Have you ever noticed that when anybody who has worked with Beyoncé speaks, everybody listens? Such was the case when I sat down to hear from Marco Borges, a celebrity nutritionist and exercise physiologist at the 2019 Essence Festival Wellness House. Naturally, we were tuned in and ready for whatever he had to say. What I thought might be a few quick food demonstrations actually turned out to be a conversation about wellness and the critical part that food plays in it. Amongst the gems of wisdom Marco threw out, one stuck with me in particular – “Your physical health is your mental health, and your mental health is your physical health.”
This resonated so much with what I’d experienced in maintaining my mental and physical health through my fitness journey, but there was another layer to this. Like a triangle whose sides prop up one another, both your physical and mental health lead to your spiritual health.
See, we’re pretty good at listening to our physical health because the symptoms are just clearer most times. A rash, a bump, a cough, blood — these are all signs that something needs to be dealt with. We’re getting better at listening to our mental health, but those symptoms are kind of hard to spot unless you’re really paying attention to yourself. Rapid breathing or a rapid heartbeat might suggest anxiety, or overwhelming feelings of sadness and fatigue might signal depression. But, the way Marco connected physical health to mental health told me that I still have work to do on understanding how I listen to the area where these two converge — my spiritual health.
RELATED: Black Women Need Therapy, Too
The next day, I found myself talking to a friend who felt like she just wasn’t in the right place. Being away from home and friends left her feeling isolated, and struggling to express her creativity made her feel trapped. See, she’d always been the singer in college. At talent shows, a baseball game, at random Black events on campus, there was a chance you’d see her putting her vocals on full display. This is why I found it so strange, years later, that she was continuing to struggle with putting herself out there, but I’d also been here before. It was a place where you want to display some creative gift, like dancing or singing, but you can’t quite get the nerve to do it. I recognized the same challenge I had when I started writing, which was how I knew that what we were talking about was a symptom of something chipping away at her spiritual health. Her gift had always been singing for as far back as she could remember. From the first time she sang in her church back home, to the first time she floored us on campus, this was a part of who she was. It seemed like the further she got from that gift, the further she got from herself.