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Home Health & Wellness How COVID-19 Brings Greater Mental Distress To Black Communities & How to...

How COVID-19 Brings Greater Mental Distress To Black Communities & How to Come Out On Top

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PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID DEE DELGADO/GETTY IMAGES

In one of the most traumatizing experiences of human history, the coronavirus pandemic has caused civilians around the world to come together, and stay apart. The progressive changes of wearing face masks, staying home, keeping distance at grocery stores, and unemployment, has spiked stress levels like never before. However, African-Americans are facing a higher level of mental and emotional distress than other groups.

The sympathy extended to other Americans doesn’t seem to reach African-American communities. 

Police harassment has increased, with African-Americans being harassed in grocery stores, questioned by store clerks, and perceived as criminals, simply by wearing the required face masks. This is so, even as governors across the nation are asking their residents to wear face masks when they leave the house. This level of chronic stress, which is persistent stress that does not stop, weakens the immune system and makes one more susceptible to getting sick. Therefore, this increases the likelihood of African-Americans being exposed to the coronavirus, simply due to their immune system not functioning properly, from stress. 

Here are 3 tips to set boundaries and parameters that can keep you safe within your diet, household, finances.

You are one decision away from a completely different life. 

Safe Homes 

It is important to restore the Black family, and make it safe to be at home. During this time, we have seen a rise in domestic violence, and children being dissatisfied in the household. However, we can change that narrative by choosing to heal. African-Americans have generations of trauma that has been suppressed, simply because some of us have been trying to survive.

This is important because during this time, we don’t want our children leaving the house, getting kidnapped, or sold into sex trafficking, because predators know that when children do not want to be in their household, they are a prime suspects for all of the above.

Instead of eating your feelings away, smoking them away, or drinking them away, this is a great time for you and your family to come out on top. Although some of strategies may be new to you, you’ll see results from putting them into practice and trying something that can shift the trajectory of your family.

Set a time for family meetings. Dedicate 10 to 30 minutes each weekday, to come together as a family and talk about the highlight of your day and the low part of your day. This will establish a family tradition, and help the members of the family feel heard on a daily basis. Make some family rules, so that no one feels attacked. 

Make a decision to forgive. Once you have had at least five family meetings, make a decision to forgive each other by apologizing. Tension in the household is a result of unforgiveness and sweeping things under the rug. Take this time to get it out and clean not only your physical household, but your emotional household as well.

Start therapy. The level of trauma that African Americans experience from elementary school into adulthood is tremendous and surpasses any other cultural group. Several therapists are offering discounted services during this time. Take advantage of it, and if you do not want to, allow your children to partake in it, especially if you’re having difficulty communicating with them. You can work with an African-American therapist, by visiting www.therapyforblackgirls.com or www.therapyforblackmen.com 

Start planning your holidays now. Although we are in the summer, take this time with your family to create hope. Start creating new family traditions, talk about what places you want to visit, talk about what recipes you want to learn, what food you want to cook, how do you want to decorate the house, and start planning for a victorious future in the holiday season.

Build Black Businesses 

Perspective is everything, and it is important to know that Cash app, Venmo, Airbnb, and Uber, we’re all birthed during the 2008 -2012 recession. These billion dollar corporations were created during dark times in our country, and they are on top now. The same can be true for Black business. It is time to create our own businesses and towns, no longer should we settle for letting every other cultural group invade our communities, while we give them our money, and they still disrespect us. It is time for Black towns, not hoods. Black economics works, which is why every other cultural group comes to our neighborhood to take our money because they know African-Americans are profitable.

Here are some helpful tips to help you get started on building your Black business.

  • Understand that it is okay if you are not an entrepreneur, however, every entrepreneur needs a helping hand. A Visionary is the person who has a vision for a company/goal, and then there’s an Innovator, the person who takes the proper steps to actually reach the goal of the vision. Every visionary needs an innovator, every entrepreneur needs an employee. 
  • You may have to put your passion to the side and see what business is profitable and necessary. If you think that people are not spending money during this time, you are sadly mistaken. It is not wrong to sell products during this time, as people use shopping as a form to deal with stress. 
  • It’s understanding what type of products to sell, and how to meet the needs of people. Look around your environment, local stores, and listen to the things that people are complaining about. What do people need that they don’t have access to? How can you be a solution to a problem? When you figure that out, then you’re in business. Not everyone wants your jewelry line right now, so learn to shift gears and maybe get into a different industry where people are seeking to spend money.
  • If you don’t know where to start, contact your local small business development center. This is a federal government program that provides free services, free training and legal services for small business owners and entrepreneurs. They will teach you everything that you need to know, for free. Use this website and contact them today, and they will coach you through the process. https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/?type=Small%20Business%20Development%20Center&pageNumber=1 
  • If you already have an idea, reach out to the SBDC center, but also hire interns. If you cannot afford to pay them, say that you will provide a letter of recommendation and experience. Utilize their services for a few months and be sure to hire interns who can do the work that you do not know how to do. There’s no excuses, just solutions.

Most importantly, make a decision to hire African-Americans. If other people are not employing us, or treating us with decency and respect in predominantly white spaces, it is now our responsibility to create Black businesses, hire Black people, and create safe places to be Black and work. When you continuously do the work on yourself, it will be easier for people to want to work with you.

Healthy Body 

Large consumptions of sugar decreases the body’s ability to fight off infection and decreases the effectiveness of the immune system. This is the time to purify your system with large consumptions of fruits, vegetables, and eating food located on the perimeter of the grocery store. Processed food contributes to headaches, weight gain, dark circles around the eyes, mood dysregulation, and irritability. Examples of processed food are:

  • Cookies, cupcakes, cake
  • Sugarcoated cereal, fruit snacks, marshmallows, Cheez-Its 
  • Muffins, Oreos, and any food that incorporates food color dye, such as popsicles

Although these may be things that we are used to, they are selling out at an all-time high, because they are comfort food. However, eating these foods during this time when you are in the house, will lead to stress eating, which can lead to obesity, strokes, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. 

Your family needs you, your bloodline needs you, there are generations before you that need you. What you do affects more people than just you, and this is the perfect time to get on YouTube, join a support group, and start exercising on a daily basis, to see the results that you want.

Victory is on the other side of this when we each take care of our Black families and become wealthy business owners, just like our ancestors did with Black Wall Street. 

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