The Importance of Mental Health & Wellness
COVID-19 has definitely caused many of us to restructure our plans. This past March Substantial had the chance to sit down with Deborah J. Sheppard of Greenville and talk to her about how COVID-19 has changed her life.
A servant’s heart is deep and passionate. Most people with this empathetic, soul-centered persona can find it difficult to balance their day to day activities without feeling the need to do something to give back. Deborah J. Sheppard is no exception to the rule. As a survivor, author, advocate, and motivational speaker, Sheppard spends a lot of her time building solid relationships and uncovering new ways that she can give back to her community in a positive way.
While most were trapped inside their homes during COVID-19 spending their days aimlessly binging on television and junk food, Sheppard has taken the time to be introspective – focusing on wellness during the virus and planning her next set of projects. Many of these conversations about health and overall disparities in the minority community do not emerge until there is some sort of crisis, but Sheppard is urging her community to make these conversations an ongoing priority. When asked what people can do to start thinking differently about their health and wellbeing, she replied, “I just plea with my minority community to be more mindful about what we put in our bodies and work to lead healthier lifestyles, not only physically but mentally and spiritually to reduce our levels of stress. While being home, boredom strikes and many have begun to drink more than usual to pass the time, and I caution against that because the goal is to keep our immune systems strong”. In order to see real change and build equity in minority communities, we must keep these conversations going well beyond the end of quarantine. Sheppard is committed to doing her part to make sure those conversations happen.
Like many small businesses, creatives are now being tasked with finding innovative ways to keep their activities going and keep their audiences engaged. There is this daunting pressure for creatives to produce things for their community on a consistent basis. The looming effects of COVID-19 such as isolation and limited resources often leave creatives at a loss for when, where, and how to launch (or relaunch) their products and services. But Sheppard has been determined to stay motivated and remain focused on releasing projects that uplift and empower her community. Having had several projects pushed back due to the virus, her focus is now on creating online campaigns that will keep her audience engaged. Part of this involves relying heavily on social media campaigns that will allow her to offer products like her upcoming book to an even broader online audience. The beauty in this shift is that it will allow readers to have a deeper connection with her even though physical travel has been restricted.
As someone who has consistently spread messages of hope and empowerment, Sheppard believes in feeding her own soul just as much as she feeds others. Focusing on mental health and soul-centered activities is high on her list of priorities these days. With so many people flocking to social media, things can get crowded and misconstrued. Sheppard urges people to be diligent about what outlets you are consuming content from, as well as how often you are engaging with others online. The author and motivational speaker warns that social media comes with “loads of misinformation which can cause stress, and social media can distract people at times from working on their mental health and spiritual well-being”. She shares that she has put a lot of time into meditation and self-help, and suggests that people take part in activities such as painting or dancing, and well as online therapy groups. She wants people to know that they are in control of the narrative as it pertains to how they navigate through COVID-19. She is working tirelessly to encourage people not to feel pressured or influenced by what they see others doing. Our journey will not always be the same as our neighbor. Our activities do not have to be in unison with others. It is perfectly okay to take time for yourself and figure out how you want your “new normal” to look. Sheppard says she hopes that this time will help people become reacquainted with themselves and fall in love with who they are.
Deborah J. Sheppard is a survivor, author, advocate, and motivational speaker. She is widely known for her strength, courage, and commitment to spreading awareness about child abuse and domestic violence.
Facebook (Personal): Deborah J Sheppard
Fan Page: @IAmDeborahJ