From Self-Awareness to Self-Care
By Guest Blogger Dominique Gregory
“Have you ever wondered how someone could walk through the valleys of hell and still come out unscathed? Yes, that is the epitome of coping skills.”
identifying the symptoms
Ever wake up in the morning and automatically feel like you have to start again tomorrow? Ever notice you get annoyed or angered by the smallest things? Or maybe, you’re experiencing this internal chaos or emptiness, but just can’t put your finger on what is causing it? Well, you’ve come to the right place to gain some insight. Let’s talk about mental health: how it affects us individually, how does it affect us as a community, and last, but not least, learning more about who you are as an individual so that you can better prepare yourself for these “bad days”. So drumroll please… and without further ado, let’s dissect the sticky topic of mental health.
Maintaining Mental Well-Being
How does Mental Health affect you as an individual? Well first let’s break down what mental health is. Mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. With that being said, on an individual level, the focus is specifically on how that individual is functioning in the psychological and emotional aspects. This is where coping skills are very important. Have you ever wondered how someone could walk through the valleys of hell and still come out unscathed? Yes, that is the epitome of coping skills. Before we move ahead, let’s breakdown what coping is. Coping is one’s own conscious effort to solve any type of problem (no matter how big or small) to reduce stress and/or conflict. Now, coping skills can either be positive or negative. Some examples of positive coping skills may be exercising, prayer, expressing one’s thoughts (either to a confidante or in a forum, like therapy or support groups). Whereas, negative coping skills may involve lashing out, drinking alcohol excessively, or using drugs. In my practice, coping skills are the foundation of an individual’s mental health. Therefore, in order to get through everyday stressors of life, one would need positive coping skills to maintain mental well-being.
The Elephant in the Room
How does Mental Health affect us as a community? Whewww chile, mental health in certain communities of color is just the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. I am of both African American and West Indian descent. I say that to make it clear that I acknowledge that in both of these communities, it is difficult to have a conversation about mental health. Because of this, it’s difficult to provide treatment in the earlier stages of a mental health issue. Most times whenever the conversation would be brought up, the answer is to pray or “leave it in God’s hands.” Now, I’m not saying that the man upstairs does not provide us with blessings every day, but sometimes religion/spirituality is not the only answer.
Some people really do need psychological counseling to help process their thoughts and understand it, before moving forward. Some may need hospitalization with further treatments, such as medications and other psychiatric procedures. Needless to say, the first step is admitting there is a problem. Mental health is such a stigma in both of these communities that most do not receive proper treatment. In turn, they tend to use substances, such as alcohol or drugs to numb themselves, or anger management issues become their outlet. You see what I did there, #NegativeCopingSkills. It’s time for us to stop the cycle and make mental health awareness more comfortable to talk about.
What should you know about yourself as an individual? Have you ever recognized that you’re in such a great mood one minute and then the next minute, the whole mood is blown? More than likely, the change in your mood is caused by a trigger. A trigger is an external event that may cause any psychological symptoms such as anxiety, panic, anger, or sadness. This is where I compel you to look within yourself and analyze what triggers you. It could be a specific person, a situation, or something as simple as a word, smell, or sound. Once you recognize your trigger, you are a step ahead of the “mood killer.” It’s best to be proactive because you recognize the trigger in advance and utilize your positive coping skills to decrease any further psychological/emotional stress. Recognizing your trigger can be very difficult because most times you have to be triggered to recognize it. Some people are triggered every day, but still, don’t realize what the trigger is. The best way to identify it is to ask yourself, was there a mood change? When exactly did the mood change? What happened right before the mood changed? In that moment, after asking yourself these questions, you can potentially identify the trigger. The hardest part is stopping your reaction to the trigger and analyzing the situation. However, I promise you once you do, you may not be as easily triggered as before because you are more aware of “you.”
- The Safe Place – Mental Health app from coping skills, meditation, and even spirituality.
- Calm Harm – provides tasks to help you resist or manage the urge to self-harm.
- MoodMission – missions based to improve your mood and coping skills.
- Happify – utilizes science-based activities and games to reduce stress.
- TalkSpace – Match with a licensed therapist in your state from the comfort of your device.
Meet Dominique Gregory, Psychiatric Registered Nurse 80% of the time. She has worked in the field for 10 years in both group homes and locked psychiatric units. She’s also a Business Owner 20% of the time. She recently started Crush Delight, a business that specializes in homemade natural body products. Currently, there are soaps and body scrubs available, with plans of expanding to body butters and candles in the near future.