#SWAAYthenarrative

Margo Jefferson and the Leading Ladies Chairing the Artists' Table at the Women's March

Culture

It's been a long wait since November, but the time is finally here.


The march is on.

Co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Cameron Perez have been planning the march since election night and according to this video they have made it accessible, amenable and inclusive. Nobody will left behind, and those pregnant or with disabilities will be fully catered to.

Celebrity support for the marches has come in abundance. Given the overwhelming support for Hillary from Hollywood during the election - this comes as no surprise. Nevertheless, the displays of rigour and adamance for the women’s cause, especially Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes have been astonishing. Support for the march has been garnered through a variety of social media channels in a show of unity unparalleled since perhaps the Great March on Washington headed by Martin Luther King in 1963.

While the numbers indicate that on that day 70-80% of the attendees were African-Americans, this march is expected to be decidedly more diverse, given the support for the outgoing African-American president and the growth of feminism in the past decade. Both Mallory and Perez have been eager to promote the ideals of inclusivity and solidarity - this march is not about your race or gender, but about equality in the face of division.

Courtesy of womensmarch.com

We spoke to Pulitzer Prize winning author of Negroland Margo Jefferson today about walking in the march, and standing on the artists’ committee. When asked why she was going, Jefferson told us, “I’m going because I want – no, I need -- to see all kinds of women marching for all kinds of justice. All of us refusing to be belittled and assaulted. I’m on the Artists’ Committee and I’ll be with a group of artist friends – writers, actors, musicians.But I’ll be marching in tune and time with all kinds of strangers and that’s what excites me the most." she finishes, "That and the fact that this is just the beginning.”

"I need -- to see all kinds of women marching for all kinds of justice. All of us refusing to be belittled and assaulted." - Margo

Jefferson will be joined by America Ferrera who is scheduled to chair the artist’s table with a plethora of other entertainers and scholars that will head up the crowd before they start the walk toward the White House. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o has been very vocal of her support via social media channels, further proving the power of those like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to bring together the hundreds of thousands that will join in the marches throughout the country. In a tweet she says, “Proud to move with the @womensmarch this Jan 21st, raising my voice for honesty, truth, and compassion against injustice, lying and greed.”

Beyoncé has also voiced her support for the march on Facebook in an empowering declaration; "We raise our voices as mothers, as artists, and as activists," she wrote, "As #GlobalCitizens, we can make our voices heard and turn awareness into meaningful action and positive change.” A huge advocate of the Black Lives Matter campaign, and a major supporter of Clinton, the message resonates on a personal level with the singer, whose sister Solange kicked off the weekend’s women’s events with the Peace Ball on Thursday evening. The ball proclaimed itself an event for the ‘voices of hope and resistance,’ and an opportunity to take stock of this administration’s massive achievements over the past four years. It coincided with marches in New York attended by Alec Baldwin, Mark Ruffalo, and mayor Bill De Blasio that were mostly peaceful and encouraged the hundred-day peaceful resistance that begins today.

"We can make our voices heard and turn awareness into meaningful action and positive change." - Beyoncé

Courtesy of jmonae.com

Janelle Monae is among a group of musicians that make the inauguration’s line-up look like a child’s birthday party. In a statement announcing her participation she said, "I am honored to join this critical movement to bring justice and equality to all.” The artists’ table Monae joins is as diverse as many believe the march will be - with women and men of different races and ages coming together to promote togetherness the day after one of the most divisive inaugurations in the country’s history. And if every woman mentioned in this piece uses their social media to promote the march tomorrow - their reach will be over 100million people, not to mention the +200k due to attend.

March on, ladies.

5 min read
Health

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.