Improve Your Own Mental Health by Chelsetia Davis It took a long time to accept that I suffer from depression and anxiety and that there's no pill, therapist or person that can change that but myself. I've had a therapist since I was 13, which has been great, but ultimately, I'm responsible for ensuring that I'm mentally stable. In the African-American community, we sometimes overlook our mental health because we’re consumed with other problems. And while it may seem like an easy thing to overlook, mental health is essential to living a happy life. To me, good mental health means actually wanting to get out of bed in the morning and tackling the challenges I normally find overwhelming. To achieve this, I put a lot of effort in maintaining my mental health. This can take a lot of time, but for me, it’s been worth it. Self-care no longer feels like something I’m spending a lot of time on—it just feels like a normal part of my routine. Here are a few things I try to do daily to maintain and improve my mental health: Do Something That Makes You Happy Find something that brings you joy and do it as often as you can. For me, it’s creative writing—blogs, poetry, even papers for school. I also enjoy horseback riding. If I could own a horse, I would! It’s important to have a passion or activity you know will make you feel good even on your dark days. Try Something New Branching out helps keep things fresh. It can also be an investment in yourself. For example, I decided to become a pescatarian, which forces me to try new foods and explore new sections of the grocery store. After a trip to Jamaica, I now love fried plantains, breadfruit, red snapper, bulla cake and fresh coconut water. I’m not sure I would have tried those things if not for my new eating style. On my next trip, I want to pet a stingray, go on a bamboo raft and water ski. Be Around Positivity and Encouragement Surround yourself with people who think positively and have goals. The energy of others can have a large impact on how you feel. I recently joined a bloggers club, which is helpful because I meet people who are trying to accomplish similar goals. And we celebrate our achievements, no matter if they’re big or small. Manage Stress Meditation and exercise are effective ways to manage stress. After meditating, I’m usually more results-orientated and less tense. Exercising allows you to shift your focus from your mind to your body. It also relieves some of the physical tension caused by stress. Talk to a Professional Talking to someone who has no bias can be beneficial, because they can provide objective support. They can also offer problem-solving and coping techniques. For me, talking to a therapist has given a lot of insight into my depression and anxiety. I realized I wasn’t alone and in fact, a lot of the stress I had was self-inflicted—which meant I had the power to help myself. Being told that I suffered from depression and anxiety started off as a somber journey. I thought it meant something was wrong with me. However, once I learned that I was in control of my mental health, I began to use these tools in order to enjoy the beauty of life. Chelsetia Davis is a lifestyle blogger who seeks to empower her readers to be honest about their experiences which leads to self-acceptance. Checkout her website richgurlpoorgurl.com. Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.