The year is just starting but many of us are still feeling the affects of the last few years in a way that can be hard to shake. If you’re feeling less than your best at the start of this year, that’s completely fine and you are definitely not alone. The winter blues mixed with extended COVID anxiety has many of the girls wanting a chance to get away and forget it all. It is important that we honor all of our emotions, even the ones that are not full of light. The reality of life is that sometimes it’s just…tough. As Black women, we aren’t always given the space to experience our feelings fully. We are told taught to be strong and unmoving—we learn to push down anything that would cause us to seem weak. And we do ourselves a world of disservice as a result. In an effort to unlearn the programming that brought us to the “strong Black woman” trope, we should all make an effort to lean into the tender parts of ourselves. However, there’s a fine line between feeling the feels and letting them take over our lives. When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to let your mind convince you that this will last forever. So, it’s important that you find a delicate balance between wallowing in self-pity and honoring your present emotions. 

If you’ve got the blues, stay away from these seven things. 

Sad music. 

It may be tempting to listen to music that supports your mood but this is one of the ways we can prolong our current state of sadness. Ditch your sad girl tunes and opt for your “I’m a bad b****” playlist instead. Upbeat tunes will help you to find a sliver of joy that you can hold onto. 

Rehashing bad memories with friends. 

When we’re down, we can sometimes need to talk through things and that’s ok. But constantly rehashing the events that have made you feel bad is a great way to stay in the cycle of sadness. Try calling friends and talking about other topics to help keep your mind off of your immediate feelings. You may find that after a good kiki, your mood has improved. 

Negative self-talk. 

When your spirit feels defeated, it’s much easier for negative thoughts to have their way with your psyche. Self-blame and a hyperactive inner critic can do more damage than good when you’re already in a fragile state of mind. Try saying affirmations aloud via guided meditations or write some for yourself to combat any harmful mind chatter. 

Eating too much bad food. 

It’s totally normal to reach for comfort when you’re feeling down. This is definitely not the time to deny yourself any pleasures but going overboard on your favorite junk foods can ultimately make you feel worse. As many of us are working towards our fitness and nutrition goals, a week or so of overindulgence can end up leading us to a defeated frame of mind. Allow yourself a few of your favorites but monitor how much you allow yourself to have. 

Self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol. 

Listen, we all have those “I need a drink” days but this is another activity that can, ultimately, end up making our outlook even more bleak. Alcohol is a downer and can amplify feelings of desperation, sadness and loneliness. It can also zap our energy supply and keep us from doing the things that could possibly make us feel better. Instead of stocking up on your favorite wine, get out and have a few glasses—you’re less likely to go overboard that way. 

Skipping rest. 

Sometimes, when we are really at our lowest points, sleep can be hard to come by. We may find ourselves staying up late and binging shows to keep ourselves distracted or even doom scrolling on social media in an effort to feel some sense of connection. Try prioritizing rest when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make a real effort to put yourself to bed at night by unplugging from your devices and reaching for help via CBD, melatonin and other sleep enhancers. 

Skipping meals. 

Just as overeating is cause for concern, under eating can also exacerbate negative emotions. It may be hard to eat when things are not the way you’d prefer but skipping meals will only make your body work overtime to keep you afloat. Try opting for fresh fruit and veggies throughout the day if full meals seem too hard to stomach. Your body will thank you for it and it will become easier to turn your mood around.