My fellow Persons of Color, it’s time for us to stop separating God from counseling and mental health services. If you believe that attending a religious service can heal you through listening to a Religious Leader (Priest, Preacher, Imam, Rabbi, etc). deliver God’s healing message, why is it so hard to believe that God works through a therapist too? Therapist are healers in a different form. We therapist may not have a holy book sitting out next to us during a therapy session but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t working through us.
There are so many of us therapist who strive to embody the principles of the Prophets; love, compassion, understanding, helping people forgive those who have wronged them AND helping people forgive themselves for the wrong that they’ve done to others. So many of us Persons of Color have experienced and continue to experience daily injustices that we can get help to deal with and heal from. Prayer with action is powerful and unstoppable.
The next time some says to you “pray about it”, PLEASE encourage them to pray about and allow God to help them to heal by using two of God’s instruments, a Religious Leader AND a Psychotherapist.
Peace and Blessings,
How do you know that you are experiencing stress? Do you feel like your heart is racing? Like you can’t concentrate? Does a loved one or friend usually point it out to you by asking you if you are stressed out? Or do you have the urge to run away from whatever is bothering you? These are all signs that you may be stressed out. Sometimes we can tell when we are feeling stressed out and other times we don’t know it.
Luckily for all of us, there are many signs that can help us to know when we are stressed out. Most of us know that headaches or difficulty sleeping can be a sign of stress but did you know that low energy (including not wanting to have sex) or even low self-esteem can be a sign of stress? Below is a list of common symptoms of stress:
Difficulty concentrating and/or forgetfulness
Headaches, tension headaches
Stomach issues such nausea, diarrhea, constipation or loss of appetite
Exhaustion or low energy
Difficulty falling or staying sleeping
Loss of sex drive
Sweating when the temperature indoors or outside is not warm or hot
Avoiding situations or making decisions
Negative thoughts about yourself, low self-esteem
It is a long list and you may not experience all of the signs or symptoms. Take a few seconds to reflect on a recent situation when you experienced any of the symptoms on the list. What were you doing (commuting, paying bills, meeting a deadline for work)? Did you realize at the time that you were stressed out? It’s often helpful to take a couple of seconds throughout the day to reflect on what you are experiencing. For example, taking a couple of seconds during a meeting to notice if you are clinching your jaw can make you aware of your level of stress. Once you have the awareness and knowledge that you are experiencing stress, you can take action to reduce stress. There are many simple activities that you can do that will make you feel better. For example, you can take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, listen to calming music or take a bath.
Life can be stressful but you have the power and ability to deal with stress by paying attention to the signs that you are stressed out and taking action to reduce it.
It can be hard to not be stressed out in today's world given all our responsibilities. Did you know that stress can impact your physical health? People who live stressful lives tend to be more vulnerable to headaches, backaches and heart disease. How often you get sick or experience unpleasant physical symptoms can be a sign of how stressed out you’ve been. Don’t lose hope if you’ve had your fair share of stress and physical discomfort over the past few months. There are some simple steps you can take today to reduce stress.
Participating in activities we enjoy can reduce stress and make us happier. Let’s do a quick activity. Take a few seconds to think about the activities you like to do when you’re not at work or when you have free time. These activities will be your guide to living a less stressed and happier life. Take a couple of seconds to write down or make a list in your smartphone, the activities so that you can look at them and choose one to do when you feel stressed out. Pick one activity from your list that you can do right now even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. You’ll want to make a commitment to yourself to do something every week even if it’s only for a few minutes. As you get in the habit of doing one of your activities each week, you may choose to devote more time each week to completing activities that reduce your stress. Here’s a helpful tip: place your list somewhere you can see it or use the calendar on your smartphone to schedule time each week to complete a stress reducing activity. Keeping your list visible or having it scheduled into your phone will help remind you to take action every week. Life can be stressful but you have the power to choose to do something every week that will make you feel better and less stressed.
Dealing with anxiety can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. Did you know that approximately 18% of the population has experienced some form of anxiety? Experiencing anxiety and not knowing what to do about it can cause you to feel more anxious. What you may not realize is that anxiety is your body’s way of trying to get your attention. It’s a human safety feature that was adapted over centuries to help people survive. So when you stop and think about it in that way, we all should be grateful that our ancestors responded appropriately when they felt anxious encountering a life-threatening or dangerous situation. You may be saying to yourself, I don’t have to worry about situations that my ancestors faced, like say fighting off a bear, so why do I have to deal with anxiety? Again, it is your body’s way of trying to protect you. Fortunately, there are ways to signal to the body that you’re not in any life-threatening danger. Mindfulness activities, meditation and yoga are a couple of ways to train your body to relax when you feel anxious. Mindfulness activities help you to practice feeling without reacting by focusing on your attention on something, like your breathing. Speaking of breathing, did you know that we take approximately 16 breaths per minute, per day and that your breathing changes when you are feeling anxious? Breathing tends to be faster and shallow when you’re feeling anxious. Unfortunately, the faster you breath the less air makes it to your lungs and your heartbeat may speed up resulting in more anxiety. Taking deep breaths is a must when you feel your anxiety rising or spiking. Taking deep breaths signals to your body that it’s okay to calm down because you’re not in any life-threatening danger.
Let’s do a quick exercise. Count to 5 while taking a deep breath in. Then count to 5 while exhaling. Repeat these to steps a couple of times. Doesn’t that feel nice? Your lungs were able to take in more air and your heart rate slowed down resulting in you feeling more relaxed.
Remember, the more air you take in through deep breaths, the more relaxed and less anxious you will feel.
Christina is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Oakland California.