By: Michelle Stafford
As black women, there is a certain amount of “on-ness” that occurs by default. We are “on” guard at work, in social situations, and even at the doctors’ office. Unfortunately, this often leads to the habit of being “on” all of the time. Even when we are at home with our loved ones. We may be doing it, without even realizing it. The lasting effects of being “on” can lead to chronic stress, which leads to high blood pressure, depression, headaches, constipation, depression, poor eating habits, and more. It is critical to our health and wellbeing to be proactive. What are some simple things that we can do in order to achieve optimal wellness?
First and foremost, we need a safe space. This is where we let our guard down so that the healing can begin. Being “on” activates the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight hormones in our bodies. When we are relaxed, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. It is responsible for things such as digestion, sexual arousal, slowing the heart rate, and relaxing the muscles.
A safe space is a place you can go without having to worry about what other people think or do. It could be at a park, gym, yoga class, within a sister circle, or at home.
How to create a safe space within your home or office.
Choose a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. This could be anywhere. If you are a mom, it might just be your bathroom! Your safe space could be an entire room, or a corner within a room. Make sure that it is clean and free from clutter. Get creative! Adorn it with meaningful things that make you feel calm and relaxed. Cushions, sacred text, a journal, candles/soft lighting, soothing artwork, crystals, peaceful music, essential oils, etc.
Using Your Safe Space.
Pick a time when you have about 10 minutes to an hour of “me” time. If your time is limited, use a timer so that you don’t have to keep track. There are a number of mindful self-care practices available: Take slow, soft deep breaths. Practice yoga. Keep a gratitude journal. Give yourself a gentle massage. Color a picture. Meditate.
During times where it is simply impossible to be alone, consider sharing this space with a loved one.
What are the results?
Creating a safe space for yourself and/or your family, is all about intention. It doesn’t have to be extravagant in order to be effective. Having a space that is dedicated to our personal self-care and healing is a way to create a practice that is tangible and present in our minds and bodies. The results are limitless. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce the effects of chronic stress and trauma, pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more. It is like the old adage says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It only takes a few minutes a day, and you are so worth it!