This time last year state governments began enforcing lockdowns, mask mandates and school closures due to the global pandemic. Back then, many of us would not have predicted that the nation would still be in the same predicament one year later. As a result of this prolonged crisis, people have been suffering from COVID-19 fatigue and mental illness. They want nothing more than to return to some sort of normalcy, even though life probably won’t change dramatically for a long time. 

ESSENCE spoke with social justice advocate and strategist Angela Rye and noted herbalist Queen Afua, author of “Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit,” about some of the best ways to improve mental health in the Black community during the pandemic.

What advice would you give to someone dealing with job loss during the pandemic?  

QUEEN AFUA: I am, I can and I will and I am drawing and I’m manifesting. I lost that job but I didn’t lose my life and I can recreate a new life, a new work and new prosperity. 

ANGELA RYE: Queen Afua has been a wellness coach from the first conversation I had with her. We often talk about midwives in our community when we consider what people need in order to give birth. But we don’t always talk about manifesting vision, making sure you aren’t carrying baggage with you from your own trauma or ancestral trauma, and she really has been such a light.  

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Responsibilities have increased for parents and others since the start of the pandemic, which makes it hard for people to prioritize self-care. Why is self-care so crucial?

AFUA: They say the violence has risen in our community and family since the pandemic because people are so stressed out. They’re on top of each other, next to each other all of the time, if you had two sick people not well, not at their best, when they interact constantly there’s going to be more strife, there will be more challenges. It’s called life or death that we must take care of ourselves. Otherwise our families are going to be most challenged. It’s something that is going to keep us sane. We have to feed our brain. Our emotions are snapping. So, when you take the green juice, it’ll battle your emotions. When you take your cucumbers, it’ll heal your kidneys, it’s going to take you out of stress by doing that. So, you’ll be able to have more impact with your family because you’re required now to do more for your family. Our home is our wellness center. 

RYE: The thing I love about Queen’s book, Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit, is it really is a guide and a reference manual for you to continue to go back and reference. If you fall down, you can get back up.  

What can someone do right now to help them develop a healthier state of mind?  

AFUA: Journal, get your book, get your pen, light a candle, do your prayers, have a cup of tea, maybe, and then ask your Creator for help. You need help, you need support, you need love, you need prosperity, you need to find another way, you need work that can support you, but you love and then listen. 


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