How you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, affect your relationships and your overall mental health. How you react to your experiences and feelings can also change as situational factors and circumstances evolve. Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. As a Black man and a mental health clinician, I see how Black men are at a disadvantage and I wanted to provide some accessible ways you can improve your mental health and emotional well-being. Everyone feels anxious and stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it’s needed most. But if stress becomes pervasive (a condition known as chronic stress) those “high-alert” changes become harmful rather than helpful.
Learning healthy ways to cope with stress can also boost your resilience. This can be a great kickstart to your lifelong goals toward a healthy mind, body and soul. At Therapy For You, it is our goal to encourage positive mental health and well-being as we highlight the important benefits of counseling and therapy for Black men.
According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health:
Adult Black/African Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites.
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 adult whites.
And while Black/African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide as teenagers, Black/African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers (8.3% v. 6.2%).
Here are nine ways to help improve your mental health and emotional well-being:
Value Yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-defeating thoughts.
Take Care of Your Body: Pay attention to what your body needs (exercise, diet, nutrition, rest).
Surround yourself with people who contribute positively to your life.
Be patient with yourself, every day won’t be your best day.
Develop healthy strategies for coping with stress, disappointment and changes.
Learn new ways of self-maintenance and practice self-care as a routine.
Set Realistic goals: If your goals are unrealistic, you can never meet your expectations.
Break Unhealthy Cycles and/or Patterns: Just because it’s how it’s always been doesn’t mean it has to continue being that way.
Find Someone to Talk to About Your Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors: Once you are able to have objective feedback, you can begin the process towards change.
Photo Credit: Anthony Lyons
How to Find the Right Therapist For You
Therapy works best when the client is able to connect with the therapist and form a healthy therapeutic alliance. Once you’ve acknowledged that therapy can be helpful for you, then it’s time to find the right therapist.
Ask about their specific experience
Ask about their clinical philosophy
Identify a connection with him/her
Ensure you are comfortable and able to ask questions about the process
Representation matters – do you feel that he/she understands you and your concerns?
About the author:
Machel Hunt is a clinical therapist based in Atlanta. He specializes in Relationship Counseling and Psychosexual Therapy for individuals and couples.
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