by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 3, 2020 black therapist pittsburgh, microagressions, racism in america, systemic racism, therapy for racism pittsburgh0 comments
Dealing with Microaggressions as a Black Man
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland…these are just a few of the names that come to mind as I write this. These are the names of victims of police brutality and racial injustice. These were unwilling martyrs who fell prey to overt, unabashed, and unadulterated racism. This is a problem, but there is another issue that plagues people of color every day. An unseen layer of racial inequality that exists under our noses: microaggressions.
What is a microaggression, you ask? A microaggression is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype.” So when a stranger tells me that they don’t see color, or when someone raves that I am “surprisingly articulate” for a black man, they are using microaggressions, perhaps unknowingly. However minorities also use microaggressions. Phrases like “you sound white,” or being called an ‘oreo’ by peers (black on the outside, white on the inside) have been some of the microaggressions I have experienced from fellow people of color.
I can only speak from my personal experience, and I do not represent all people of color. However I know that when I encounter microaggressions, whether intentional or not, I find myself in a bind. Do I call it out, and risk being “that guy,” or do I brush it off, because at least it’s not as bad as what the victims above suffered? The events of the past week have shown me that silence in the face of microaggressions, only leads to further silence from possible allies when overt racism and racially motivated aggression takes place.
So what is the role of the black man or the person of color when facing microaggressions?
- Call it out for what it is. People may balk at this and respond with phrases such as “I’m not racist,” or “I have black friends,” but the truth remains, microaggressions are a result of racist history, and they are subtle ways of perpetuating negative stereotypes about black people and other minorities.
- Educate those within your circle. It surprises me that in the age of the internet, some people still are not aware of what may constitute a microaggression.
- Better yet, encourage those who are not sure to educate themselves. There are plenty of (free) resources out there for our friends and neighbors to learn and become better allies.
- Take care of yourself. One thing that has been made clear with all of the demonstrations lately, is that collectively, black people are tired. It is mentally and emotionally exhausting to navigate microaggressions, and process the overt racism that takes place in our country every day.
- Talk to someone. We cannot keep this stress bottled up. It helps to speak with a therapist or a trusted friend in order to process what we go through when we encounter microaggressions.
On a final note for everyone reading this, whether you experience microaggressions or not, do not stop talking about this. Talk to family, friends, neighbors, clergy, therapists. Talk, take action, and please take care of yourselves.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 2, 2020 best ways to build self care plan, mental health matters0 comments
We hear lots of people taking about self care these days but what actually is it? Is there a right way to do it? I hope to answer some of these questions for you today because mental health matters and you matter. Self care can be defined as any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Most of us are crazy busy, we have stressful jobs, are taking care of children or aging family members or are too consumed with technology to make time for ourselves. “Me time” is usually last on our agenda and we can often feel guilty about taking the time required to take care of ourselves. Self care is not selfish. We can’t take care of others well if we don’t take the time to care for ourselves and good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced stress and anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with ourselves and others. So, where do you start? It’s important to build a self care plan. Begin by sticking to the basics for now and overtime you’ll find a routine that works for you. Overtime, you can implement more and more specific items into your plan. In the meantime here are some basic principles of self care to help get you started:
- Eat right- the right foods can help improve memory, combat inflammation and promote good gut health. All of which can have a direct impact on your physical and emotional health. If you have questions or want to learn more about this consider setting up a consultation with a nutritionist.
- Sleep- make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, establishing a healthy bedtime routine can promote deeper and more restful sleep. Avoid sugar and caffeine before bed and help reduce distractions such as light and electronics in your bedroom
- Physical exercise- this can mean lots of different things for different people. This can be a walk with your family in the evening or by yourself at lunch, swimming, or yoga. The type of activity isn’t as important as choosing something you enjoy and can commit to your schedule
- Schedule time away- this can be as simple a taking a half day to spend at the park or an extravagant weekend getaway
- Take care of your spiritual needs- this can be attending religious services, meditation, prayer, spending time in nature or making a gratitude list
- Learning to say “no” and setting boundaries- this can mean you don’t check email after business hours, don’t attend events or gatherings that you don’t want to or don’t take on additional tasks that you don’t have the time or energy for
- Get organized- get a planner for tasks or appointments, this can be especially helpful in scheduling your self care time or spend time prepping lunches so you have more time in the morning for an extra cup of tea and some meditation
- Spend time with loved ones and people that are important to you
- Lastly if you work in a field with high burnout rates seek consultation and supervision from mentors and peers to help reduce stress
Self care will look different for everyone for some it’s getting up 15 minutes earlier to practice deep breathing or journaling before the day begins. For others it’s an evening run, but just like many other things self care takes practice. I challenge you to commit to adding one self care element to your schedule for 2 weeks and see the difference it makes in your life and relationships.
Written By: Nicole Monteleone, MA, LPC, NCC
If you are looking for a counseling center near you, reach out to our reception team monday through friday from 9-5 and we will be glad to get you an appointment with one of our licensed counselors in 4 convenient locations, Counseling Pittsburgh, Counseling Wexford, Counseling Monroeville, Counseling South Hills.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 18, 2019 family estrangement, family loss, holiday traditions0 comments
1o Ways to Enjoy The Holidays if You Experience Family Estrangement or Loss
Holidays are extremely triggering and difficult for those who have suffered family loss/grief or estrangement, there are reasons that mental health related hospital admisssions and therapy visits for anxiety and depression increase during this time of year. Most people who are in therapy to deal with family conflict or estrangement will spend some time forming a plan for how they will manage the holidays in anticipation of the challenges that they present. There is a hallmark sentiment that everyone else has it all together and is rejoicing in love with their near and dear and for those who do not have healthy or connected relationships with their families, they may notice the added burden of shame for this reality. The truth is family conflict and tension is very common and family estrangement is too, according to research published by Psychology Today, as many as 7-27% of parents and children report not having contact with each other. That means that 1 in 10 or 20 people you know can relate to the feeling of family estrangement. Additionally, if you reason suffered a loss or divorce, the mourning will likely increase this time of the year. Toxic relationships are a common reason for family estrangement, if your family members, have tried family counseling and still can not relate to you in a healthy way then there may be no choice but to limit contact or go no contact. Things like a history of abuse, lying, deception, emotional or physical attacking are healthy reasons to put safe distance and plenty of boundaries between yourself and family members.
Holidays are steeped in traditions that are centered around the family. During the rest of the year, it may be easier to cope with the reality of no or low contact, but the social implication that other people are connecting with family spending days and weeks off of work to gather around the table and reconnect, may make a person who is excluded from such family gatherings melancholy or wishful for something else that doesn’t exist. Here are expert verified ways to help;
- Ramp up your self care, practice more meditation, mindfulness, get appointments scheduled with your therapist.
- There is a stigma attached to being isolated and cast out from your family, that makes it less likely that those who are not in touch with relatives will talk about it and seek the support that they will need. Help starts when we break that stigma and open up to some close friends or coworkers about what you are experiencing.
- It is likely that there are people who will be excited to share this time of year with you, reach out to them and share your thoughts about feeling alone.
- Look at what traditions you can create for yourself?
- Can you organize a toy drive, or a food drive?
- Can you volunteer to visit a long-term care home?
- Can you volunteer at a soup kitchen?
- Can you mentor children?
- Can you organize a baking party with friends?
- Have you thought of taking a trip like a tropical vacation?
You will notice that many of these suggestions highlight being of service to others, this really is one of the best ways to lift yourself up. No matter what you decide, the holidays become a blank canvas for you to create whatever you might envision upon it. Only you can decide what is the best direction for you to maintain peace, mental wellness, and happiness during the holidays and the rest of the year and it is your sole job to protect your peace and wellbeing.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 30, 2019 self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing0 comments
Self-Care Strategies That Promote Positive Mental Well-Being
It’s safe to say most of us would rather be happy than unhappy. However, sometimes it’s easy to roll through life allowing your attitude to be shaped, rather than taking steps to increase your own happiness. With that in mind, read on for key self-care strategies you can add to your lifestyle that help promote positive mental well-being.
Stay Connected as a Couple
Are you in a long-term relationship? If so, you probably are well aware that all couples go through ups and downs, and sometimes intimacy can suffer during the down cycles. You might not feel very affectionate when times are tough, but Healthline points out that there are worthwhile health benefits associated with intimacy. For instance, hugging someone dear to your heart can lower your blood pressure, and kissing for just 30 seconds can boost dental hygiene. Beyond that, couples who are intimate on a routine basis lower risk for prostate cancer and heart disease, and they give their immune systems a lift.
One of the toughest times in life for many couples is the period following a baby’s birth. New parents are exhausted, and there may be periods when they feel the workload is unbalanced.
To keep things healthy and happy, consider setting aside time for one-on-one, routine date nights. If you can’t get out of the house, simply enjoying a movie and cuddling on the couch with your favorite healthy takeout can help you feel connected and close.
Gut Health for General Health
Are you familiar with the tiny world living inside your digestive tract? There are trillions of microscopic organisms that dwell inside your gut, and how well they are balanced can have a profound impact on your overall wellness.
As such, it’s important to read up on some key players in gut health; for instance, if your Akkermansia is low it can contribute to weight gain. Also, if you’re feeling stressed, more L. helveticus and B. longum might help you feel more relaxed.
Beyond those few, your metabolism, attitude, energy levels, immune function, and general digestion are just a handful of things directly affected by certain gut bacteria. Becoming more familiar with the various key players can help you identify issues and adjust your diet, or you can add a supplement as needed.
If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose
Sleep sometimes gets an undeserved reputation as a lazy, pointless activity. However, getting enough sleep each night can make a big difference in your well-being. There are benefits galore, from raised productivity to improved calorie regulation. It can help you ward off depression, lower your risk of heart disease, and improve your performance in the gym. While you sleep, your mind and body make repairs from the day before and prepare you for the next day, so ensure proper sleep hygiene is part of your self-care plan.
Tuck points out that sleep hygiene begins with a healthy bedtime routine. By doing the same thing to relax each night before bed, and by doing it at the same time, you condition your mind and body to recognize the signs that sleep is coming. Try spending some time meditating, sipping herbal tea, or listening to soothing music.
Also, address any issues with your sleep environment. Keep your room free of noise and distractions, aim for a cool temperature, and ensure the room is dark. Earplugs, adding a room air conditioner, and blackout curtains can make a big difference if you have ongoing issues.
Positive mental well-being is something all of us prefer, yet sometimes we struggle finding it. Staying connected with your partner, tending your gut health, and ensuring sufficient sleep can go a long way toward helping you feel better. Try making these simple self-care strategies part of your routine — you’re worth it!
Brad Krause, Self Caring Strategies.comLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 22, 2018 counseling, meditation, mindfulness, wellness, wellness pittsburgh, yoga0 comments
Be Your Own Beloved: Cultivating Self Care
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, 830 Western ave, Pittsburgh 15233
Saturday Feb 10, 10am
Being your own beloved means treating yourself with the same love and kindness as you would to a dear friend. Just like you cannot fill from an empty cup, you cannot fully love someone else until you love yourself. This Valentines Day, give yourself (and your partner) the gift of self-care.
Join Kayla Hersberger, yoga instructor, essential oil lover, and advocate for natural living in this seminar which will include;
A guided heart-opening meditation
A writing exercise (bring your journal!)
Tips for starting and maintaining a self-care practice
Instruction to self-massage with essential oils
We kindly ask for a $5 love donation to cover the cost of oils, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.Learn More