A Black Women’s Guide to Wellness

Working it out – Spirit, Mind, and Body
On an airplane, the flight attendant might tell you, in case of emergency put on your mask first and then put on your child’s mask. You might ask, what does this have to do with me?  The message behind the airplane scenario is that you need to help yourself first and then you can effectively help others.  As black women, some songs that we sing and life lessons that we are taught are about being strong and independent.  There is nothing wrong with this, however, when we don’t have the proper balance of attending to our Spirit, Mind, and Body, it often causes a lot of stress and chaos. 

Faith

The majority of black women were raised in the Church. There are keys to having a successful faith life.  Attending a church that doesn’t compromise the Word of God helps to lift your spirit and gives you a source of strength. As a Christian, this has helped my outlook on life because there is hope in Jesus Christ. Another tool that will help you is to read and study the Holy Bible.  The book of Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it is plainly spoken and contains wisdom about everyday living. Reading and meditating in the Bible will help you to better understand when God is speaking to your inner voice.

Mind

As black women, we are taught to be the source of strength in our families.  We want to be the best mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, and grandmothers that we can be. Some black women are single mothers who have to hold down a job while trying to assume the role of both mother and father.  While all of these roles are important, we must take the time to take care of our own mental health.  I recommend reading the book Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer if you want to have the resilience to deal with life.  This book can be purchased in my store, just click on the Amazon widget on that page. 

The Human Body: Health Illnesses and Issues 

Fibroids 

Black women are 3 times more likely to have fibroids than white women.  Fibroids are lumps that grow on the uterus. They are benign (non-Cancerous).  Fibroids usually occur between the ages of 30 and 40.   Some symptoms of fibroids are pressure on the bladder and/or rectum,  numerous trips to the bathroom, constipation, lower back and/or abdominal pain, changes in your menstrual cycle like severe pain and cramping, heavy menstrual flow, and menstrual cycles that are long. Also,  coming on your period many times during the same month may be because of Fibroids. 

How to Treat Fibroids 

If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor to find out if you have fibroids.  Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and oral birth control pills can lighten periods and decrease pain.  Exercising regularly may eliminate your chance of having fibroids.  If these remedies don’t work your doctor may be able to prescribe other medications that can help.  Fibroids that result in heavy menstrual cycles may cause anemia.  Eating iron-rich foods like poultry, leafy greens, and iron-fortified bread and cereals will help with anemia.  Taking iron supplements can also help with anemia.  

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when tissue that normally grows in the uterus starts to grow in other parts of your body. Some symptoms of endometriosis include severe menstrual cramps, pain during intercourse, pain in the lower part of your back, Infertility, and abnormal bleeding before your period, when using the toilet, or after sex.  Women at risk for endometriosis are:  women in their 30s and 40s with no children, females that have periods that last 8 days or more, and females who start their period before age 12. 

How to Deal with Endometriosis    

1. Write down when you had the pain, and rate the intensity of the pain on a scale of 1-10, For example, 1 being the least pain you have and 10 being the worst pain you have. Bring this journal to your doctor, so that you and your doctor can discuss treatment options.
2. Don’t eat soy-based products 
3. Limit the intake of milk the week before your period and during your period. It can cause cramps.
4. Try taking Blackstrap Molasses during your periods to help with the cramps 
5. Avoid eating a lot of products containing sugar to help with mood during menstrual cycles 
6. Eat some chocolate during your period to help keep you in a more relaxed state

Breast Cancer 

Breast Cancer happens when a person’s own cells multiply out of control in the body.   Breast cancer can cause a lump on your breast, an abnormal, and mammogram. Another potential sign would be calcium deposits that spread to the lymph nodes or to other organs.  Breast cancer can happen in both men and women. Different types of breast cancer can grow at different rates. Some may take years to grow and spread while some types grow and spread rather quickly. Risk Factors for breast cancer can be age or a family history of breast cancer.  A female whose mother or sister has had breast cancer would be two to three times more likely to have breast cancer. 

The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 sometimes result in breast cancer.  Your doctor should be able to tell you if you have these cells and have breast cancer. About 1 in 200 women with these genes may have breast cancer.  Women over the age of 50 are more likely to have breast cancer than younger women.  Black women are more likely to get breast cancer than white women before menopause. Also the more a woman is exposed to estrogen, the more likely they are to have breast cancer.   Mammograms should be done at least every year for women over the age of 40 and for women who have a family history. Early prevention is key to helping to deal with Breast Cancer.  Statistics show that 8% of women who have screening mammograms will have abnormalities.  These women may need to have a diagnostic mammography, needle biopsy or breast ultrasound.  Statistics show that 10% of women who have additional testing will have breast cancer.  For more reading on Breast Cancer, visit the online Breast Cancer Center. 

Cervical Cancer 

Having HPV can result in having Cervical Cancer, cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and cancer in the back of the throat. including the base of the tongue and tonsils.  Cervical Cancer mainly comes from Human Papillomavirus or HPV.  HPV is a group of 150 related viruses.  Of the 150 related viruses, each one is given a number.  There are more than 40 HPV types that can be caught by women and men. A woman can be infected with HPV through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, even if the sex is with one exclusive partner. 

Both men and women can have HPV.  If the person that you are having sex with has HPV, you can still be infected.  A man or woman can have HPV and it may take years before the symptoms show. HPV that causes genital warts is not the same as the type of HPV that results in a person having cancer.   

How to Deal with HPV/Cervical Cancer 

You can get an HPV vaccination.  It is recommended that boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 get vaccinated.  You can still catch up if you are older than 12 because men up until age 21 and females up until age 26 can get a catch-up vaccination. Women 21-65 can get screened and help prevent cervical cancer.  The treatment for cervical cancer is surgery, radiation therapy, chemoradiation, and chemotherapy.  Talk to your doctor to discuss your options.  If you have Cervical Cancer and HPV, talk to friends and family to get support. For more information about cervical cancer or other types of cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute and WebMD online. 

Skin Care 

A healthy skincare routine includes a cleanser, astringent, and a moisturizer to use daily on your face.  Keeping your entire body moisturized can be done by using a rich moisturizing lotion.