Members of the Fresh Creek Civic Association (FCCA) met virtually via Webex on Saturday afternoon, May 21st to discuss a number of issues like chronic flooding, the advantages of forming block associations and the desire to carve out space for a community center. Perhaps most pressing of all though was the issue of mental health and self-care, which has been on the forefront ever since the pandemic hit, and in many ways has become a crisis of its own.
FCCA President Maria Garrett invited community advocate and self-care expert, Lucina Clarke, to share some of her wisdom with the group. Clarke explained that mental health, like physical health, requires a person to invest in oneself. She said that so many people are used to serving others and putting other people first that they often forget to take care of themselves or worse, they actually feel guilty for taking time to focus on themselves. According to Clarke, the very key to mental health is spending time with and on yourself.
Clarke emphasized the importance of saying “no” sometimes and setting limits to avoid becoming overwhelmed and overextended and therefore stressed out. She suggested dropping people who do not add value to your life, people who don’t believe in you, people who bring you down and people who take but never give. She recommended spending time outdoors, going for a walk in Canarsie Park or simply sitting on a bench at Canarsie Pier where you can free your mind, release toxins and be in the presence of others.
Clarke also said that she could not overstate the importance of positive self-talk – the things we think to ourselves, about ourselves. She said that of all the opinions out there, our opinions of ourselves are the only ones that should matter, that we should feel worthy and strong. When we love ourselves, she said, we also love life and we will feel grateful each morning when we wake up to another day, advice that was well received by the group.