Self Care for Black Girls

 

 

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We get so busy sometimes that we forget to take care of ourselves.   This happens to everyone but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to live your best life.  Sometimes when we hear the word “self-care,” we think of going  away for a weekend getaway or having an entire day of pampering  with massages, facials, and beauty treatments. All these things are amazing but they are also very expensive.   I’ve listed some simple and best of all free ways of pampering yourself and practicing good self care.

It’s  important to remember that self-care also means  taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.   Here  are five free ways you can practice self-care daily or at least a few days a week because you deserve  to take time for yourself.

1. Meditation and yoga.

This doesn’t have to be long; even 10 or 15 minutes will help.  This  will  bring you more calm and inner peace and it also helps you live in the moment and brings your mind, body, and spirit in harmony.

 

2. Exercise.

We all know  there are the physical benefits, but other benefits of working out include improving your mood and reducing stress, promoting better sleep, and making you feel happier.  You can work out at home or take a nice walk.

 

 3. Read

Reading is one of my favorite self-care practices.  I enjoy reading  fiction, inspirational memoirs and autobiographies/biographies. Reading often  reduces stress and puts you in a better mood,  and can improve your focus, and  also can help to develop your creativity.

 

4. Spend some time in nature

 Taking a walk in nature can often  improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being.   Walking  outside can also helps you sleep better and gives you a break from technology.

 

5. Do something that makes you laugh and brings you joy.

In the middle  of our  busy day, it’s  easy to forget to make time for things that make us happy.  Think about  what brings you joy, then make time to do at least one of those things daily.

Sometimes  the best way to make daily self-care a habit is to schedule it. When you’re planning your day or week, write down the activity — or activities — you’ll do;  writing them down will make you more likely to follow thru with them.  Remember to always make time for you.

 


Say No to Respectability Politics

 

 

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As a Black woman,  it has been implied  to me that because I “spoke so well” and “behaved myself”, I wouldn’t have it as bad as other Black people who “didn’t” however  despite all of that, I  have faced  microaggressions and been called the n word as I walked down the street on my way to lunch.  As a woman, I was told to not dress in certain ways so men wouldn’t harass me however I have been cat called on the street even when I was 9 months pregnant.

Respectability politics is a term coined by author and professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham in her 1993 book Righteous Discontent The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920. While the term is relatively new, the concept is old.  It is telling an oppressed group that in order to receive better treatment from the group in power, they must behave better.

 The practice of respectability politics is a problem because it shifts blame and responsibility from the oppressive group to the oppressed.  Respectability politics tells us that the oppressed group must police themselves in order to stop being harmed.  This is of course not true because no matter how you carry yourself there is a chance that someone will exhibit racist, sexist or negative  behavior towards you. I’m a Black woman who probably would be defined as respectable however I have experienced racism and sexism no matter what I’m wearing or how I’m speaking. Dressing a certain way or speaking a certain way won’t save you so just be yourself.

To Be a Black Woman with Anxiety

 

 

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Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for women to seek therapy.  For Black women, anxiety is  often more chronic and the symptoms more intense than white women.

To understand anxiety and Black women,  you need to understand how Black women are viewed.    There are three basic images which we see of Black women, the Strong Black Womanthe Angry Black Woman, and the Overly Sexual Black woman.. These images affect how other people see Black women and how we see ourselves. They also play a role in the development of anxiety.

Strong Black Women -There are some  positive aspects about being a Strong Black Woman, but there are  also many negatives.   A Strong Black Woman  will keep going even when she knows she should stop, this places her mental and physical health at risk.

An Angry Black Woman  is perceived as a woman who is always ready to  “cuss” you out. I have found that many women who are perceived this way are actually very anxious.  The anger is often an outward expression of their discomfort with the negativity associated with anxiety.

The Overly Sexual Black Woman  used to be referred to as a Jezebel, which comes from the Biblical Queen who  was said to have turned her husband against God.  Since slavery, Black women have been sexualized in derogatory ways  Today  this is often seen  in rap and hip-hop videos.

Social Anxiety 

In workplaces, college and professional  settings around the country, Black women often find themselves to be  the only one.   In these situations, we  have  often been taught that we have to be twice as good, that we are representing the race and that we are being watched more closely than our white counterparts.  These beliefs along with the Strong Black Woman image often increases the risk for social anxiety.

PTSD

The rate of sexual assault among Black women is  reported to be 3.5 times higher than that of any other group in this country. Black women are also less likely to report their assault. Many never share with anyone what has happened to them. The trauma  will remain untreated and the symptoms  will worsen.

Racism is another   form of trauma that  affects Black women.  Trauma in the form of racism can be directly or indirectly experienced. Driving while Black, shopping while Black, and racial micoraggressions are direct examples of racial trauma.  Indirect examples are videos of unarmed Black women and men being killed.

Thankfully, the stigma associated with seeking help for anxiety  and other mental health issues is disappearing.  Remember that with the help of a good therapist you can reclaim your life from anxiety.  I was able to reclaim my life and so can you.

 

Loving Yourself as a Black Woman

 

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

 

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Black women we are often portrayed as being unworthy of love.  This is a message we get in media and also larger society.  It’s difficult to not internalize the words of others and believe that you are worthy of love like everyone else.  I’ve struggled with my self esteem and have felt that I wasn’t as pretty or smart as other people however I was lucky to be praised often in my home and that protected me from a larger society where I was always led to think I wouldn’t be the one who was chosen and considered beautiful. When a woman turns on the television or opens a magazine and does not see herself represented or only represented in a negative way, it can leave her feeling like she isn’t beautiful, or maybe she just isn’t worth loving.

A first step to achieving self-love is to acknowledge and list all of the things you love about yourself.  We often spend so much time being critical of ourselves that we forget that there are things that we love about ourselves.  It can be helpful to write a list of things that you love about yourself, and create a list of all of the Black women in your life that inspire you.

Another step is to educate yourself on the Black women who inspire you and/or have changed the course of history.  Remember there are some amazing Black women who have been trailblazers in history. Another step  s is to create goals for yourself and work on achieving those goals.   Remember you deserve success just as much as anyone else.

 

Finally  it is important to find a space, and create platforms dedicated to you.  This is why it’s important to have spaces dedicated to the upliftment of Black women.   Remember we’re our sister’s keeper.

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Light Skin, Dark Skin- Colorism in the Black Community

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“You’re really pretty for a dark girl”, this is something I’ve heard many times in my life. Growing up as a dark skin girl can be difficult, as a child other children often made fun of my color.  I was lucky that at home my mother always told me I was beautiful and I never felt I was less beautiful than lighter skinned girls.   Although I’ve never wanted to be another complexion, I know that many other women with dark skin often struggle with wanting to be lighter because being lighter is often praised in the Black community.

The idea that the lighter you are the better often begins when a child is an infant.  Many older Black people will try to determine how dark a child will be by looking behind the ears because that color is said to be the color the baby will grow into as she gets older.  The idea that if you’re lighter with straight hair and smaller facial features,  you’re better is also depicted in the media.  Lighter skinned Black women are usually portrayed  as being soft and feminine and darker women are often portrayed as being unattractive and masculine.  It’s an interesting fact that lighter skinned women are  often praised however  darker skinned men tend to be more desired in the Black community.

Some darker women will bleach their skin in order to be lighter, this is  of course a very dangerous practice and can cause serious damage to your body.  The idea that if you’re lighter your life will be better and happier is something we as a community need to stop believing and begin to love ourselves no matter your complexion.  Remember that your skin color does not determine your worth and you deserve love and kindness whether you’re dark, light or any shade in between.  All shades of brown and black are beautiful.

The Story of Transforming Lives Counseling Service

 

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I have been asked many times what made me decide to start my practice and in particular why my practice is centered around providing psychotherapy to women and adolescents of color in particular Black women and girls.   This post will tell you a little about me and what led me down this path.

I’ve been a therapist for 24 years and I’ve worked in various capacities and several agencies as well as at an inpatient psychiatric hospital.    During this time I’ve worked with many different populations and have also been a speaker at different organizations and written articles about therapy with Afro Caribbean families and women.

Working at agencies is very stressful and although I loved my clients I knew I couldn’t be there forever. I had always wanted a private practice but due to several circumstances I didn’t begin the process until 2016.   After my last position as a clinical supervisor at an outpatient substance  abuse clinic in New York City, I decided that it was time to start my practice.  I’ve always been passionate about helping women of color especially Black women who often feel ashamed to seek mental health treatment.   I started Transforming Lives Counseling Service in July 2016, first it was only online and then as I grew I decided to open an office in addition to seeing people online via video.  My practice has grown so much since this time and I’ve expanded and have a wonderful therapist, Jennifer Dorsey, MHC-LP working with me.

People have also asked if it’s discriminatory that my practice focuses on the mental health needs of women and girls of color in particular Black women and girls.  Psychotherapy is often viewed as a luxury for wealthy white people and I wanted to bring culturally competent care to Black women and girls who often don’t get to see people who look like them as therapists.   All my clients are not women and girls of color.  I will work with anyone who feels they need to begin therapy to learn how to live a fulfilling life however my primary goal and focus will always be helping Black women and girls.  If you want to learn more, take a look at my website, Transforming Lives Online.org  .

Be well

Racquel P. Jones, LCSW

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Microaggressions at Work

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Being a Black woman at work often means dealing with microaggressions from other co workers.  This is a list of  common ones and how to deal with them.

1- When White people think you’re the help-  This happens often because people often don’t  except Black women to be in corporate or professional positions.  While we should never believe we’re above people in service positions always be assertive in telling people who you are when they assume you’re the waiter, waitress or bus person..

2-When your presence disturbs them-  For some reason many people are afraid of Black women especially if we raise our voice or seem assertive.  Don’t make yourself smaller to please anyone, always stand tall and speak your truth.

3-When your hair seems to be the talk of the office-  Why do they always want to touch our hair?  If you’re not comfortable with anyone touching your hair say please don’t touch my hair, I’ve done this before, they will get the message.

4-Your voice is heard but not acknowledged-  You say something then your White co worker says the same thing and somehow they’re acknowledged.  This is extremely frustrating.  Speak up and make your voice heard.

5- When you’re stereotyped-  Have you ever had a White woman co worker run to management crying because you corrected her?  I had this happen with an intern I was supervising and I was told to be nicer to her.  The tears can be annoying but remember they often cry because they don’t want to stand up to you and are afraid of your greatness.

It gets frustrating dealing with this stuff but no matter what remember you’re fabulous.