Anxiety

3 Simple Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Routine

When thinking about mindfulness and meditation, people generally imagine themselves sitting cross-legged on a floor, eyes shut and “omm”ing until their thoughts come to a screeching halt. This is an extremely common misconception, but the good news is that you don’t have to hold onto it for long!  By definition, meditation is an umbrella term that encompasses ultimate concentration and consciousness by self-regulating the mind; mindfulness is a form of meditation where the act is focusing on being fully present. Meditating can even be done through everyday acts such as listening to music, doing yoga, or journaling. Keep in mind that the goal of meditation is not to “turn off” the mind; rather, the goal is to acknowledge thoughts and feelings that arise without getting stuck in them. Below are three simple ways to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your routine:

Engage in a 3-minute journal exercise.
Keeping a journal allows you to track patterns and growth over time. Set a timer and spend three full minutes free-writing and recording every thought that you’re able to catch, doing your best not to control your thoughts. Maybe you’ll notice a pattern or a specific theme that arose. Multiply the number of thoughts that you recorded by twenty –  this is about how many thoughts you have in an hour, and it shows how quickly our minds operate without us being aware. I recommend engaging in this activity almost every morning or evening before bed; it may give you insight into how you’re truly feeling and what you’re truly thinking before the day starts, or how your day impacted you when it’s finished.

Make a Sponge list.
I am subscribed to Shine, a self-care app that sends me a research-backed mindfulness tip every weekday for struggles like stress, anxiety, time management, and more. One of the tips Shine sent me this past summer was creating a Sponge list. Good vibes and energy come from two places: what we do and what we soak in. When we solely focus on what we want to “do” in a given week, we forget what we can “take” from a week too. I begin each week by either writing down these three questions or making a mental checklist: What do I want to feel? What do I want to learn? What do I want to unlearn? This helps me start my week with an intention that I aim to align myself with.

Practice mindful eating.
Eating is one of the ultimate self-care practices because it’s necessary for our survival, energy, and peak levels of functioning. Our current society leaves little room to enjoy meals and actually taste the ingredients and time that went into them, especially during the week when schedules tend to be busier. Our current society also leaves little room to notice effects that food has on our feelings, figures, and hunger triggers (it takes the brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full) . Engaging in mindful eating can be helpful in understanding physical cues and cravings when eating. If we all we engaged in mindful eating more regularly (cue a “slow dowwwwn” echo), our brains and bodies would most certainly thank us later.


Juliana R. Collins is a licensed social worker practicing in Philadelphia, and received her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Juliana works as a substance abuse therapist for an intensive outpatient program at Center City Recovery LLC. Juliana is skilled in DBT practices and sexual assault counseling. To contact Juliana, email her at jcollins@centercityrecovery.com

Dear graduate, what’s next?

Graduation season came and went; a season marked by major transition, lot’s of excitement, and definite celebration. Let’s say you’re the one that graduated. You spent years working toward a goal. The time came. Now it’s gone. While you should absolutely be enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’re not without some growing pains. While this time is marked by lots of celebration, you could be feeling apprehensive, confused, and even depressed.

RELATED: REAL TALK: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

At least a few emotions indicate the entrance into a new phase of life whether you, specifically, are graduating or simply experiencing a separate major milestone (a wedding, birth of a child, new job etc.) This season is characterized by life changes and it’s crucial to equip yourself with the proper tools to manage the emotional shift. Here are at least 8 things you should look out for and implement during the summertime transition that could greatly impact your life post-graduation and set you up for success:
Breathe.

  1. So first, there’s a natural coming down of adrenalin that happens when you finish big projects. You’ve spent so much time working on this thing that, at times, felt like would never end and now it’s done. Then there are ceremonies, parties, dinners and it is pretty nonstop for a while. You’ll probably have a wave of emotions related to saying goodbye to friends who have become a large part of your life. And then, abruptly, it’s all over.  You’ll suddenly have a bunch of time on your hands and may even feel like you don’t know what to do with yourself. Before you try to fill the space with unnecessary noise – breathe. Feeling bored or like you’re not doing enough is not uncommon and you don’t need to beat yourself up over feeling down, even though everyone else feels like you should be on top of the world.  If you feel like a sobbing mess allow yourself to feel those authentic feelings. If you’re confused about what’s going to happen next, call a friend, go to dinner, process your thoughts with someone who cares about you. Know you’re not the only one feeling this way and that the feeling will likely pass as you get a little distance from all the celebrations.

RELATED: STAY WOKE. BUT GET SOME SLEEP!

Manage expectations

  1. You may have some concerns related to not finding the dream job right away. It’s important to remember most people don’t retire from the job they started straight after undergrad. Beginning one job now does not mean you’ll never have your dream job, or you’ll be there forever. It’s more important to interrogate what makes something a dream job. Can you find some of these same qualities in another job, internship or volunteer project? Could these opportunities potentially open more doors for you to land the dream job?

Give up on the comparison game

  1. You might be comparing yourself to others, whether it be on social media or live and in action. People all around you are embarking on new adventures and it’s easy to consider someone else’s grass, #goals. In reality however, most of our social media feeds show the highlight reel and not the full story. Try to manage your tendency to want to create a better story around someone’s picture than their actual reality. Like the pic and move on. It might also help to do some journaling if you notice your mood being impacted by what you see on social media. What comes up for you as you see pictures of others moving into their new fancy apartments or taking great vacations? This could give you a good place to start to do some digging about changes you might need to make to feel better about what’s going on in your life.

RELATED: THE BLACK GIRL’S GUIDE TO SELF-CARE

Get real about your finances

  1. You might be worried about having to pay back loans. Unfortunately, Sallie Mae (or whoever your lender is) may start calling and emailing shortly after your degree is conferred. Try not to get into default in paying back your loans. Instead, look into deferment or forbearance options that might give you a little more time to start paying back.

Exercise discipline.

  1. It’s easier said than done. You might feel caught off guard about the lack of structure and stability that school provided. For about 17 or 18 years now, there has been a certain rhythm to your life. Go to class, do your homework, eat some lunch, hang out with friends, repeat. And, even though your college years gave you a bit more freedom, now that you’re done. Your schedule really will require you to be disciplined and accountable. There won’t be any loss of points for coming in late or a grace period because you ran out of time. It’s now incumbent on you to figure out what’s important to you and map out your days accordingly.

 

Do you have an idea or tip you want to share with the us about making a major transition (new school, new job, etc.) make sure to share it in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #tbginsession.

Black Women and the Complicated Relationship with Psychiatric Medications

Black Women Psych Meds

Dr. Julie Holland, a New York psychiatrist, recently penned an article for The New York Times entitled “Medicating Women’s Feelings“. In it she discusses her feelings about the abundance of psychiatric medicines that appear to be prescribed for women to medicate what are perfectly normal emotions and responses to situations. She describes a situation where one of her clients called her to ask for an increase in the dosage of her antidepressant medication. When the client was asked about her reasons for wanting an increase, she detailed a situation where her boss had openly humiliated her at work which led to her being in tears in the office. Dr. Holland suggested, and I agree, that more medication was not the answer in this case but having a conversation about this event with her boss was likely a much better solution. While reading the article, I found myself agreeing with many of the points made.  Similar to Dr. Holland, I believe that there is a tendency in our society  to overmedicate and undervalue the importance of paying attention to more organic ways of improving our mental health (i.e. developing healthier coping strategies, learning to be more assertive, setting healthy boundaries, etc). I also agree that women are often unduly penalized for having more emotional expressions and that instead of focusing on how we can squelch these emotions, we should be focused on teaching everyone how to pay attention to emotions and what they may signal about our life and our mental health. However, I also found myself thinking that for many of my clients, 95% of whom are Black women, the concerns presented in this article would never be an issue, because so many of them are reluctant to try psychiatric medications, even when they seem warranted. (more…)