“Are you continuing patterns that keep you in a perpetual state where it’s not best for your health and wellness?”


Have you thought about the generational stress on the heart when we live by the mantra “You have to work twice as hard” and how we unlearn that mentality?

What have you filled your cup with today? I hope it’s something that will soothe your soul because this conversation with Dr. Rufus Spann does just that.

In this episode we discuss –

discuss –

👉 the challenges of holding space for others and ourselves during these times

👉 the impact of racial battle fatigue on the body

👉 how we can use different tools and leverage community to approach DEI issues differently

He also provides a few tips on how we can use after care before we get to the point of needing self-care.


Dr. Rufus Spann - Wellness and Self-Care in DEI- - powered by Happy Scribe

Sacha Thompson is a respected and certified DEI coach. For the next 30 minutes, we'll get an exclusive look at some of her conversations with others in the field. Welcome to DEI After Five.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to DEI After Five. I am absolutely thrilled to be with you all today and have this conversation. So for anyone that has followed me on social media, on LinkedIn, on IG, you know that self-care and wellness is so important to me, particularly in this work. And so today we are going to be talking to Dr. Rufus Spann, who is a therapist in this space and just someone that was recommended to me as this is who you need to talk to about wellness and taking care of self. So Rufus. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you, Sacha, for having me. It's a pleasure to be in any space where I can continue to help people to center their health and wellness in a way that just feels healthy and comfortable for them.

Let's talk about that. Right. So when we first started chatting, we were actually connected by Farah Harris and just does this work and trying to figure out how to support practitioners in this space. And I've often heard of it the last 20 months has been traumatic for lack of a better term. And so what are some of the things that you are hearing and seeing in this space?

Great question. Thank you for reaching out and raising this question because it's an important question where a lot of practitioners don't get the opportunity to really talk about, I think, something that's meaningful to them and that's how they are actually experiencing the last almost going on two years of being in a pandemic, as well as what has been the experience for coaches, therapists, many others that are considered in the thick of this with clients and working through a lot of the social, emotional as well as coaching through a lot of what could be the work experience or just life experiences. And what I find is that there's this level of stress of being overburdened. And it's not because you can't hold the capacity or the space for those that you're working with, you're also holding the space and capacity for yourself. And so that's where trying to hold two simultaneous spaces or multiple spaces, as we do have family, extended family, friends, or just experiencing the world that we're living in, it could be a lot more challenging than it was before because we haven't seen the ease of the letter of being in this past experience. So I think with trying to have both of those things at the same time, take care of yourself, certain things are being put on the back burner. And I think that's where we're having to address those things now because to sustain that sustainability and putting yourself last or not taking care of your health and wellness is not going to be sustainable. It's not going to happen.

Yeah. And many practitioners are advocating for themselves. Right. In this work, they're advocating for themselves as well as others. And what I'm noticing or what I'm seeing in this space is you're having to deal with your customers, your clients, your employees, but then you're also dealing with this racial trauma as well. Like, we all witnessed what happened to George Floyd. We all know what happened to Brianna Taylor. And since then, these court cases that have happened, and it's this kind of reliving the trauma a bit as well. And so what is the impact of that? Because I don't think people necessarily understand, like we see it, we take it on. But to your point, we kind of put it, okay, I'll deal with that later. Right. But there is actual impact on us in this space.

Excellent point. And leaning into now, we're starting to get down into the minor and overall effects of what's happening for being in particular bodies, particularly if we think about Black and Brown bodies, the experience of that. And so when we think about stress itself, the effect that stress when we cortisol and that's that enzyme that's released in the body, when we think about the flight and the fight and that sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of our bodies just allows for us to deal with stressful moments, allows for us to deal with the impact of if we need to address what is immediately in front of us, that is a threat. However, when we see these images in the media, when we see these experiences in our community, that's happening to our brothers and sisters, family members, that trauma that is either impacted directly on us or vicariously that we see in our communities has a major impact on stress. And when stress is in your body for a prolonged amount of time, it has a major effect on your muscles, your organs, your digestive system, how you're able to think clearly, process and actually work through day to day. Now, research has shown for people of color, particularly in looking at Black and Brown bodies, there's a sense of being hyper-aware, not knowing this is a particular situation in our communities and neighborhoods where this is an immediate threat or it is a vicarious issue that we're working through. So that level of trauma and the way the body works is that we keep trauma in the body. It may not be in all parts of our body, but it still will sit with us. And so as we think about stress, as we think about hypertension, which is also the overworking of our heart, we think about vicarious trauma. And another one to add on top of that, which is racial battle fatigue, which in itself is just having to have this ongoing experience of racial microaggressions, overt issues, systemic issues that has a major impact on our body. And so as others may have where they're dealing with maybe just work and other components of life and variables of life. We're also adding on a lot of other variables that lead to what are part of the hegemonic stressful, oppressive systems that we live under that have just historically been in place for people of color.

Yeah. Like what you just said just hit me. Right. Because I'm just thinking back to my experiences, and I was dealing with the racial battle fatigue. Right. I was dealing with that. I started losing my hair. I started getting ulcers and other digestive issues because of the stress. And then add on that George Floyd situation had happened and occurred, and it does impact the body. I've spoken to so many people, other practitioners, that during that time period or even post that time period, they were feeling it in their bodies. It was manifesting in so many different ways. Most of the time it's like, I'm tired, but it wasn't a physical tired. It was like a mental stress. It was people again, getting sick with people that never get sick, getting sick. I had a friend or a colleague that found herself getting the flu and then getting pneumonia. Like, it was just this back to back ailment. And she was like, I never get sick. And so it was kind of the compounding stress within the body. And then I also hear others. And when you spoke about it, that racial battle fatigue not necessarily been knowing that that's what we're dealing with. Right. Because so many people are trying to change systems, trying to get leaders to see things in a different way. But they're dealing with the microaggressions, they're dealing with not being seen, heard and valued. And so the impact of that in doing this work on top of, as you said, the pandemic can really break you down.

An excellent point, because what you're raising right now is as we think about these overarching larger systems that we're living in, it really does come back to the body because the body is what the vessel that we live in as well. And if you're thinking about stress or the other impacting factors, it impacts the immune system. And right now we need our immune system to be the strongest that we can have it. And the other opposite effect is that sometimes we just don't think about taking care of our body properly by getting the amount of water we need it to our body, getting the amount of rest because we're impacted by these other issues that are going on social political issues or even just going through listening or working with our clients or members. What we're finding is that those stories, those issues that are maybe happening in the workplace where we're talking about imposter syndrome, or if we're thinking about code switching, if we're working with managing clients in those spaces, or if we're just thinking about those that are living in their communities. And they're talking about the financial issues or other issues that are coming along that impacts us as well, because as a vessel, as a mind, we can't block those things out per se. We take those things in, and it's how we process them, how we either hold them or we release them back into our coaching sessions or clinical sessions and what we do. But beyond that, it's really hard to not take that information in. And what I find for many practitioners is that they hold the information. It's very hard not to hear somebody's story or not to be emotionally connected to what we see in our world and then to also try to process our own stories. That's a lot for the body and the mind to have to do and to still stay positive in a time where it's hard to always see the positivity in the world that we live in.

Yeah. I mean, because so many practitioners call themselves empaths. Right. They take it all in, they're sponges. But to your point, how do you release that? How do you let that out? And one of the things that I use for this show. Right. Like we're always filling other people's cups, right.


How do we fill our own cups? What do we do to fill ourselves? Because we can't give if we have nothing to give. And so that's one of the challenges, I think, in this work is we give so much to others. We're trying to be and fix and do and all of these things. But you've alluded to and spoken directly to throughout is this need to take care of itself. So what are some things that you would suggest that people start to think about, like immediate things that they can do to start taking care of self?

Well, that's a great question. And the one thing I would say and this is going to probably be a radical way of looking at it is that you're probably going to have to unlearn a lot of the things that you learned. And I say that because we've learned a lot of habits. I've learned a lot of habits. And I think anybody listening to this probably has learned a lot of habits. Now, some of the habits are the things that we have done is so that we are able to thrive or survive or maybe in the moment we did that, and then we started creating these patterns in our lives. And the patterns that we've been holding could be a resting pattern. They are keeping us in particular States. And when we think about the flight or fight, some things may have been under those particular states where this was what helped me to get by. However, the question is, are you continuing patterns that keep you in a perpetual state where it's not best for your health and wellness? For example, there's a saying, well, I've always had to work harder than my counterparts, I have to work harder to look smarter. My notion to that or my thought to that is there's a study that looked at hypertension amongst people of color, that level of hypertension, and what the impact is on our heart because we are overworking our hearts, we have to think about it. Was that a way of how we had to survive or survival because of the work systems, because of the lives that we were living. But we have to think about it. Our heart is an organism that we really have to take care of. We have to be mindful of what we're putting into our bodies, what we're putting into our minds and our hearts. So if we're unlearning some of the things that we're doing, some things that may even been passed down historically because it was a means of survival and or way of just how we were working through generationally as people to get to the next generation. But what Dr. Barbara Seismor would say is that the only way that we create love of continuity and gifting and passing on to the next generation is really being our healthiest. Now we have to think about how do we pass on our genes, our DNA, our thoughts, our thinking to the next generation. So a couple of things that you can do now is, I would say, do an inventory. Do an inventory on how are you doing with your eating, how are you doing with your sleeping, how much water are you getting into your system? How much sugar and salt are you putting into your body? Because those particular we think about how the body processes sugar and salt and has an effect on our gut. And our gut is our second brain. It really impacts how you work in your body. So really do an inventory and unlearn some of the things that we may have under our belt. And that's one way of starting because you can't fill up the cup. If it's already full, you got to empty it out. And maybe what's in that cup isn't the best thing. If it's a cup full of sugar and it's a cup full of salt and some other stuff, you have to first empty that out and think about how do we put some more things in there that could be better for you. So I'll start with that because then once we empty the cup and think about what we can put in there, we can start placing in some healthier attitudes, healthier patterns and healthier techniques.

Diet, green tea.

Okay. So that's good. That's very good for the body. It's helped to cleanse. Nice.

You were talking about something, and I wrote a note about John Henryism. I just learned that phrase a couple of months ago. Right. Where it's this working so hard just to prove a point, just to stay up. And it's a phenomenon that happens within particularly communities of color. Particularly the Black community, where again, what you said, how do we unlearn this work twice as hard mentality so that we're not burning ourselves out trying to keep up with the steam engine? And how do you work smarter? How do you utilize community to help you get work done?

Excellent point. As I remove and saying about the working harder, it's like, well, what are the other opportunities in here? How do we leverage, how do we connect even Kwanzaa gets into this idea of cooperative connectedness that we should be having you embody that in your community, where that is something that becomes a richer part of what we do. And it has been a historical part of who we were and who we are. I think what we can do is enhance that. We can leverage technology. We can leverage ideas and people in spaces. There are many bright minds that have ideas of how to bring us together and have us to leverage ideas or work finances. I think if we do that, we're looking at it differently. We're still using the same tools to try to dismantle. If we're thinking about trying to dismantle systems and trying to do things differently workspaces. We're not using different tools. We're not thinking differently. We won't get progress that way. It's not going to change anything. We're going to continue a status quo. And what we're looking for is change.

You just pinged an idea or a thought that I've shared this before. Right. Like this country, if you're looking just purely at the US was built on rugged individualism. Right. And so how we've been approaching this work, I have to work twice as hard. We as communities of color have kind of taken on that mentality. But when you look at communities of color, they're all about community. They're all about cooperative economics and taking care of each other and doing things so that we all rise up. And so when you said that just now, it just reminded me or just made me think of how do we get back to that? That's our DNA. That is who we are as a people. Right. It's not this rugged individualism or I need to only look out for me, that's counter to who we are as a people. And so when I think about it in this context and around self care, there was so much more community around for you to take care of self. Right. You didn't have to carry the burden because you were the rugged individual. There were others to carry that burden along with you.And so the stress wasn't as prominent. So just that AHA just kind of clicked for me.

And that's an excellent AHA moment. And it's an excellent AHA moment because leaning back into that self care and that wellness, there is nothing wrong with having a suite of people, a suite of professionals that support you. I always would say this back in the day, the District of Columbia, even, let's say the New York City, there was Harlem, there was New Street for DC. The impetus behind that was that you had a shop of Black professionals that had from dentistry to an attorney to your primary care physician, although we may not have the traditional U suites and brick and mortars, but we still can have a virtual suite or you can create that looking at practitioners that can help and support you. That means taking care of any dental work, taking care of mind where you're working with a mental health professional or you're looking at working with a coach. Having these people in your lives doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you. It means that you have a suite of professionals or people that you feel that you can lean into for that support and taking care of yourself. And Sacha, you were so right. Thinking about the Village or thinking about the components of being in a collective society. You have these different individuals, and there's nothing wrong with saying this is the person that had that professional background or that background to work with. And I think what we get from is thinking that it's just the one primary care physician and you're done think about other people that could be from a yoga therapist or anybody else that you're working with. You can have other people in your life that help you to take care of these things, and it doesn't mean that you can't do it yourself. It's just nice when you can have somebody that's been trained, that's qualified to guide you through it. And it doesn't have to be a long term, but it's good to know that in the media term that you can have somebody to help you.

I call it the circle of support. Like I asked all my clients, who's in your circle of support, it does not have to be work related. Right. Because I think so many of us have this hold who's on your board of directors, and it becomes this very professional thing that doesn't take into consideration self. Right. So what I'm hearing from you is creating a circle of support. Yes. It takes on your professional, your work life, but also who's going to help you balance, who's going to help you think through, who's going to call you out until you sit down. Right. When you need to sit down somewhere, right? Yeah. Because I think that's a critical piece of this. It's like you don't have to continue to chug through the work. There needs to be folks in your circle that will tell you to sit and rest, and that's okay.

Excellent point. And when that person or whoever that person is in your circle, if they're noticing that about you, if they're either a professional or a friend or family member, if they're noticing that and you're not seeing it, take it in. Just take a moment. It's not a place of judgment or criticism. But it could be a place of where you can reflect and say, you know what, there could be something to that. Or they're right, particularly if they're the medical professional, if they're looking through your blood, if they're looking at your eating habits, or if it's a friend or family member that's able to see that there's some change in you, the first thing you may want to do is push back and be like, I'm getting a place of self examination. But if you truly reflect, you might find that there's something to that. And this could be something that helps to save your life. This could help how you change and see yourself within your life that you do differently so that you can actually receive differently.

So let me ask them to switch gears a little bit, because as you were talking with clicked again, for me, today is a whole clicking day. It must be the green tea was this notion of wellness and self care, because I think that right now you're hearing a lot about it. And there's also this kind of undercurrent of, oh, that's bubble bath and that's whoo-sah and all these other things. But there's so much more to wellness and self care. And so could you just share a few of those options for people? Because I think when they hear self care, they go there and they're like, that's not me.

Right. Great point. And so what I love about this conversation is that we've gone from this large macro, like social political issues and what's happening in our world and how this is impacting, how we show up. But now coming back, as you talking about down to back into the body after we've unlearned and thought about all the issues that hold us captive, it's really not thinking about what do we do with what we have? And so there's two things that I'll say. There's something called wellness or self care. And then there's something that is also used in a totally different community that's called after care. And so I'll use after care, and I'll leverage it from a community. And what after care is if you've just gone through something and it's been either pretty tough day or traumatic, or it was an intense moment that you had with somebody to not do some after care, to come down, to bring the adrenaline down, to bring the emotions down, to not to try to address that needing in the moment and say, you know what, I'll just have some self care, and I'll wait till two days later or I'll go get my nails done or go get something done. And that's where wellness or self care, that may be too far down the road. So there may need to be some after care that you're having after an intense moment, something that you're dealing with. So after care could mean that you're doing some deep breathing, you're taking a walk. You might just need to do something that helps you to self soothe. But whatever that is, you're dealing with it right after the moment. You're not going to go right into your next work moment. You're not going to go right into the next client. You're going to take some moments for after care because you have to get some care between those moments, because if not, that continuous cycle is not healthy on the body, the mind, or the heart. So think about after care. Now, when we think about selfcare or self or wellness in itself, there's going to be five things that I'm going to share. Maybe we can leverage these five things in the rest of the conversation. One, drink, eight glasses of water, 8oz of eight glasses of water a day. Now that's easier said than done because I tried that. And I would just say it's an experience,


However, you need that to replenish your organs, your mind, your body, your skin. It just helps you to have healthy thinking because you're able to have that brain flow, helps with Gray matter in the brain, just all these things, right? Two, movement, please get some movement in your life. And that means that you're dancing to Frankie Beverly and Maze, which I do in the house all the time, or if that's me taking a walk or a job or doing something, get movement. You got to get movement in your bottom of your life. Three, you got to get sleep, whatever that looks like for you. Hopefully it's a healthy amount of sleep, but you got to make sure that you are getting rest. Four, make sure that you actually get outside. I know raising the window is nice. Get a little fresh air, but go outside. It's okay if you're social distancing you're in spaces that you actually feel that you're very comfortable. Make sure you're taking time to get outside. Five, make sure you're eating fresh foods. I know during the pandemic and other times we bought a lot of this canned preserves just in case we didn't know. Or it may have been hard to find on the shelves, but fresh food, low salt, doesn't have to have all the salt in it, and it doesn't have to have a lot of sugar in it. We get fresh foods. So the fruits, veggies all in that section where you go in. You sometimes bypass it. Don't bypass it. Stop by, put it into your cart and get that fresh food. I know it's not always easiest in some areas of the cities or urban areas or suburban areas we live in. But if you can get it, definitely get that. That's going to be five things of wellness that you can do that could help to maintain a level of wellness in your body. So we do a lot of preventative work.

I love that. I absolutely love that. And during this time, I would say maybe three months ago or so, not too long ago, I was introduced to photonutrient diet.


So adding more color and you really don't notice. Or I didn't realize, like, I eat fruits and vegetables, but when you make sure you get at least seven colors in your day, you really have to think about what it is. And some of those are anti- inflammatory and all of these other things. So I started eating, like, black rice. It was not about black rice, but it's super good for you. But I think that again, when you take the time to step back, because that's what it took me looking at this photonutrient diet and saying, okay, how can I be creative with this? I immediately felt the difference, immediately felt it and realized, okay, this is something my body's been craving. Like, this is something that I needed.

Excellent point. Your body has been craving that. And so you don't know until you're able to just do an inventory and really even maybe even detoxing and saying, what have I been putting in my body? Let me get this out of my body. Take a moment to step back from it and think about, like, you're saying the different colors of foods in your diet or actually eating fresher foods, your body will respond differently because your body needs that to create this level of homeostasis that we have within our cells and just within the body itself, it needs those nutrients. So we got to put it back in there.

Yeah. As I kind of think through this, too, it really is about my body and soul. Like, it really is kind of all of those things. And this is the body piece, right? The drinking water, the exercise, the fresh air, those are the things just kind of fill your body. And then one of the things that you and I talked about, right. Is Shine. Like, I love the Shine app and start in my day with just that meditation. Right. That moment of just, okay, I'm going to prepare for the day, right. Get myself in there and then shut down from the day. But I find I was traveling not too long ago that if I don't use the app at night, like, I have a hard time sleeping because I've gotten my mind so used to this is how we're going to calm down and this is how we're going to separate day from the next day.

Excellent point. We have to disconnect from our day, and we have to have a ritual that could help us with that. And so Shine is an excellent app that allows for us to do that. The benefits of it is that it has the meditations. It also has where people of color are centered in many ways and how they see the meditations. And I love their work. And I'm all for meditation and affirmations and journaling, and they do a lot of that work as well. And if you think about centering your mind which is very powerful piece, doing that in the day and ending your day will help you to have a better rest or it will help you to start peace off in your day and you can climb from there.

Love it. SoDr. Rufus Spann where can people find you if they wanted to find you?

That's a good question. So if you want you can find me on Twitter all my handles for social media are really just my first and last name, Rufus Spann. So if you Instagram Twitter you can go to Facebook Rufus Spann you can reach out or you can even just reach out to rufusspann@gmail.com. That's another space that you can reach out to me so social media and directly reaching out to me at rufusspann@gmail.com great.

Thank you so much. So thank you for being here. I love this conversation. I wrote down those five things for wellness because I need to remind myself of those things sometimes. So thank you so much for that.

You're welcome. Thank you.

And I just want to thank everyone for joining us today and I look forward to seeing you in our next episode. Have a good one.