Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.
Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
So what might this process look like?
Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.
As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!
By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni
“No matter how much positive energy you put into the world, you’re still gonna have people who have something mean to say about you.”
– Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo), Grammy Award Winning American Singer
What is Body Image?
The way people perceive and feel their physical selves is called body image. Men, women, and all peoples have concerns about their body image. Their weight, the shape or size of a body part, skin, or hair is often zeroed in, bashed, and picked apart. The fashion industry is a major contributor to widespread unhealthy body image through the careful selection of underweight models to display their products, but our peers, the media, and even family members all influence body image. This often promotes destructive feelings of inadequacy.
Body Acceptance Journey
Melissa Viviane Jefferson – known professionally as Lizzo – is an American music artist celebrated for her vocals, savvy personality, and positive body image. She attacks the world with explosive performances and lyrics. The singer shows the world how much she adores herself through outspoken music- inspiring others to accept, love, and protect their own bodies.
Following the release of her new single and a step back into the public limelight, Lizzo had an Instagram honest moment that addressed negative body image comments.
“On the days I feel I should be the happiest, I feel so down,” Lizzo told fans while sitting in her bathroom wearing a wig cap dabbing her eyes. “Like, I hurt so hard.” The Grammy winner revealed she feels unappreciated for working “quadruple” the time. “Sometimes I feel like the world just don’t love me back,” she sobbed.
Positive and Negative Body Image
Everyone struggles with body image. Having a positive body image is understanding that the value of self-worth is not dependent on appearance. It is a positive energy accepting and appreciating a stable body appearance. If a person is satisfied with their image, they flaunt it – unapologetically.
And for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I don’t care!
Unsatisfaction with one’s appearance is called negative body image. People may compare themselves with others, feel ashamed about parts of their bodies, lack confidence, or feeling uncomfortable in their own body.
Improving Body Image
Learning to love your body is a journey. A balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthier attitudes, food, exercises, and practices is easier when you are in tune with and respond to the needs of your body.
These tips can help a person feel more positive about their body.
List 10 things you like about yourself
Practice positive self-talk. Say, “My arms are strong” or “I am beautiful.”
Do something nice for your body
Aim for a healthful lifestyle and eat a nutritious diet
Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
Avoid comparing yourself with other people.
Be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel inadequate.
See yourself as a whole person, and an imperfect body part.
Start a hobby or blog
I don’t have time for your negativity – your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with your racism and fatphobia. I don’t have time for it. Anyways, I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be a bad b—-.
by Adrienne Stokes, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne Dyer
Regular meditation can help you to control your emotions, enhance your focus, and decrease stress. There are many different ways to mediate. The following steps can help get you started.
Step By Step Guide to Meditation
Choose a quiet, peaceful environment free from distractions
Wear comfortable clothes
Decide how long you want to meditate, 15-45 minutes is recommended
Sit in a comfortable upright position with your spine straightened
Close your eyes if it helps you to focus and relax
Follow your breathing
Breathe deeply, inhale through your nose then exhale through your mouth
Focus on your breathing and breathing only
Let all thoughts slide away and empty your mind, focus only on your breathing
Become aware of the rising and falling of your abdomen as you breathe in and out
Continue like this until your time is up.
Meditation takes practice. Don’t worry if you have trouble emptying your mind or become frustrated or easily distracted, just return to following your breathing. As you train your mind and body to relax through meditation, you’ll become accustomed to the routine and begin to associate deep breathing with stress relief. In the same way that pictures of food may make us feel hungry, meditative breathing can decrease our stress.
So, if you’re having a bad day and feeling under pressure, stop for just a moment to take a few deep breaths. The results may surprise you.
“What is missing is fun. We need to unplug and do something fun! It may sound cheesy, but having fun is self-care.” – Khalia Wilkinson
Are you ready to live well, be healthy, and walk into abundant life? Conversations with Khalia is a platform designed for women to speak freely about matters of life. Conversations with Khalia is a virtual talk on women’s wellness hosted through the East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Library every fourth Monday of the month. Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson is a coach and minister working with women looking to ditch feeling stressed, overwhelmed, drained, and desiring to be accomplished, healthy, and thriving. On April 26, 2021, she will host an online conversation at 12:15PM CST. You can register here (https://tinyurl.com/Online-Conversations) or call (205) 836-3341 to attend.
Khalia Wilkinson is a counselor and wellness coach with 15 years of experience mentoring and training women. She has written The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide to uplift women experiencing wellness withdrawals due to the sudden shifts in their schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide discusses in-depth how to navigate the required activities of daily living in this new unforeseen space while managing isolation, mental wellness, schedules, and self-care. She also hosts the Woman31 Podcast, a podcast rooted in biblical principles found in Proverbs, Chapter 31 with an accompanying website: Woman31.
Khalia believes that a woman’s health and well-being is foundational to ensuring all other scheduled family activities are successfully completed. The Women’s COVID-19 Survival Guide embraces concepts of self-care in support of one’s overall health and wellness. The guide offers easy-to-perform tasks that can help individuals better manage their well-being.
Self-care is typically visualized as a spa day. However, Khalia suggests that adequate sleep, eating a healthy and satisfying meal, praying, laughing at a good movie, and/or speaking with a trusted and supportive friend are all excellent modes of self-care. Understanding where you are and what health areas you need to focus on is pivotal to living well.
Khalia says that mental health is vital to overall wellness. She suggested that seeking professional counseling is absolutely a “good thing” to do, especially when one is experiencing serious mental illness. She also mentioned that feeling negative emotions is a signal to our body that something is not “okay.” Thus, it is important to listen to our body and seek help. When asked if there was any wellness advice she could offer, she said, “Do something fun and find ways to get back to the activities we love, because it can be healthy for our bodies.” You can always connect with Mrs. Khalia Wilkinson on Instagram, @khalia.woman31.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Managing your stress and anxiety is important for long-term health and wellness. Healthy stress management improves resiliency, especially when times are tough, but it can be tricky to put into practice. There are a lot of pressures in everyday life that demand attention so taking care of your own mental health can feel difficult to prioritize. The very pressure to manage your stress can be stressful itself, but finding healthy ways to cope with stress is good for your mind and body. Reducing your stress also reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease and supports healthy immune system functioning.
If thinking about stress management is at all overwhelming and you just want somewhere to start, there’s a simple solution: Go for a walk.
Walking is easy and you already know how to do it. Other common methods of stress-relief like yoga and meditation take skill and practice, but anyone can go for a walk. It gives you time to yourself away from the usual distractions and is a low-impact aerobic exercise. If you’re new to tackling your stress and feeling overwhelmed at all, walking is effective and can quickly become part of your daily routine. It’s low-stress stress relief for beginners!
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your wellness walk:
Walk outside. Being outside among nature is good for your, mental-wellbeing, particularly if you live in a city.
Walk for at least 20-30 minutes. If you’re not sure how to plan a walking route, just pick a direction and walk for 10-15 minutes, then turn around and walk back.
Take deep calming breaths while you walk. Breathe in for 5 seconds while expanding your whole chest, then exhale slowly.
It is safe to walk outside without a mask, provided you are more than 6 feet from the nearest person. Take a mask with you anyway, for safety.
Use this time to take a break from the news and social media. Focus only on enjoying the moment.
Hunter, M. R., Gillespie, B. W., & Chen, S. Y. (2019). Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life based on salivary biomarkers. Frontiers in Psychology,10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722
Commentary drawn from Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Media Statement & Website released Thursday, April 8 2021
According to the CDC (2021),…”Racism—both interpersonal and structural —negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.”
The CDC is committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC—as the nation’s leading public health agency—has established this web portal, “Racism and Health” to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions. Working with the broader public health community, the CDC will serve as a catalyst to further investigate the impact of racism on health and efforts to achieve health equity for all.
As the nation’s leading public health agency, other efforts from the CDC in addressing the impact of racism on public health include:
Continuing to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.
Making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.
Expanding internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.
By Jun Wang & Shayna Bryan (Interns & UAB Community Health & Human Services Students), & Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity. People from all around the world come here and contribute to the broader American community. Asian Americans & Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens also call the United States of American their home, about 22.6 million in number which accounts for about 5.4% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2021).
Anti-Asian sentiment is not a new problem in the United States. Asian immigrants first came to the US in the 1850s and were instrumental in expansion and development of the western half of the country (US Census Bureau, 2020). But in response to cultural and economic objections fueled by ethnic discrimination, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act, which remains the first and only immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. The law wasn’t repealed until 1943. This type of in-group/out-group mentality threatens our strength and abilities as a country. It is in this vein and in working to affirm the humanity of all individuals that the recent rise in violent acts against the AAPI community must be addressed and stopped.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen by 150% (Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, 2020). During this time when our country should unite to face down the COVID-19 pandemic, some choose dissension, violence, and hate. But we can choose to be kind to each other, seek to live peacefully with one another, and act to care for our neighbors.
Here are some tips for all of us to combat this challenge together:
Call 911 for help or to make a report to authorities if you witness a hate crime or harmful incident suspected of being racially or ethnically motivated.
Use your voice within social media to speak against hate speech, while affirming support for all humanity.
Do a “care check-in” with your AAPI neighbors and friends
By Shayna Bryan (UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern) and Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
Every February since 1964, Americans have celebrated American Heart Month! Why? According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death among American adults and most ethnic/racial groups. Heart disease the body’s circulatory system, i.e. your veins and arteries. There are several forms of heart disease, but some of the most common include heart attack and coronary artery disease. According to the American Heart Association , a heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is interrupted, thus the oxygen supply to the heart muscle is reduced or completely cut off. This is important because the CDC estimates that 805,000 heart attacks occur annually in the United States.
Among Americans, non-Hispanic Black (African Americans) are at great risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that about half of African-American women over the age of 20 have some form of heart disease, yet only about 1 out of 3 know their heart health risk. Around 50,000 African-American women die from cardiovascular disease annually. But we can prevent the deaths and reduce the number of our families impacted by heart disease. Here is what we can do:
Step 1: Learn your risk for heart disease.
Visit your doctor and ask for diagnostic tests for coronary heart disease. If you don’t have a personal physician or access to health care, contact Jefferson County Department of Health or your local county health department for assistance.
In general, any individual who has been diagnosed with any of these conditions is at risk for heart disease:
• Overweight or obesity • High blood pressure • Diabetes • Physical inactivity • Family history (first degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has had a heart attack or stroke before age 50)
Step 2: Work to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Eat healthy Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Five servings a day is the recommended minimum, so aim even higher by making vegetables half of your meal. Lower your sodium intake by eating more home cooked meals, instead of fast food. Drink water, not soda or juice which is high in added sugars.
Be active Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week. That’s only around 20 minutes a day. You can make walking part of your routine. Try going for a walk and talking to a friend on the phone. Any activity that elevates your heart rate will improve your health and help lower your risk.
Manage stress Stress management is important for heart health. Eating healthy and staying active can help keep your stress levels down. Learn what triggers your stress and address it by slowing down and engaging in meditation or breathing exercises.
Step 3: Always look for the signs of a heart attack
According to the American Heart Association, women are somewhat less likely than men to experience chest pain. Instead, they are more likely to experience:
Pressure or tightness in the chest
To learn more about heart disease in women, please click on the links above. Additional resources include the following links: