The data is clear: Black women are more likely than their white counterparts “to report feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or that everything is an effort all of the time.” According to an article published in the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity, “Lower income levels and educational attainment and exposure to such life-event stressors as trauma, violence, and racial discrimination place African American women at particularly high risk for depression and psychological distress.”
Gymnast superstar Simone Biles showed us the importance of focusing on your own mental health. After taking a step back from the sport during the Tokyo Olympics, she has returned, better than ever. But you don’t need to go through gymnastics to turn your mental health around.
Harvard University Fellow Talia Fox told ESSENCE she has always wanted to use her counseling psychology degree “to do something that was going to impact her community.” As a Black woman, Fox understands firsthand, how we are oftentimes responsible for holding the reins and taking care of business.
ESSENCE sat down with Fox this World Mental Health Month to discuss her new book and how Black women can prioritize our mental health and wellbeing. In “The Power of Conscious Connection: Four Habits to Transform How You Live and How You Lead,” Fox shares her LOVE framework- listening, observing, aligning with your values, and engaging- and how to embrace your mental wellbeing.
Here are Fox’s 4 ways to be more intentional about your wellbeing during World Mental Health Month.
“Turn listening into a gift that you give and use it as an opportunity to actually meditate and be quiet,” says Fox. “What usually tends to happen is that because we are surrounded by so much information, we judge and evaluate that information instead of actively listening. And as we’re judging and evaluating that information, we actually have this fight or flight response that causes chronic stress and chronic anxiety.”
Fox shared how “observing isn’t just looking at what’s in front of you. It’s actually making connections between what’s going on in your life,” adding “for example, you might see a connection between how well you sleep at night and how agitated you are the next day or you might see a connection between what you eat and how you respond to the relationships in your life.” Fox continued, “so you’re in this mode where you’re open to the results of the choices that you’re making, and the impact of the choices that you’re making.”
Aligning with your Values
“From there, you have this great date data about your values,” Fox said. “Now you can begin to be discerning about the kinds of experiences you’re going to engage more fully in. That’s going to help your mental health because you’re not allowing the world to have its way with you. You’re beginning to say ‘this is what’s important to me and so I am going to drive my life in the direction of the things that are important to me,’” Fox revealed.
Fox discussed how this is of particular importance for Black women, adding that engagement is all about strategic communication, and sometimes that can be through silence. “We are in a world where some of us are in our fight or flight mode all of the time. It’s constant anxiety, and we’re speaking out for everything and everyone. What is the consequence of that passion?” Fox wants Black women “to use our passion, but be strategic about what you talk about and how you talk about it, so we can have that balance with our mental health.”