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How To Create A Mental Health Self-Care Toolkit

Updated: 19 hours ago

If the pain began inside of us, then freedom from our pain also exists inside of us. ☥ Dr. Phyllis SHU Hubbard ☥

A Black man with a toolkit.

Most of us recognize the importance of the tools needed for everyday living. We take the time to invest in a wide array of tools such as computers, cars, pens, silverware, hammers, screwdrivers, rulers and so much more. We collect these tools and keep them in our homes, cars, purses, backpacks, etc. because we know that at some point we will need these tools to help us solve a problem. I refuse to leave my home without a tube of lip balm in my purse, and I'm serious about my lip balm. It must be organic with a certain list of ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

As a healer, I have often marveled over our willingness to shop for, try out/on, investigate, experiment with and learn how to use these tangible tools. Yet, we give little or no time/attention to cultivating the intangible tools needed to solve mental, emotional and spiritual challenges. How do we demystify and heal our emotions in order to stay mentally fit?

How To Demystify ☥ Heal Our Emotions on PHYLLISHUBBARD.COM

When was the last time that we asked ourselves the following?

☥ What tool do I use at the onset of a traumatic event?

After many years of grappling with ways to help people become aware of this missing link so that they can heal and rebalance their lives, I coined the term "mental health self-care toolkit" which I define pluralistically:

The 'mental health self-care toolkit' is a series of customized counterstrategies that we implement to acknowledge, process and heal mental, emotional and spiritual challenges.

People often put me on a pedestal, as if I were born a peaceful, yet energetic body whisperer. The truth is that I practice Qigong because I tend to be extremely driven in the pursuit of excellence which can lead to anxiety and impatience. Daily Qigong practice is one of my primary mental health self-care tools. Because I accept myself as I truly am (darkness and light), I can celebrate the areas where I'm rocking it in life and strengthen the areas needing improvement without hesitation or shame.

Although we can have up to 60,000 thoughts per day, they are mostly the same thoughts as the day before and 80% of those thoughts are negative. Where do these negative regurgitated thoughts come from? Is our mind running on default? If we don't know how to use a specific computer program, choosing the default software may be a good way to start. However, allowing our minds to run on default can lead to poor choices that brings cyclical pain, grief and trauma into our lives because we are not addressing our challenges at their root cause. A person who has a mind running on default might say:

I had a rough day; I need a drink!

I’m sorry you didn’t make the team, here, have some ice cream.

I have a headache; I need an aspirin.

These statements are problematic because:

☥ After the drink, we have weakened our liver with alcohol and neglected to solve the

challenges that arose from our "rough day."

☥ After the ice cream, we are now full of calories that we need to work off, on a downer

from the sugar rush and have no strategy for improving ourselves so that we can

make the team the next time the opportunity presents itself. This mode of default

thinking is especially harmful when we teach it to our children because they quickly

learn to pacify themselves with an addictive substance, such as sugar, which could

set them up for addictions/addictive behaviors later in life.

☥ After the aspirin wears off, our headache returns, which could have been caused by

factors that have nothing to do with taking an aspirin such as hunger, dehydration,

toxins in the colon, improper breathing, lack of movement, etc.

The drink, ice cream or aspirin may temporarily pacify us, but when the problem returns we often fail to recognize that our running takes us right back to our original challenge because we continue to engage in distracting behaviors. If this cycle continues, our bodies will gradually become weaker, our mind becomes dull, we'll gain weight, our pain will increase - which causes more distractions - and we still will not have solved our challenges.

This blind, unconscious reach for something to anesthetize ourselves is at the root cause of imbalances in our mental, emotional and spiritual lives. Would we be willing to commit to another set of behaviors that allows us to acknowledge and process pain as it occurs without becoming overwhelmed?

Getting Off The Gerbil's Wheel

A solution that will help us get off of the gerbil's wheel would be to develop a mental health self-care tool kit based on our unique personality and tendencies. Suggestions can include, but are certainly not limited to:

☥ Seeking professional counseling from a mental health practitioner such as a

☥ Calling a trusted friend when you feel emotional angst

☥ Having positive affirmations around the house and with you at all times

☥ Taking a walk for at least five minutes, when feeling off balance, preferably in nature

The Power Of The Non-negotiable Daily PracticeI like to call this the MDPP: Minimum Daily Personal Practice. The MDPP is the minimum amount of time that we are willing to actively engage in our own self-care. It is important that we start slowly and increase our MDPP over time. Suggestions can include:

☥ Upon waking up in the morning, commit to connecting with yourself first before connecting with outside stimuli

☥ Practicing breathing exercises throughout the day

☥ Taking the time to stretch after 40 minutes of sitting

☥ Practicing eye exercises in the morning, during Qigong, Yoga or meditation and after

20 minutes of looking at a computer screen

☥ Developing a morning routine

When In Pain … Reframe!  

When we feel challenged, it is important for us to be honest with ourselves through the use of accurate expression. “I am sad” is not true because it doesn't reflect our identity. "I am Phyllis SHU, and in this moment, I feel sad" is a true statement. I can’t stand the pain” is not true because if we couldn't stand the pain, we would be in too much pain to make the statement. “I can barely stand the pain" is a truer reflection of how we feel.

We can then breathe into our true feelings and sit with them until they begin to dissipate. Thoughts about the past are not real because the past is now dead. Thoughts about the future are not real because no one can know the future. Drop unreal thoughts by acknowledging the illusions and choosing to practice mental healing strategies.

A Pain Release Exercise To Explore When we pay attention to a rhythm happening inside us in the present moment, we relax our bodies and calm our minds. Try the following heart meditation exercise and consider adding it to your mental health self-care toolkit:

☥ Do a relaxing breathing exercise for a few minutes

☥ Listen for the sound of your heartbeat

☥ Reframe thoughts so that they reflect reality. We are not our pain, but we can

acknowledge feeling and processing pain. Acknowledge what is real.

☥ Search your body for where you think the pain is located.

☥ Touch the spot where you feel pain and take a slow deep breath. Hold the breath for

a few seconds and release.

☥ The next time you inhale, feel as if you were inhaling into the pain.

☥ As you exhale, press in slightly.

☥ Each time you inhale, reconnect with the spot of pain and each time you exhale

press in slightly. You'll notice that the pain will start to shift. You may need to move

your fingers around to find the discomfort as it moves out of your body. Repeat this

process until the pain shifts or moves.

The Saboteur Of The Knee Jerk Reaction

We can rid ourselves of this formidable saboteur by taking the time to pause and taking a long slow deep breath in and out before choosing a response (or if deeply upset, walk away and spend some time in contemplation before choosing an appropriate response). This is a simple, yet powerful technique in theory, but can be very difficult to access in real life situations without a dedicated, consistent practice. Then, take the time to look deeply within ourselves while developing an ever-evolving spiritual practice (that must also include nourishing our bodies) which would enable us to heal/release past traumas and monitor, set and enforce healthy boundaries with ourselves and others. When in doubt:

Breathe, pause, then speak.

Breathe, pause, then act.

Breathe, pause, then choose your thoughts. We may think that our thoughts are

randomly infecting us, but if we slow down long enough, we’ll realize that we are

actually choosing our thoughts. If a thought is yours to choose, why not choose an

empowering thought this time?

Mental Health Resources

The shareable links below offer a wide array of resources through breathing, movement, lifestyle habits and counseling to assist you in your mental health self-care toolkit journey:


Systemic racism is the most fundamental social determinant of Black mental health ... after the death of George Floyd, it has become clear that individuals do not have to experience racism directly in order for it to affect them. ☥ Kevin Dedner ☥ CEO & Founder Of Hurdle

Whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong. Lao Tzu

Self-Care is like a treasure map that leads us to the truest part of ourselves.

Epilogue ☥ Your Treasure Map For Self-Care

Thank you for taking the time to actively engage in your own self-care. If you have ever spent time at a hammam ☥ steam room ☥ sauna, you will notice that it is a comfortable space because you are wearing minimal or no clothing and you can just be yourself. However, after a short time, it starts to get hot, and you begin to sweat. This is a good thing because you are helping your body to eliminate toxins. If you want to detoxify your body correctly you will:

☥ Breathe slowly and deeply to help your body adjust to the intensity of the heat.

☥ Sip water every 15 minutes to stay hydrated.

☥ Have a piece of fruit ☥ pumpkin seeds ☥ favorite healthy snack available.

☥ Take a shower after excessive sweating.

☥ Go into a cold room/take a cold plunge/cold water rinse off to cool down before doing

another sweat and to stimulate your lymphatic system.

☥ Go for a walk in nature, spend time in meditation ☥ contemplation, have a healthy meal

and give your body some time to complete the healing process (which could include

sending you messages through your intuition about your next steps).

As you journey through ☥ interact with the blogs ☥ other content on, you might have an insight that causes you to suddenly feel mentally ☥ emotionallyhot” -- which could show up as:

☥ “Ah-ha” moments

☥ A hop-in-the-bed-and-cry-yourself-to-sleep or fetal position crying time of intensive


☥ Intense feelings of anger/regret about something in your past

☥ Disorientation caused by the realization of truth

Strong reactions such as heightened senses, vomiting; an urge to release emotions

such as yelling/screaming, going outside for fresh air/to take a walk, punching a

boxing bag/pillow; a feeling of tightness in the chest, etc.

When we face ☥ transcend our challenges, they no longer have power over us.

If you find yourself having a strong reaction, I encourage you to flow with it while helping your body to release mental ☥ emotional toxins by using the same five self-care strategies listed above for releasing physical toxins. Your body talks to you all the time, but unconscious adherence to social conditioning can mute its messages.

Strong reactions are your body’s way of letting you know that there is a deeper issue requiring your attention.

Keep revisiting the content ☥ utilizing the five self-care strategies until you no longer experience the strong reaction, release fears and have identified ☥ transformed ☥ removed the root cause of the issue. You will find additional strategies throughout this website that you can add to your mental health self-care toolkit.

Self-Care Sustainability Suggestions

A Cross-Cultural Healing Haven – read this blog to understand the purpose of and the meaning behind its organization ☥ symbols.

☥ Revisit the content periodically and make a note of if/how your perceptions have

evolved. Check out our blog page for an experiential healing journey.

☥ Check out the other pages on

Home - watch the videos. Click on the images in the Spiritual Guidance

section. Each image has a story that might assist your self-care journey. Learn

about other spiritual practices.

About - Learn about my background ☥ reasons for co-creating

with Spirit. Explore healing through the image carousel and videos.

Shop Kamitology - Purchase and download vital tools for your personal growth

☥ development.

Reclaiming Our Humanity - Help us develop and disseminate video courses.

Rise TV - Practice breathing and movement exercises and deepen your

understanding of healing through the experiences of community members.

Check back periodically to discover new/re-experience the content.

Journey - This is your invitation to own the journey to radiance. Experience the

journey and download healing resources to share with your friends, family and


When you share healing, healing comes back to and flows through you.

About Sharing ...

During my first presentation to an all-Black audience, I introduced 20-year-old research on the hazards of sitting. I presented the research because I noticed that people sat for way too long at convenings and realized that the information was not disseminated to Black ☥ Indigenous ☥ Immigrant communities. I was determined to intentionally include this research, often surprising participants by getting people up to stretch. After more than 13 years of intentional work, Black ☥ Indigenous ☥ Immigrant People are just barely beginning to normalize conscious movement. We still have a long way to go, and it is important that we share what we know as much as we can to prevent the disenfranchisement of wellness information to Black ☥ Indigenous ☥ Immigrant communities.


Copy/Paste Version Of A Full Citation Example: 

Hubbard, P. S. (2020, September 27). How To Create A Mental Health Self-Care Toolkit. PHYLLISHUBBARD.COM. <>

Please do not keep to yourself. We will not co-create a better world until we heal our current, past/childhood traumas. We will not love others until we learn to love ourselves.





About Dr. Phyllis SHU Hubbard's work as a Health Warrior


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