

Balancing it all

I doubt the concept work life balance exist, I think what exists in reality is work life integration. I integrate my life by living and existing one day at a time. I deliberately refuse to engage in emotional labour where I worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself, My duty is to prepare and plan. So my responsibility as a Coach, Pastor, Public speaker and Mum are going well. I am not perfect but I am getting better at it daily.

Work Challenges

I am in a field plagued my men. Men who have been programmed to think it’s their birth right to lead. Men who support other men and will choose other men before they remember women exist. They do this not because they hate women but because they have been scripted to reach out to other men before women.The second interesting challenger is fact that some clients feel entitled to your time and expertise. They feel it is your responsibility to serve them for free once they reach out to you. Most of them haven’t been trained to take responsibility for their mental health. They have been trained to request for freebies so once your invoice welcomes them to reality, they freeze and some resort to emotional blackmail. This really doesn’t bother me because I am aware I can’t help everyone. I will only help those I desire to.

Other Projects

We are collaborating with some international organisations to help develop revolutionary products. We will disclose them in due time but for now, we are concentrating on making Emotions City the one stop centre for emotional intelligence training and solution.

Reward

My greatest reward are the evidence of changed lives. I am not on earth to be rich or be wealthy. I am here to help souls embrace their inner divinity. I am also aware that resources will be provided while being consumed by my passion.

Emotions City in 5 years
In the next five years, we will have moved from being just service providers into products manufacturers and global thought leaders. Are you wondering how? We will share details when we can.

Never giving up
No I have never thought of giving up. My noble goal is addictive enough to consume me. I however get tired and when I do I reach out to mentors, friends and family members. I must admit that I am blessed with beautiful relationships that service my existence.

Women who inspire me

Models like Oprah, Serena Williams, Maya Angelou, Bimbo Odukoya inspire me to do more. These souls lived / live for humanity.

Being a Woman of Rubies

One familiar truth I am aware of is that I am authentic.I am true to my soul. My public and private life are in sync. My words and actions also align.I think my authenticity and my voice are what makes me a woman of rubies.

Nigerians & Awareness to Mental health

Nigerians need more awareness and clarity on mental health. A good number of us actually think mental health is only for people with psychological issues.We haven’t fully come to terms with the fact that there is no health without mental health.

Cause of increase in Depression
The word is becoming more complex. Culture is changing. Economy is worsening. The rules of parenting, relationships and success are being redefined. Social media is brewing envy and jealousy.

These complex engagements are ultimately climaxing some emotionally unstable adults into a state of unhappiness, hopelessness, helplessness, self esteem issues, inferiority complex etc. Once all of these states set in and your internal affairs are more disempowering than empowering. You will question your existence. Once you feel you are not good enough, nobody cares about you, the world will be better without you.Suicide becomes attractive. Suicide is however not an option. There are at least five other options you can embrace and we can show you how at Emotions City.