7 Self-Help Tools to Use When You’re Having A Tough Time
By Ja’miil Millar
Spending time tending to ourselves through difficult emotions is not always an easy process. It’s also something that you shouldn’t have to do alone, but it's important to recognize our inner capacity and the power we hold to make ourselves feel good.
With this considered, self-help tools can be a practical thing to incorporate into our lives both in response to woeful experiences and simply as a supportive habit.
Below is a list of books, podcasts and more resources that we can use to help ourselves;
**Disclaimer: These tools are not substitutes for mental health care, such as therapy. These are resources that the writer has used personally and has had positive experiences with.
The Homecoming Podcast by Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis
If you’re looking for advice from the voice of a soothing auntie, this is the podcast for you. Dr. Thema’s podcast is an insightful and validating facilitation on how to come home to yourself.
From tips on healing resentment to cultivating joy & play, these 30-ish minute episodes leave you feeling seen and held every time. I’d also suggest following @drthema on Instagram and Twitter - she often shares quotes, which I’ve found to be a really nice thing to come across while “mindlessly” scrolling.
Therapy for Black Girls Podcast by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
This podcast has over 170 episodes on topics dedicated and intentionally delivered to support Black women and girls. Topics have included, processing our collective grief, tips for taking up space, the impact of racial trauma and so so much more.
Dr. Joy even had us unpacking Issa and Lawrence’s relationship. If you know, you know. This podcast confirms the need for representation in mental health spaces.
We need you, Black therapists!
Focusing by Eugene Gendlin
Focusing is a book about a psychotherapeutic process of the same name, which was developed by psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin. The book talks about “an internal knowing,” which we often experience but may not have the words to describe or explain. Focusing as a process can be used to become clearer on these feelings.
I personally like to practice the concept when I feel like I can only refer to something as just feeling “off.” The book provides step-by-step how to practice the Focusing process. Focusing retails for around $11 but be sure to check out your local library to see if they have it first!
Getting Our Bodies Back by Christine Caldwell
This book shares transformative insights on our understanding of habitual behaviours like nail biting, fidgeting, etc. The book gives tools from the lens of body-centred psychotherapy, which I found to be really great to better understand how to be more present in my body and both shift my perspective through learning and unlearning why I may have certain habits.
Getting Our Bodies Back retails for just under $30, but again, it may be available at your local library!
The Liberate App (guided meditation app)
The practice of meditation and mindfulness is a great way to ground ourselves into the present moment. Whether it be a way to practice gratitude, to reflect or simply to process a body scan, we can utilize meditation as a tool to step away and care for our bodies.
For some, leading themselves through meditation can be difficult and that’s where guided meditation can come in. The Liberate App in particular is another intentional and dedicated tool that hosts a variety of free guided meditations for and by Black and racialized people.
There is also the option to unlock more meditations with a monthly or yearly fee-based subscription ($13.49 for the monthly or $95.99 for the year upfront, which works out to be $7.99 per month).
Black Girl In Om (Podcast)
As you probably can tell, I’m consistently looking and using tools that speak to my lived experience as a Black and racialized woman. I feel like that’s an important tool in itself, because a lot of the time, we write things off when in reality, they just weren’t made with us in mind.
Luckily, there are some great tools, such as this podcast that speak to the holistic and self-care needs of Black women. One of my favourite episodes is titled, “Womanist is to Feminst as Purple is to Lavender” Exclusivity in Wellness” - it talks about the inspiration and philosophies behind the podcast itself, through expressing why safe and exclusive spaces created by marginalized groups is so important.
This podcast was shared with me by a friend and on that note, share these tools with your friends! It really does help!
Journaling with prompts
Last but not least, the good old pen and paper. I tend to appreciate when people give me advice, but sometimes, it can be hard to take the advice when it’s kind of like “just write it out!” For me, the hardest thing about writing sometimes is simply finding the right words. That can be even more difficult when you may have a lot going on in your mind.
With that said, giving yourself the opportunity to brain dump by writing things out onto paper can be a great way to release. I like to use prompts as a way to push myself into ironing out what’s going on in my mind. Simply search on Google or Pinterest for some prompt inspirations and respond to the ones that resonate most with you.
Stay tuned for another blog post about some of our favourite prompts to use while journaling!
Next time you are faced with some difficult emotions, try any of these tools and above all else, give yourself compassion and grace throughout the wave. It may also be beneficial to get into the habit of using these tools on a regular basis, rather than only when you are at the peak of a tough time.