By Dr. Yulanda Tyre
Yessssss! Summer is right around the corner. Longer days, warmer temperatures,
family filled holidays, full of food, fun and laughter are right at your finger-tips. While
most of us will still have to maintain a consistent work schedule the summer does
provide a time for slowing down. School is out, barbeque grills emerge, drives in the
park spark up and social mindsets shift to vacations and relaxation time.
I think that one of the reasons we look forward to summer in our community, despite the sweltering Alabama heat, is the opportunity to mentally and physically slow down. The rush, weights and responsibilities of the year can and does take a toll on every aspect of who we are both individually and collectively. Keeping a watchful eye on our kids, ourselves and those we love, with eyes and ears robotically tuned to the news, politics, economic shifts, tax law changes, natural disasters, police shooting, and discrimination has an oppressive impact on each of us down to our core. The impact occurs whether your aware or even acknowledge it. Oppression surrounds us, seeping in and impacting our emotional and psychological/mental health.
The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reports that:
Despite progress made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the
mental health of Black/African Americans. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of
rejection have decreased, but continue to occur with measurable, adverse
consequences. Historical and contemporary instances of negative treatment have led to a mistrust of authorities, many of whom are not seen as having the best interests of Black/African Americans in mind.
- Adult Black/African Americans are 20 percent more likely to report serious
psychological distress than adult whites.
- Adult Black/African Americans living below poverty are three times more likely to
report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty.
- Adult Black/African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness,
hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites.
- And while Black/African Americans are less likely than white people to die from
suicide as teenagers, Black/African Americans teenagers are more likely to attempt
suicide than are white teenagers (8.3 percent v. 6.2 percent).
Summer time provides an optimal time to mitigate the impact of oppression and move toward an overall healthier lifestyle. At the top of the year, many make resolutions that include considerations of care, however as the business of new year begins, resolutions are abandoned for the familiarity of comfort and old habits. If you fall into this category here are a few things that you can do to enhance your self-care during the summer months that hopefully stick with you and become a part of your daily routine.
Be Intentional-Reignite (one of my favorite things to do), reset and get going! Stop simply talking about your self-care, develop a plan, share it with someone and carry it out. Develop a written plan with clear and achievable goals! A goal without a plan is simply a wish on a shelf waiting to happen. Follow a S.M.A.R.T Goals (specific,
measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive) plan and invite someone to join you!
Start Moving-The longer days of summer present a great opportunity to exercise. A
simple 20-minute daily walk can make a huge impact on your physical, emotional and
spiritual health. Summer also presents an opportunity for a healthier diet due to the
variety of fruits and vegetables available. Start simple cut out one thing or add in one
healthy habit and build on it (i.e. cut out sugary drinks, less fried foods, add in more
water, fruit, vegetable, etc.). Consider squeezing in a few more minutes of sleep. While it may be tempting to stay up later in the summer, engaging in extra rest will allow your body to recover, reset and heal itself naturally. Adequate amounts of sleep is known to increase mood, creativity, and energy! Who among us does not need a little more of that?!?!
Get Connected-Relationships are imperative! Get connected, in healthy social, intimate (yup, it’s good for you), spiritual and intellectual relationships that boost critical thinking, perspectives, creativity and pushes you to accomplish dreams!
While these tips will not immediately put an end to the impact of oppression however
when in consistent and long-term practice, they will provide a place of mental escape,
refreshment and renewal. Each are an important component to developing and
maintaining a lifestyle of strong mental health. There is only ONE you! You are an
important part of the fiber, the story and the legacy of our community! Taking care of
yourself not only benefits you, it provides a model for others, your loved ones and your actions in this area of your life sets a pace and tone for how you choose to live! Live well…live Reignited!
Dr. Yulanda Tyre is Owner of Reignite, Counselor, Coach and Consultation Service
and author of Reignite, a 21 Day Devotional. She is committed to helping others realize,renew and ignite their talents, dreams and goals. She is a licensed counselor, counselor supervisor and holds a PhD in Counselor Education. She has been working as a counselor, counselor educator, author and higher education professional for over 15 years. Questions or comments can be shared with Dr. Tyre at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dr. Tyre on Facebook at Reignite, on Instagram at Reignite-life or at Reignite-life.com.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Mental Health.
(2016). Mental health and African Americans. Retrieved
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