By NYU’s executive director for the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research Dr. Michael Lindsey, Ph.D, MSW, MPH as told to Christopher A. Daniel
The last two years of the pandemic have been trying for all of us, especially Black men.
Among Black people in general, there has been the added stress of our communities being hit harder by COVID-19—both physically and economically—and living through a racial reckoning during which we have been reminded repeatedly that our lives as Black men are not held to be as precious as others.
All of this takes a toll on the physical, spiritual, and of course, mental health. Here are some suggestions for self-care practices to get Black men through a stressful period in 2022:
Commit to an exercise plan: Exercising is not for the purpose of losing pounds, but rather for shedding the emotional burdens that so many of us are carrying. The American Psychological Association says exercise is effective for decreasing depression, and we all know that breaking a sweat can be a good way to relieve stress and boost hormones that make us feel good.
The CDC says you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week—like brisk walking or active yoga—or at least 75 minutes weekly of vigorous intensity exercise, like running or kickboxing. You’ll feel better and also improve your physical health while you’re at it.
Journaling can be a good release in stressful situations: Writing down what you’re going through gets it out of your head, so to speak. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare—you don’t even have to write full sentences—but scribble how you feel about the matter and everything that comes up for you emotionally. I’ve found doing this is extremely powerful in helping to process the situation and devise next steps.
Do some deep breathing for five minutes: Focus on just breathing. Find a comfortable resting position and take deep breaths, in and out. Imagine you are filling up a balloon, and then emptying it. Doing this for only 5 minutes can be incredibly helpful in relieving tension and anxiety. It can help to clear the mind.
Get comfortable with saying “no”: Get comfortable with saying no. When you’re in survival mode, usually at work, you feel like you have to say yes to a lot of things. But when you’re thriving and concentrating all of your energy on you, you’re focusing on a game plan, the end goal, and what you need to get there.