Mental Health and Wellness Advocate
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
Black mental wellness means giving ourselves grace, the space to be vulnerable, and the ability to embrace emotional and mental well-being. It means removing the stigma and breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma. It means more research pertaining to our many unique experiences and how it affects our mental health. It means affordable and accessible mental health care and self-care activities. It means acknowledging the strength it takes to openly say we're not okay and actively working towards our healing. Liberation requires mental wellness.
What wellness strategies do you think should be given more attention within the Black community? Are there any reasons why you think they are not given more attention?
There is a lot healing and restoration of inner peace in breathwork and yoga, which both primarily exist in a predominately White domain. As a media & social media heavy society, I think when we don't see many people who look like us participating in these wellness activities, it can be easy to rule them out for us. It's one of the reasons why I admire Lauren Ash (Black Girl in Om) and Jasmine Marie (black girls breathing) so much because their mission is to carve out space for Black womxn in these predominately White wellness spaces. More work needs to be done to create space for our Black men as well.
How do you make time for your own wellness and self-care?
It can be really hard to do so but one thing I've started doing is putting my phone away at 9pm most nights of the week. I make intentional use of that hour and will either journal, read, meditate, or watch tv. It forces me to have uninterrupted time with myself in whatever capacity feels necessary for that day. Additionally, I love to cook. There's something so calming about being in the kitchen and playing around with a new recipe to me. While my current schedule doesn't allow me to cook as often as I'd like to, I make sure to carve out several hours on Sundays to make a new and exciting meal for my family.
What are your top 5 favorite wellness and self-care strategies?
Yoga is definitely my number one. I established a dedicated practice about two and a half years ago at a time when I really needed it.
Writing is also a big one for me. I find words to be very powerful. Depending on how they are structured, they can bring about a lot of emotions, foster connections, and help create visual pictures.
Exercise. I know some people don't view exercise as self-care, but it is for me. I love being able to challenge myself and nothing feels more rewarding to me than completing a workout dripped in sweat. Sometimes it feels like I've just sweat out everything that no longer served me in that moment.
Gratitude & Affirmation Statements. I've recently been incorporating these two into my daily routine and they've been really beneficial in shaping the rest of my day.
Music. I think my love and reliance on music for self-care goes back to my love for words and emotions. Sometimes listening to music in a dark room can be so grounding.
Patricia Noel is a mental health and wellness advocate. She graduated from Penn State University with a BA in Psychology and Public Relations. After three years in the entertainment industry, she made a career switch into human services. Having spent two years working in crisis services for LGBTQ youth, she recently transitioned to a more macro-based work within the same organization. In May 2021, she'll graduate with an MSW in clinical social work with aspirations to continue spreading mental health awareness within the Black community with a focus on maternal mental health, youth suicidology, LGBTQ mental health, and the mental health of those who are immigrants and first generation. Patricia is passionate about equality, mental health and wellness, and ensuring youth know their importance and impact in the world, despite age and other circumstances.