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Mental Health Days

Jalyn Harden

I grew up in a household where I watched my mother reserve our home as place of peace. I watched her prioritize her mental well-being + sense of tranquility as best she could. I'd take heed as she persevered, through her own trials + throughout times of increased stress. There were plenty days throughout the year my mother would send me off to school, however, she called out “sick,” though I’d see nothing was physically wrong with her. It was often that she would strategically take a day or two off from work explicitly stating when I arrived home, "I took a mental health day." As a kid, I thought my mom was lucky when she could pick + choose when she’d go to work. I now laugh aloud, knowing how unlucky adulthood can be.

As I begin to build my own foundations, I thank my mother for providing these examples of taking her mental health as serious + necessary as her physical health. I’ve learned to listen to my body - now more than ever as a twentysomething always on the go. My body makes me aware of how much I can physically and mentally can commit to. Days free from external stress, an overwhelming workload, and most responsibilities - for me, is an ideal day of relaxation. My most recent mental health day was intentionally filled with activities that I made me feel good - got on my mat for some yoga outdoors; took myself to a matinee to see Girls' Trip; + read a book while I treated myself to a pedi. I’ve had days where I've done nothing at all besides nourish my body + rest; and there’s been days I’ve spent getting my life together + handling business. At the end of the day, however, the point is that you feel capable to take on the rest of your week.

It’s important for you to make you a priority. Just as you would call out sick for physical ailments, its' appropriate to have remedies + coping skills for the fog in your mental. You are the expert on what your body and mind needs in order to persevere. I encourage speaking with your employer (+/or professors) + not waiting until the last minute. Understand that you don't have to disclose your personal issues, but through experience - I find that being up front about what I can + cannot handle, keeps me employed + sane. Speaking with your higher ups also can break the stigma regarding employees' mental health and work productivity. It may become a topic on their agenda to begin to take preventative measures in the office. 

We all know, you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, plan ahead by having some self-care activities planned for your day off. Usually this happens over time, but it also depends your line of work and what issues you’re dealing with. If you can’t plan to take the day off, listen to your body + take the necessary steps to refresh + recharge.

Until next time, 


How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Simone Reynolds

A year ago, I was so in love. You could not tell me that I was not marrying this person. Individually, we were great people, but together we were a hot mess. Both of our actions led to heartbreak. This was not the first time my heart had been broken, but it put the icing on the cake. It unleashed skeletons that I did not even know existed. There is always a purpose behind your suffering. A couple of days ago, a friend asked on Facebook, “How do you overcome heartbreak?” This was my response.

1. Vocalizing your heartbreak is very important. Keeping it to yourself will only cause more heartbreak. Talk to somebody!

2. Let the healing process be authentic. Sometimes, we see other people go through heartbreaking experiences and think that their coping mechanisms will work for us. I can be extremely introverted at times, so I don't always talk to others, but there are other ways to get free.

3. Find something that you can commit to. Mine was going to the gym on weekends and writing short stories. It will give you something to look forward to. You will not immediately forget about the situation(s), but it will make the time go by a little faster.

4. Allow yourself to feel the pain. We always try to get over it so soon. You cannot heal if you have not been hurt.The wounds are there, so try your best not to slap a band-aid on it. Let the sore breathe.

The video attached is a moment I captured at a butterfly exhibit. They were released as if they were supposed to be boxed in, but that is another story. These butterflies had never flown before. I'm sure at one point, they didn't think/know that they were even gonna become butterflies, but they realized that they had wings, and they put them to use. This is the process of overcoming heartbreak. A rebirth of you and your heart will take place.

Oh, I forgot one thing. Patience. You may heal in 5 weeks, while another person might recover in 5 years. It all depends on the heart. I hope this helps.

Reclaiming My Time

Bryan Patterson

On July 27th, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters made headlines as a result of her exchange with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The timed conversation between Waters and Mnuchin consisted of her asking him about the possibility of Donald Trump’s having financial ties to Russian banks. In an attempt to have a productive dialogue, Waters soon realized that her time was not being valued She took ownership of the conversation with the phrase, ‘reclaiming my time’ and reminded Mnuchin of her intention of the conversation.   

Congresswoman Waters set an example for all of us to follow. Time is our most valuable commodity, and it’s something that we can never get back. Effective time management is a critical component of self-care. Our intentions have to be well outlined and we must not lose sight of our goals. If we do, we either hit roadblocks that leave us trapped in stagnation or we deviate from our predestined path. Here are five simple adjustments that I’m making to reclaim my time and reaffirm my intentions.

1. Get 6-8 hours of sleep

I never noticed how important getting my rest was. At my last physical, my doctor asked me about how much sleep I was getting per night. I had recently subscribed to a ‘No Days Off’ mentality that convinced me to believe that I could properly function off of 3-4 hours of sleep per weeknight and 9 or 10 hours on the weekend. He then let me know about the negative mental and physical effects that the previously stated schedule would soon cause if I kept it up. 6 hours of sleep should be the bare minimum and 8 hours per night would be ideal. I got 7 hours of sleep last night and I was surprised by how productive I am currently without needing a large cup of coffee.

2. Social Media Fast

The other day, I caught myself scrolling on Twitter and Instagram for a total of one hour. Constantly paying attention to what other people were doing was distracting me from my own responsibilities. I was also posting every day, which dampened the novelty of my experiences. I removed all of my social media apps from my phone today and it feels good to fully focus on the things that pertain to me. I don’t know how long this fast will last, but I’ve made a plan to go without it for a week to start out with.

3. Daily Devotional/Morning Meditation

I’ve come to find out that the way my morning starts sets the tone for how I approach my day. When I wake up earlier in the morning to meditate, journal, and read the bible, I find myself to be more peaceful throughout the day. When I don’t, I find myself to be far more irritable and introverted. Making the time to center myself spiritually results in me having better days as a whole.  

4. Exercise/Read

Our physical and mental upkeep is vital for our own trajectory. I’ve recently realized that walking is a valuable stress reliever. Since most of my obligatory activities are within walking distance, putting a playlist together and achieving 10-12,000 steps a day has now turned into a routine. Imagine a week without road rage or paying for gas! Even if you aren’t able to walk everywhere, the gym is a great way to work off any anger from your work day.

It’s also a novel idea to take your mind off your own situation by immersing yourself into a good book. Dwelling too much on your job, school, or personal desires can easily result in a burnout effect. My literary interests are in the realm of biographies, self-help books, and realistic fiction novels. I currently finishing a book called ‘Unthink’ by Erik Wahl. I’ve found out that exposing myself to the imagination of different authors benefits my own creativity in everyday life.

5. Socialize with People That You Actually Like

This suggestion might seem to be ridiculously simple, but a lot of us work, study, or live in environments where we’re placed with the mental task of being around people that we don’t like. Nowadays I find myself cherishing the close knit collective of friends a lot more these days. Corporate kindness during the work week needs to be balanced out by securing time to spend with the people that know you best. Even though the movie ‘Girls Trip’ was primarily intended to entertain, the film proves that spending time with friends has therapeutic value.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

In closing, We all need to work on realigning ourselves on a frequent basis. The most productive versions of ourselves are exposed when our core is fully intact. Self-care and time management go hand in hand.

Banner Photography of Congresswoman Waters

Love Your Chapter: Embrace Self-Care

Heather J

Unfortunately, I catch flights AND I can't feelings. I have a hard time saying no to things I should and I often tend to bite off more than I can chew. Why? Because I can. 

But, I also realize that catching more flights than negative feelings contribute to my self-care, saying no to projects and saying yes to myself is a form of self-care. Although my wise decision making comes in waves at times I'm grateful for every opportunity I have to start over & reset.

My cup. What does my self-care cup look like? Is it full, is it empty? Is it plastic, is it glass? What's in my cup is what's in my cup. We all have a cup and at times we allow our cups to overflow due to the expectations of others or you may be like me and be to hard on yourself. I often write about my cup being chipped, half-empty, spilled, rattled & re-filled; I meditate and reflect on what self-care looks for me and how important it is for me to constantly replenish and to be mindful of whom I let drink from my cup and the things that cause my cup to overflow. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Self-Care for me on this Friday morning is enjoyable as I sip Blueberry Hibiscus tea and reflect on the recent changes in my life. I take pride in the fact that I'm bold, courageous, I travel solo and I can't seem to sit still. When we ignore our self-care regimens, our self worth and internal feelings it can cause burn out, stress, anxiety, irritability, depression and even high blood pressure. I know because within a years' time I've experienced all those things, alone. I recently quit my job, relocated, spent long days in silence, cried, laughed and gave myself a few pats on the back; all over the span of 4 weeks.

Being highly extroverted and confident doesn't make up for the fact that I too have times where I need to reset and check in with myself.

I am in my mid-twenties and I've found that as the days pass it's important for me to live out my truth and be happy. I recently left a job that was no longer serving me in ways I found desirable. I was constantly saying yes to people and things that didn't make me happy or fulfill me in joyful ways. The job didn't align with my personal mission and values in life, which I find important.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Self-Care for me is getting in tune with my intuition, my wants & needs and deciphering what just isn't working anymore. How can I be a self-care advocate but not be fulfilled mentally, spiritually, personally and professionally? That's when I made a conscious decision and a choice to feel free, to give myself a second chance, and to tap into my own self-worth.

Self care for me is unplugging for awhile, being with "self" for a nice period of time. It's detaching from people and things that consume a lot of my time and energy. Protecting my peace, space, mind, body & soul is a form of self-care for me. Too often we overlook that we in fact have needs, those needs don't necessarily come from others, it starts with self. So protect what you allow in your precious space.

Self care for me is releasing one-sided relationships. As a natural healer and giver, I find myself trying to create harmony amongst everyone, being there for everyone and trying to be everything to everyone. In case you're wondering, being depicted as the "strong" friend serves its purpose, but even I don't have it all together.

I often ask myself when balancing relationships: Who are the fruit pickers and fertilizers within my life? Who holds me accountable? Who supports me when it's needed most or pushes me to be my best self? Ask yourself those questions and evaluate the relationships in your life, self-care. Maintaining healthy relationships is important but it shouldn't be a chore, you shouldn't feel like you over extend yourself. 

Remember to give to yourself as much as you give of yourself. 

Self care for me is touching every inch of my body, recognizing that it is accepted fully by me. When I wrote "Lines of Accepted Flaws" I wrote that with every woman in mind who may struggle with self-acceptance, the appearance of their scars and stretch marks. 

Listening to Common's "One Day It'll All Make Sense" with no skips is "self-care" for me. Listening to the lyrics and being able to vibe to melodic tunes and words that contribute to my identity makes me feel at ease. When Solange sings about "Cranes in the Sky" I begin to reflect on a past lover and how letting go allowed me to recover; self-care was putting me first. We all heal, grow and process differently; but be mindful that letting go is a form of self-care.

Photo by GIPHY  

Photo by GIPHY  

Self-Care for me is connecting with black artists and studying the inspiration behind their expression. As a poet and writer, I tend to write about the things I find inspiring, things I find troubling to talk about aloud and I use it as a space to feel full and whole.

That's what self-care for me looks like. Nobody can define what it looks like for you.

I’m at a chapter in my life where Peace IS a priority, I now understand that I am responsible for my OWN happiness, and I realize that moving forward is the only option. 

Loving this chapter. 


My Soundtrack To Self-Love (Part 2)

Bryan Patterson

Self-love starts with an irreversible decision to be better. It's a self-kept promise to put in the necessary work to transcend your current situation. Here's part two of my soundtrack to self-love.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

6. Through The Wire - Kanye West

"I'm a champion, so I turn tragedy to triumph"

After I was finished with my shift, I bought a notebook and went home to plan my exit strategy. I could pay off the bill by Christmas Eve and still have money left over for myself. I committed to December 30th being the last day at my job. I would spend New Year's Eve at church with my family and be back in school on January 11 for the Spring semester. I challenged myself. I saved my money. I acted on bettering my situation. My consistency resulted in victory. I walked through a negative space to arrive at a new positive. I was secure. I valued life in a different way. My appreciation was on another level. I was a lot more serious than before. I grew. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

7. That's How I Knew - Nipsey Hussle

"Now I got a different goal, 'cause I reached all my old ones"

That semester introduced me to a lot of experiences that changed my view on my own abilities. I was selected to be in music ensembles that I hadn't been in before. I was in a theater giving a concert for four nights. I was traveling just to play music for people I had never met. My reality was my fantasy. Anything was possible. I started doing weddings and getting paid for my public performances. I was now living the life that I spent so many nights dreaming about.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

8. Biking - Frank Ocean ft. Jay-Z & Tyler, The Creator

"Life goes in cycles, what goes around comes around"

As I was elevating, so was my ego. I became engulfed in my own abilities. I believed that each accomplishment derived from my own doing. I was like a helium balloon, lost in the atmosphere. On May 26th,  2016, I fell ill with a serious case of pneumonia. My fever was 104 degrees with high potential of brain damage if my temperature been just two degrees higher. To make matters worse, I was just offered a job as an administrative assistant for an artist management company the day before. The pneumonia was so bad that I couldn't work or even play my saxophone for a month. I used that time to reflect on all the things I was doing wrong up to that point. I realized that my relationship with God wasn't where it needed to be, nor was I as grounded as I needed to be. I viewed my pneumonia as God's way of humbling me. On June 25th, I was well enough to play my horn. I had a gig where I performed Mahalia Jackson's rendition of 'The Lord's Prayer'. From that day on, I decided to put God first. I let go of trying to control everything and believed in Him. If something bad happened, I would rest assured knowing that I was in His safety. 

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

9. Love Yourz - J. Cole

"For what's money without happiness? Or hard times without the people you love?"

Lately, I've noticed that the beauty in life is found in the balance of ambition and appreciation. I still have professional goals, but I also make time to FaceTime my little sister. A direct deposit doesn't mean as much as a two hour and fourteen-minute conversation with my mother about life and God's plan. I still feel like a helium balloon, but my loved ones keep me from drifting too far away. Their love is what pushes me to go further. I practice self-care by being loyal to them.

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

10. Rolls Royce ***** - 2 Chainz

"Believe in yourself, who else gon' believe in you?"

I've been through quite a bit in these past two years. The main lesson that I've learned is that life has its ups and downs. Not everything is my fault, but everything in my life is to help me grow from where I was. Self-Care is a practice that never stops. It's a journey of checkpoints. I practice self-care by meditating every morning. I have a journal that I write in every day. I practice self-love by believing in myself. I purchased a domain name and published my own website. I released my first album. I have my own radio show. I'm a writing contributor for this website. All of these things were deferred dreams until now. I acted and started moving toward the lifestyle that I wanted for myself. There's a lot more to do, but I'm growing. I can feel it. 

I wrote this article to help anyone who was like me and was unsure about the concept of self-love. What songs would serve as your soundtrack to self-love? Let me know in the comments below. Peace and Love.