From the racial injustices that continue to pop up in cities around the world to the many that are disproportionately affected by the spread of COVID-19, Black Americans have experienced one of the toughest eye-opening years in a very long time.
We got the chance to chat with Dr. Joseph L. Williams who understands that throughout this pandemic our mental health needs to be at the forefront of our minds. Dr. Williams, a mental health advocate has created a 40-day process called The Journey, which he hopes allows people to achieve the mental and spiritual clarity they desire.
The Journey is a 40-day holistic process that helps encourage spiritual, emotional, and physical transformation. Dr. Williams discovered spiritual and emotional issues were the culprits of his obesity. When he learned how to “emotionally detoxify” as well as “spiritually re-calibrate,” it resulted in his weight loss. Reversing all medications and health ailments, Dr. Williams has taken what he learned and created a 40-day holistic process to share with others across the country, reaching over 3,000 people.
For Black men, what tools can you recommend for maintaining mental, physical, and spiritual wellness during two pandemics?
By understanding, we are part of the mind, body, and spirit. In that I mean, as black men, we MUST be intentional about catering to all three parts of ourselves. We must eat clean foods that are nutritionally dense and rich in vitamins and minerals. We must exercise daily. We need to eliminate stress in our lives by living simplistically and riding ourselves from debt and lifestyles we cannot afford. We must reconnect with men and women who enrich us spiritually while getting out of relationships that are toxic (even if they are marriages). When we tend to ourselves, holistically, we are in a better state of mind to deal with the stresses of the world.
What do you feel we need to appreciate these times?
“War” brings the best out of men. When I say “war” I mean a state of survival whereby it lives or dies. When men are presented with stress, we thrive more than any demographic in the village. For this reason, the men have been the warriors and the protectors of the village. These are the times to find yourself, chase your purpose, and pivot to be the very best version of yourself.
How do you feel your process The Journey will help to impact the future of our community?
The journey reinstates elements we all need to grow but are absent within our society. They are: discipline, guidance, creating healthy relationships with food, community, accountability, and a collective goal. None of the aforementioned items are things popular culture stresses in music or media. We need to grow as a collective unit.
Most of us, including myself have fallen victim to the COVID-19 20-pound gain. How do you think our mental health is responsible for the weight gain?
Most people in the west have bad relationships with food. In that, we are overfed and undernourished. Here in the west, eating is greatly connected to our emotions. When we are stressed we eat; when there are celebrations we eat. No matter where we are on the emotional spectrum we eat. The stress of COVID 19, the closures of gyms, and our inability to connect physically with people cause us to be at a heightened state of mental depression. Eating has been a coping mechanism used by many during this season. The byproduct of that has been, unfortunately, the mitigation of our health and unwanted weight gain.
Where do you feel we can start in order to have our best mental and physical body?
We must start by not liking where we are and what we have become. Until we get to that point we will not change.
What advice for protecting your physical and mental health during these times?
Former Black McDonald's franchise owners filed a federal lawsuit on September 1, demanding economic justice from McDonald's. reality is what you make it. We don’t have to wait for things to change to be “happy.” We can be happy now, but it requires us to view things differently. The gym may be closed, so let’s go outside! I may not be able to take a trip, so I will learn to speak a new language. Maybe my time at home is more than I’d like, I can perhaps learn a new skill. It’s all about our mindset.
"Check on your strong friends" has taken on a whole new meaning this year. What advice would you give for us all when it comes to being accountable for our friends and families well being?
“Be the Change you want to be” Mahatma Gandhi
The best way to stay in contact is to follow his Instagram.