May is the month of self-care at HOPE Center Harlem and to honor that this month, we have an interview with mental health and self-care advocate Minaa B who shares with us her journey to social work and how she practices self-care. She is a writer, therapist, wellness coach, mental health educator and a New York City native. Her core passions include social justice, community, mental health, and self-care. She teaches people how to cultivate self-care and self-advocacy through the lens of boundaries and community-care. Minaa B. graciously answered our questions and provided us with guidance and advice on self-care and HOPE.
1) You’re a New York native, would you mind telling me where you grew up?
– I grew up in Queens, NYC
2) Can you tell me a little about your journey to wellness and what drew you to mental health and social work?
– I became drawn to mental health work as a teenager and it was related to my own personal struggles with depression and anxiety. My first time seeing a counselor was in High School, and it was very empowering but also nurturing since I had a safe space to talk to someone without judgment or bias. This played a huge role in shaping my career path.
3) What does HOPE mean to you?
– When I think of having Hope, I think of moving forward, clinging to goodness, and pushing past doubt.
4) What inspires you to find hope? How do you stay motivated?
– I’m inspired to find hope through the things that I am passionate about such as writing, being around people with good energy, and being surrounded by nature. As for staying motivated, I don’t believe in staying motivated. I’m human so my emotions ebb and flow and I give myself permission to lean into my humanness. There are days when I am motivated and that is fueled by being engaged in things that bring me joy and having a routine, and there are days when I am not motivated, and I don’t judge myself for it.
5) What do you do to stay positive during these Covid times?
– I allow myself to feel what I feel. Some days I am positive and some days I am not, and I don’t judge or shame myself for it. The more I greet myself with self-compassion, the more I am able to manage the hurdles that have come with the pandemic.
6) How would you recommend connecting with community during this time of isolation?
– Get creative and find practical ways to engage with people. Be open to being flexible and create new norms and practices. If connecting in person, find ways to social distance, if connecting virtually, do something fun over the phone or through FaceTime instead talking to each person. Play a game, watch a show, cook or bake together, find your thing!
7) As a native New yorker, how do you manage self-care and community care as a person of color during these times as we see continual coverage of racial injustices here in New York and around the country, and how do you find hope in the midst of all of that?
– Honestly it can be hard to find hope sometimes in the midst of racial turmoil. There is a lot of grief, sadness and anger, but I remind myself that I have permission to feel those things and then I work through those emotions by engaging in some form of activism. When I am writing, teaching or even having a conversation with a friend about racial justice it empowers me to keep going.
We want to extend a huge thank you to Minaa B. for answering our questions and providing us with words of wisdom. To learn more about Minaa B. and her work you can visit her website https://www.minaab.com, find her on Instagram @minaa_b or twitter @MinaaBe.