The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.
Between buzzy movie roles, a flourishing podcast and raising a young daughter, Tika Sumpter is used to having her hands full 24/7. But there is one thing the busy actress always makes time for, and that's herself.
"Sometimes I'm like, I can't do any more. I'm going to take a bath in the middle of the day," Sumpter tells Yahoo Life.
The Mixed-ish star is a huge advocate for self-care, especially for fellow moms who often feel pressured to be everything for everyone — a goal not on Sumpter's radar.
"I totally took the pressure off of me, motherhood-wise. Like, I said, 'Ok, I'm not going to live up to every standard that has been put in our past, like being there all the time, in every moment,'" she says. Instead, Tika leans into her support system, which allows her to show up as the most present version of herself.
"I have an amazing husband, who is very involved with our child and so I allow him to be a dad," she says.
Sumpter, 42, shares 5-year-old daughter Ella-Loren with husband Nick James, and has been mindful to make sure her daughter understands the importance of boundaries from an early age.
"Even if Ella is like, 'Mom come do this,' I'm like, 'I can't, I don't have it anymore' and I tell her, like, 'I'm done. I can't, I'm done for today,'" she says.
This is not the only self-care lesson Sumpter has begun to instill in her daughter, revealing that the two regularly practice affirmations.
"Since she was a little girl I started being like, 'I am intelligent,' and she goes, 'I am intelligent, I am beautiful,' all those things," says Sumpter, adding that she hopes the positive self-talk will stick with her daughter as she gets older. "I just want to put all the positive goodness in her head, that she is all these things, so that when the world tells her she's not, the self-talk automatically goes back to 'I know I am these things that my mother and father instilled in me,'" she says.
In addition to affirmations, Sumpter shares that her daughter is quite a meditation enthusiast.
"She saw me meditate and now she created an 'office' where she takes me in to meditate. She walks me through talking meditations… I'm like, nobody's gonna believe me," says Sumpter.
Positive self-talk has also been a key component of mental wellness for Sumpter, who recalls becoming aware of the dangers of negative self-talk in her 30s.
"I finally checked in with my body and how I felt and how it was connected to what I was thinking and how I was actually talking to myself," she says.
While mental health and social media have a complicated relationship, to say the least, Sumpter acknowledges the feeling of empowerment it can provide for those struggling to advocate for themselves.
"It has given people a pass and the grace to say, 'You know what? I'm logging off for today,' or 'I can't take this moment and it's okay and I'm okay to take care of myself right now and make it about me,'" she says.
As the co-creator of Sugaberry, an audio-first media company focused on the mental wellness of Black women, Tika rejects the notion that Black women have to overextend themselves to be of value to those around them.
"I think for so long, especially Black women always hold up everybody else, and we forget about ourselves. And so I think when women in sisterhood tell each other it's okay to let go for a while, there's something about giving somebody permission," she says.
In terms of extending grace to herself, Sumpter has found that it's effective to approach her self-talk as if she were speaking helpfully to a loved one, instead of to herself.
"Don't talk to yourself the way you wouldn't talk to your friend, I always tell my friends when they beat up on themselves 'don't talk to my friend that way,'" she says.
Affirmations and meditations aside, Sumpter recognizes that stress is not entirely avoidable in the world we live in and has teamed up with the American Heart Association to address the link between stress and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
"My mental health is everything, especially with what's going on with the world today," she says. "And teaming up with the American Heart Association to talk about stress and the risks, the solutions and how they apply to our own lives is super important. Between family, work and finances and, obviously, the news in every way, people in the U.S. and around the world are stressed more than ever."
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