As we approach the end of a challenging year, you may find yourself interested in improving your mental health after a taxing year. The end of the year is also a time of reflection and goal setting for the incoming new year. As you reflect on 2020 and prepare for 2021, have you had a hard time finding a therapist or booking an appointment with your therapist of choice? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with alternative resources to traditional psychotherapy or counseling!
Engage in Wellness Focused Exercise
Exercise is a great way to improve your overall well-being. Consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in safe exercise. Once you have been cleared to get your move on, find an activity you enjoy. This could be walking, group exercise, yoga, barre, marathon training or dance.
There are multiple online exercise programs available that offer workouts that can be done in home or outdoors. Many gyms are also implementing COVID-19 protocols to keep members safe. Find a form of movement that brings you joy as you are more likely to stick with an activity that you enjoy. Aim for 20-40 minutes a day, at least 3 times a week for maximum benefit.
Exercise improves symptoms of depression and anxiety by triggering the release of endorphins and activating monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain to include dopamine and serotonin. Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin help regulate and boost mood. Exercise may also increase blood tryptophan levels. Tryptophan is associated with increased serotonin production in the brain.
You can reap these benefits when you exercise with the intention to be healthy mentally and physically. Be careful of over exerting yourself or setting toxic or unrealistic body image goals for yourself. Exercise addiction and body dysmorphia are real. Be gentle with yourself and prioritize wellness.
Optimize Your Nutrition
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is another great way to promote your overall well-being. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to nourish your unique body. Here are some key nutrients to consider to improve your mental health:
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are essential to brain structure and functioning. 20% of our brain structure is made up of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3’s & 6’s are considered good mood foods as they help prevent depression and anxiety. Foods like salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds are rich in omega fatty acids. There are also vitamins and supplements that are rich in omega fatty acids available on the market.
As aforementioned, tryptophan is associated with increased serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin helps boost mood and fight depression. Cashews, oats, chicken, tuna and bananas are rich in tryptophan.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness is effective in reducing anxiety, improving depression symptoms and quality of life.
Breathwork benefits include releasing difficult emotions and traumas and decreasing stress and anxiety help free up cognitive resources consumed by anxious and stressful thoughts or traumas.
Liberate Meditation offers guided medications for BIPOC individuals. The Liberation Meditation application can be downloaded on your smartphone device.
Talk to your healthcare provider.
Your primary healthcare provider can help you explore alternatives to therapy to include medications. Although psychotropic medications are more effective with psychotherapy, they can still be beneficial without therapy. Your primary healthcare provider can also assess for other health conditions that can impact your mental health to include chronic conditions like cardiovascular disorders, endocrine disorders and gastrointestinal disorders.
Take Advantage of All the Therapy for Black Girls Has to Offer
Therapy for Black Girls offers diverse resources to support your mental health and protect your Black Girl Magic!
- The Yellow Couch Collective – A space for Black women to gather to support, encourage, and learn from one another.
- Mental Health focused blog posts (like this one!) and podcasts
- Guided Journaling
- Digital Coloring Book
- A Loving Reminder Audio Affirmation
Be sure to follow Therapy for Black Girls on your favorite social media platform to stay abreast of all of our resources.
We hope that these resources bring you joy and help you thrive. We wish you all the best as we transition into 2021! Let us know if you try any of these alternatives.
If you experience a mental health crisis or medical emergency when pursuing these alternatives, please dial 911. These resources are not a substitute for medical advice. Therapy is a very effective tool that we encourage you to pursue if you are able. The benefits of these alternatives are enhanced with therapy or counseling from a licensed professional.