The entire world is in the midst of something that hasn’t been experienced for more than a century. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the states particularly hard, with New York City now being the epicenter of the epidemic. Sadly, a growing data point that has emerged is that COVID-19 is ravaging Black communities across the nation. In New York City alone, predominantly Black neighborhoods have seen the highest rate of those testing positive for the virus.
In Illinois, despite only comprising 14.6% of the state’s population, data from health officials have shown they make up 29.4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 41% percent of deaths attributed to the virus. The numbers are more dire in the state of Louisiana, where a staggering 70% of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 are Black even though they make up one-third of the state’s population. With these numbers also combined with the difficulties posed by the economic shock to the system the nation is undergoing, it can be hard for many of us to find some consistent peace of mind these days. But there are ways for those who might be at home to “hold your corner” and maintain a good level of mental wellness for themselves and their loved ones.
Here are a few actionable yet impactful ways to make that happen. But first, take a minute to pause, inhale, exhale and breathe.
Related: Wellness Wednesdays With Dr. Ally
Don’t neglect the need for quiet time and reflection
Living under quarantine is sure to elevate one’s anxiety. By having a few moments during the day set aside for quiet time, it does wonders to alleviate these feelings. For those who are religious, it also helps to tune in to faith services held online by various houses of worship. Also, meditation has proven to be a significant boost to mental wellness. There are different guided meditation sessions geared towards our community and even mobile applications to that end.
Modify your news consumption
While it’s beneficial to receive news and vital information in an instant on television and social media, being glued to news reports can add more stress than you need. It can have a negative impact on your mood and can even lead to “headline stress disorder.” Although easier said than done, try to allocate only one or two points throughout the day for your daily news check-ins. It also might serve as a benefit to look for positive news roundups to boost your frame of mind.
Stay connected with those you care about
Yes, social distancing is the “new normal,” but it doesn’t mean one should be emotionally distant. Set up group phone calls and video chats with family members and friends. Many people are coming up with innovative ways to accomplish this, from one father who recreated a hibachi restaurant experience for his son’s birthday to virtual happy hours with friends and co-workers. If you miss heading out to the club or brunching, there are a few options to make that happen virtually as well.
Mind and body fitness
Sometimes being inactive and cooped up in the house can become both mentally and emotionally exhausting. If it’s starting to creep up on you, take a 10-minute breather by stepping outside in your driveway, patio, or yard. If you decide to go for a walk to get some fresh air, please, of course, observe the distancing guidelines of staying at least six feet apart from others and wearing a mask. Also consider taking advantage of the growing number of fitness classes led by online instructors, which include yoga, Instagram live dance sessions, and family workouts, in addition to what your gym might offer through their mobile apps.
It’s okay to seek professional support
If you find it more difficult to handle things as you’re dealing with the emotional pressures brought on by COVID-19 and adapting to all of the changes, then it’s best to seek out resources for professional counseling. While there has been a distinct lack of available mental health professionals within the Black community in the past, presently, there are more options to choose from, such as Therapy for Black Girls and Therapy for Black Men. Another resource to consider is your city’s health department. They usually have a listing of organizations and support groups available, including free and low-cost options.