Strengthening Emotional Wellness to Fight Minority Stress using the BEACH method
Written By Sasha Cory-Pack, M.Ed, MMFCT
Being a part of a minority group can result in both internal and external stress. Experiences like discrimination, financial stress, and social rejection can take their toll on how we feel about ourselves and interact with others. If you are part of the diverse community in Nashville, you may have had some of these difficult experiences. Emotional wellness is our ability to feel and express a range of human emotions. These include happiness, sadness, and even anger. Emotional wellness, like physical wellness , adds to our resilience and helps us deal with difficult things when they happen. Emotional Wellness is an active process, rather than something we have no control over, like so many of the other things that stress us. This means that we have the ability to take actions that will directly improve our emotional wellness. This can include individual therapy, group therapy, and self care.
Times of crisis, like the recent incidents in Nashville and around the world, can be a time for us to tune into ourselves and remember to take steps that strengthen and improve how we handle our emotions. We can also care for ourselves on a daily basis, so that we are prepared when difficult things happen. While self care and strengthening emotions is important for all people, it’s especially important for people with marginalized identities to affirm themselves on a regular basis. Emotions are a necessary part of the human experience, even those we may perceive as negative, such as fear, anxiety and anger. They are like signals to our mind and body that help us tune into what we need. When we don’t listen to them and they become impaired, they can cause negative consequences. We can turn them on ourselves, resulting in depression, or on other people, resulting in aggression.
Strengthening our emotional wellness can help improve our positive outlook and ability to connect with others. Although we can’t always control what is happening to us, or even what emotions are coming up in response to a given situation, we can control our perceptions. This can mean adopting a more mindful attitude toward our emotions before they get out of control. It’s often our thinking about the situation that causes a long lasting disturbance, along with our resistance to allowing ourselves to feel certain emotions. You may be wondering what it would look like to tune in to your emotions. Here are a few steps to help you do that. Find a safe space to practice! This gets easier the more you do it!
- BREATHE Breathe and center yourself -inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for 3-5 breaths
- EMOTIONS Ask yourself what emotion you are feeling
- ANSWER Wait for the answer. Don’t try to “fix” it, or turn it into a more “acceptable” emotion.
Hint: Many people have trouble with the emotions of anger or sadness
- CHOOSE Make the choice to focus on the parts of this situation you can change. Ask yourself what is available to you right now to ease your feelings of discomfort. Safety? Affection? Support? Rest?
- HELP Give yourself what you need, or identify people in you support system who will help.
If you need support with learning to understand and regulate your emotions or deal with minority stress, Works Counseling is here to help you. We can help you work through your emotions, identify your needs, and take steps to build a healthy support system.