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  • Tapping into the Creative Soul of the Black Community for Mental Wellness

    Celebrating Black History month is good for mental health. The African American community is rich in opportunities to relieve stress and some symptoms of mental illness through non-verbal expression. Throughout history Africans and African Americans have always used innovative ways to articulate our inner world.

    Creatives such as Donny Hathaway and Nina Simone channeled their struggles with mental illness into musical master pieces that influenced millions. Contemporary rap lyrics continue to put words to feelings that are too complex for you to articulate on your own. Listening to the blues may provide you with a sense of understanding that you are not alone in your experience. Jazz uses instruments to speak beyond experiences that are bigger than any word. Look to gospel music to speak for you what you can’t articulate.

    Take a look at Black art and you may see a visual representation of your views, fears, dreams. There are some talented people who are able to combine color and texture to reflect and experience. If that’s you, or if you can just appreciate the process of creating get started and begin to tell your story via art. You can show it to your loved ones as a way to communicate or you can keep it to yourself and just savor the process.

    There is something freeing about creating a rhythm to express your inner world. Try drumming, a traditional African form of communication, to slow down a racing heart, lower your blood pressure, improve your focus. Concentrating on the beats is a distraction from current problems and may help you to think of new solutions. Joining a drumming circle can give you a sense of community and relieve feelings of loneliness without having to engage in conversation.

    Dancing is another form of expression that does not involve words. Watching the excellence of an Alvin Ailey performer or The Dance Theatre of Harlem produces a feeling of euphoria, pride and inspiration. Movement is a form of expression that uses the whole body to convey a message and release frustration, anxiety, anger, and sadness. Participating in your own dance in the privacy of your own home, through a dance class or participation in soul line dancing can receive muscle tension, improve your health. Dance your cares away at least for a little while. Human experiences encompass a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, despair, and fear. While these feelings contribute to personal growth, unexpressed emotions can lead to unproductive rage, depression, increased worry, and physical conditions. Recognize that not all expressions need to be verbal; some emotions are beyond words. Tapping into the creative resources within the Black community can boost self-esteem, improve health, and ease the mind. Exploring your rich cultural heritage is essential for maintaining good mental health.