Coping For The Best: How To Manage Mental Health During Social Unrest & A Global Pandemic

Boston residents dance and sing along to, "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" as the James Brown song plays during a Coalition of Black Youth march from Nubian Square to Boston City Hall on June 10, 2020
Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images


Coping For The Best: How To Manage Mental Health During Social Unrest & A Global Pandemic

Try these helpful and creative ways to keep your mind and body strong, healthy and together even if it feels like the world is falling apart

GRAMMYs/Jun 24, 2020 - 11:30 pm

For several weeks after the pandemic began, a friend of mine heard a neighbor play the song “We Are The World” each night at 7pm during the applause for essential workers. The song and sound of thunderous clapping filled the Harlem neighborhood and provided a certain sense of comfort and connection, even if for only for a few minutes. But what about the other 23-plus hours?

During these challenging times, it’s critical that we find spaces of joy, connection, rest and comfort. Not only are we living through a global pandemic that has affected nearly every aspect of life, but we are also engaged in the fight against grave inequality and racial injustice in America. Additionally, there are looming fears and buzzing anxieties about reopening the economy — and let’s not forget, we’re in an election year, too. To say, it’s a lot is an understatement. During these unpredictable and heavy times, taking care of your mental health isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. 

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” - Audre Lorde

Managing your mental health is vital to your overall health and well-being. During these times when our lives have been turned upside down and every news headline is bordering on traumatic, it’s important to rest and recover. 

If you’re like me, you might find yourself more fatigued than normal. You can’t produce at the capacity you once did. Doing the smallest tasks can seem like a chore. 

In our culture that worships the art of the hustle, it’s easy to internalize this and feel bad. But if there was ever a time to cut yourself some slack, it's now. Here is your permission slip. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re thirsty, you drink. So why not rest when you’re tired? 

"Give yourself permission to rest," says Licensed Master Social Worker Lindsay Bryan-Podvin. Resting can look different for people, so check in and evaluate what activities restore your energy. 

"To truly show up for this revolution, you need to do it rested. Yin yoga, stretching, napping, reading, watching mindless TV, and sleeping are some great ways to restore yourself," notes Bryan-Podvin.

As the adage goes, "You can’t pour from an empty cup." It sounds trite, but it’s true. 

“The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body.” — Gabrielle Roth

Your mind and body are interconnected. To manage your mental health, you also need to manage your physical health. Yes, that means that you should exercise. 

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, fatigue may make it difficult. If you’re like me and you suffer from depression, simply leaving the bed can be a feat. 

However, moving your body, even just a little can help. Start with stretching. 

"Practice getting energy out of your body. With all of the uncertainty happening, we tend to store the anxiety and tension in our bodies,” says Bryan-Podvin. “Research shows that we store trauma, specifically, in our hips. Make sure you are engaging in some sort of physical activity to dial down cortisol, get some endorphins flowing, and don't forget to stretch out afterward to keep that trauma from sticking around.”

You can check out these 15 hip stretches to get started. If you can do a bit more, commit to just seven minutes. That’s what I’ve been doing when I feel like exercising is a chore and something I can’t manage. 

I commit to doing the signature seven-minute workout, which uses high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The exercises are 30 seconds, with a 10-second break. I know that I can invest, at a minimum, seven minutes a day to move my body. 

Walking around your neighborhood (with a mask, of course) is also a good way to keep your body moving. Research has shown that a brisk 10-minute walk or meditation has a positive impact on your mood. 

You can also take advantage of the many online exercise classes and do something like yoga or dance. Finding something you enjoy is paramount so that you can try and stay consistent. 

Use music as your guide to get moving. Put on a playlist that inspires you to workout or one that you can’t help but dance to. 

Like many people, I often lament about “needing to exercise”. It feels like an afterthought or something getting in the way. But I do know that I’ve never felt worse after a workout or regretted doing it. 

Something I like to do is rate my mood before the workout and after it. I rate on a 1 to 10 scale. One is the lowest mood and 10 is feeling pretty good and five is just average. After doing a workout, I typically see my mood improve by a few points. Doing this helps me realize that exercise is helping. It reminds me to move my body in some way because I will feel better. 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”― Viktor E. Frankl

One of the hardest parts to deal with right now is a lack of control. All of our plans went out of the window and circumstances changed overnight because of the pandemic — and for many people, for the worse. It’s disheartening. 

And not having control over the pandemic, reopening, whether people wear masks or not, racial injustice, etc. only adds to the worry. 

Finding peace, though, requires focusing on what you can actually control, not the things you can’t. “In times of high stress, it's helpful to take a step back and determine what things we can and can't control, both in the short-run and in the long-run. If you can't control it, worrying about things we can't control can lead to unnecessary stress,” explains financial therapist Derek Hagen

“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” – George Eliot

Music can also play a role in managing your mental health. You can find the perfect song to match your current mood or engineer your playlist to get out of a funk and feel better. 

"As a singer-songwriter, music is life to me. Listening to the music of other artists and creating my own helps me to process my emotions, and experiences, especially the painful ones.  Without a doubt music plays an integral role in my mental wellness," says singer, Kassandra Dasent

This works well for me. As I was dealing with my own emotions related to the pandemic, I identified three songs that helped my mental health and played them on repeat. It was like a sonic cocoon, keeping me safe. 

Music has the power to make you feel less alone. It can boost your mood and make you dance. It can also move you to tears. To maintain your mental health, identify one song that you can’t help but feel good every time you listen to it. Like this one

"Crying is how your heart speaks, when your lips can't explain the pain you feel." — Unknown Author

It’s natural that we experience a lot of feelings and emotions given everything going on. But if you keep those feelings inside and don’t have an outlet for release, it can deteriorate your mental health. 

You can journal out your feelings or call your best friend. Find online communities to connect with. But sometimes you just need to cry it out. Crying gets a bad rap, but everyone can benefit from crying. Crying actually releases feel-good endorphins and can improve your mood, while lessening the pain. 

When managing your mental health amongst all the chaos, think about the things that make you feel good. Ask yourself what you really need, right now. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, either. You can reach a crisis counselor by texting HOME to 741741 or find a therapist using

To help ground you when anxiety spikes, focus on gratitude. 

“Gratitude is important. When nothing seems to be going your way, try to find a way to pause and think about all the things in your life for which you are grateful... our brains have a negativity bias so it's important to counter our natural negative thoughts with the good that's all around us,” explains Hagen. 

And finally, remember to try and stop dwelling on the things we no longer have (though it’s not easy!). Instead, focus on all the things we still do have and what kind of life you want to create moving forward. Remind yourself you are safe and healthy in this moment.

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards


Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images


Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images


DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2020 - 09:05 am

DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.

"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."

After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.

DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle." 

Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."

Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.

Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?

Fleetwood Mac in 1975

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?

"Dreams" experienced a charming viral moment on TikTok after a man posted a video skateboarding to the classic track, and now it's back on the charts, 43 years later

GRAMMYs/Oct 16, 2020 - 04:00 am

In honor of Fleetwood Mac's ethereal '70s rock classic "Dreams," which recently returned to the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a viral TikTok skateboard video from Nathan Apodaca, we want to know which of the legendary group's songs is your favorite!

Beyond their ubiquitous 1977 No. 1 hit "Dreams," there are so many other gems from the iconic GRAMMY-winning album Rumours, as well as across their entire catalog. There's the oft-covered sentimental ballad "Landslide" from their 1975 self-titled album, the jubilant, sparkling Tango in the Night cut "Everywhere" and Stevie Nicks' triumphant anthem for the people "Gypsy," from 1982's Mirage, among many others.

Vote below in our latest poll to let us know which you love most.

Related: Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" Back On Charts Thanks To Viral Skateboard Video On TikTok


Poll: What's Your Favorite Van Halen Song?