5 Ways Black Men Can Prioritize Sanity as an Act of Self-Care

Photo by Cassandra Hamer

Who knew that Grand Master Flash and Furious Five’s 1982 hit, The Message, would still be so relevant today? With the uncertainty of COVID-19, the housing market stressing folks out, and the general ghetto nature of adulthood, it is clear why some people seem so close to the edge. When Flash and Furious Five admonished people not to push them because they were close to the edge, I don’t think they knew they would be speaking the sentiments of those for generations to come. Although the lyrics were foretelling for a larger segment of humanity, its sentiment rang truer for Black men.

The 80s were a time of uncertainty, pandemics, problematic presidents (hey, Ronald Reagan), and social unrest. Flash and the Five made a point to speak to the times and create a piece of art that could resonate with the culture and give language to Black men who may have felt the same way. Today, the world looks oddly similar and some Black men still depend on cultural figures to help define emotion and determine the right amount of vulnerability.

Throughout history, it's been long evident that men have not felt safe to be emotional, share the pain and beauty of their experiences, or even exist outside of any perceived societal pressure that tells them how they should be. As a result, some men struggle with how to navigate life the perfect way. Here’s the gag: there is no perfect way!

Dear brothers, the human experience is beautifully flawed, and it is okay not to have it all figured out. Breathe that out for a moment. Repeat it: it is okay not to have it all figured out. Protecting your sanity means understanding what Flash meant by being too close to the edge but finding the strength to back the hell up to save yourself. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your peace while navigating the complexities of life.

Say No

No is a complete answer and deserves no explanation. Men often feel the need to “be there” for everyone, even at the expense of their health and wellbeing. That’s not the vibe. How can you pour out of an empty cup? Saying no means finding space to prioritize yourself even at the temporary inconvenience of someone else. Guess what? They will live, and you will find better use of that time and those resources to pour back into yourself.

Invest in a Hobby

What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Is there a specific thing you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time to do it? Think through those questions, and if you have an answer – pursue it. If you don’t have an answer, sit with that, and begin to think through your passions and the things that bring you joy. People need an outlet outside of their responsibilities. Be intentional about engaging in activities that bring you joy and elevate your peace, and if you don’t have an idea, get lost in the process of discovering that joyful space. Once you have it, invest in it. Take a class, book the trip, attend the conference, or whatever it takes to make sure this centered space is something that takes up real space in your life—and be bullish about prioritizing it.

Pamper Yourself

It is often said that when you look good, then you feel good. And, if you feel good, then you’ll do (insert activity) good. A fresh haircut is like t