There was a time when the idea of wellness wasn’t even on the radar for most Black women, let alone seen as the shiny new object to integrate into our daily lives. Why should we find the time and energy to drag ourselves out of bed for a 6a.m. yoga class? Why in the world should we feed our families organic food when we grew up on processed food? Why is sitting still for 10 to 20 minutes each day to embrace some sort of spiritual practice the best way to find peace? Because life, sisters. Life!
While rushing to yoga class, eating organic and meditating may not be your thing, it is essential to find — and commit to — a wellness practice that will center you in this increasingly maddening world. Wellness is not a game and we can’t ignore the truth: a healthy lifestyle that incorporates mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing helps us cultivate a life of greater meaning, connection, fulfillment and purpose.
As a wellness enthusiast, who has seen proven results and rewards in my own life, I want to help you find simple ways to restart your own wellness journey.
Here are a few of my favorite wellness practices that you can begin today, and begin seeing results just as fast.
Practice peace-finding exercises: When I feel myself ready to explode after reading a caustic email or having a frustrating conversation with a family member or a negative encounter with a complete stranger, I have one of these exercises on deck to quickly get me to a place of peace:
• Say an affirmation — Close your eyes and repeat a few positive words that will provide a sense of calm that can shift a negative moment to a more peaceful one in a matter of minutes. In every moment, peace is a choice; I love myself unconditionally; or I feel grateful for _________ (fill in the blank) are three examples that can help you keep your heart open and your mind calm—no matter what life brings.
• Breathe — Find a quiet place or head outside from some fresh air and give yourself permission to simply breathe. Fill your lungs with air for a count of four, hold it for two and release the breath for four. Do this five or more times and your heartbeat will slow and you’ll be in a better position to respond (or not) to a difficult situation, letting go of judgment.
• Create warmth and loving kindness — Rub your hands together slowly for 15 seconds. Close your eyes, place your hands at your heart center and show yourself some loving kindness. You’ll be lulled into a peaceful state that will change the circumstances around you. Works every time.
Try a healthy meal delivery service: A couple of years ago, I found myself craving meals and ordering desserts that I knew would throw my digestion off balance and cause weight gain. Ice cream? Yes, please. Pizza with extra cheese? The more the better. I wanted to enjoy delicious food, but I had to learn to indulge in moderation. I created nutritional balance as a part of my wellness practice by investing in a healthy meal delivery service two to three days per week. Companies like Blue Apron, Chef’d and Hello Fresh are having a major moment offering organic, convenient, delicious meal kits. In about 30 minutes or less, you can prepare satisfying dishes that work with your taste profile and dietary restrictions. Or if you have no time to cook, try Sakara Life, the organic meal delivery program based on a whole-food, plant-rich diet that includes fresh, nutrient-dense, delicious ingredients.
Move your body: I realized that I can look good all day long. The real question is: do I feel good from within, am I making my health and wellness a priority? I set out to answer this question for myself and began encouraging other women to do the same. From this self-assessment, I learned that if I don’t do some form of exercise at least a few times per week, I don’t feel good and I begin to make questionable choices related to nutrition.
Even if you’re up getting off the couch for the 100th time to begin again, here are a few easy ways to jumpstart a consistent wellness workout routine. It all begins with an investment in you:
• Turn Kendrick Lamar or Cardi B up in your headphones while you run outside or on the treadmill three to four days per week.
• Find an accountability partner and check out different boxing, yoga, spin or cardio classes in your city.
• If you’re going on a trip with your girls, plan fun group workout sessions during your getaway like a hot yoga class or a 30-minute sunrise walk on the beach.
• Join a fitness group that fits your schedule and interests like GirlTrek, the national health movement that activates thousands of Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities — through walking. GirlTrek is on a mission to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among Black women — and build communities in the process.