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  • Writer's pictureAllies in Caring

Six ways to prioritize your mental health in honor of Women’s History Month.

During tough times, it helps to stay healthy by remembering women who not only survived difficulties but made lasting art to document their insights. Make a new habit of taking a poem into your wellness time to help strengthen, resolve and support your health focus. Poetry is a medicinal reminder that we can determine our own mindset and these women poets do it well.

Celebrate your ability to survive and thrive: In “Won’t You Celebrate With Me?” by Lucille Clifton, you get to boldly celebrate your survival.

Calm, rest, recover: In Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Yellow Glove,” noticing nature’s cyclical offerings can teach us how to approach loss with a healthy mindset and keep an eye out for recovery of what we thought was lost.

Set healthy boundaries: In “Goodbye to Tolerance,” Denise Levertov declares that she has had enough of being neutral about things and rants with new limits on unhealthy toleration as complicity and invites the reader to join her on her path back to joy.

Develop your vision of a better world. Take time to journal and let your writing explore and validate your vision of a healthier You and a healthier world. Use the poem, “And When We Woke,” by Aracelis Girmay as a model poem to inspire you to free-write. “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelo is another inspirational model for this.

Find your belonging. Find your sense of belonging by identifying the type of poet you like. (Belonging to a maker-space for any type of craft helps this.) These young Latinx poetas each have a different voice, and all have a growing sense of validation and inclusion through poetry.

Accept and adjust: Realism and hope are friends. Invite both to your creative wellness party. You’re strong enough to hold both a clear-eyed view of recent struggles AND your will to manifest a safe and healthy lifestyle. Part of staying healthy is knowing at your core that you have a life to live that is free of continuous suffering. Keeping this north star of hopeful guidance at heart while staying realistic about the challenges at hand comes to life in the poem, “Grace,” by Joy Harjo.

If the realism of bad news dims hope, turn off the news, open your heart, and release your attention into a poem by a woman author during Women’s History Month…and all year round. It’s good medicine.

The above poems of resilience are available at the PoetryFoundation website. See Girmay’s poem and others here.

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