Asha Tarry is an author, an award-winning community mental health advocate, psychotherapist, and certified life coach. As a treating provider, Asha has 20 years of experience providing evaluations, diagnoses, treatment, and life-enhancing skills to children, adults, families, and couples. A significant portion of Ms. Tarry’s work has been conducted in marginalized communities with survivors of intergenerational trauma as well as with professionals in search of a fulfilling life.
As a writer and speaker for several publications, which once included one of the nation’s largest online medical news outlets in the black community, BlackDoctor.org, Asha has effectively demonstrated anecdotal evidence that therapy works and that mindfulness is a holistic way of healing oneself on a continuous basis.
Asha’s work as a mindfulness practitioner has been utilized by professionals in the United States, Asia, and Europe with partnerships through Thrive Global, an Arianna Huffington company, to prevent employees from experiencing workplace burnout. The goal of Asha’s work is to enlighten, educate, and create safe spaces for everyone, from children to the elderly to live more emotionally empowered and mentally resilient. Her upcoming book is called Adulting as a Millennial: A Guide to Everything Your Parents Didn’t Teach You.
1. With the COVID graph still not flattening, what should be the mentality of people returning back to work? What should they be prepared for? Would you advise returning back to the office?
Asha Tarry – I advise people to be flexible and have patience. Remember to speak up, but also speak up with resolutions, don’t just complain.
Understandably people have to do what’s best for them, and that can’t be clustered into a one-size-fits-all response to what people may be dealing with outside of work, including childcare matters and compromises with health. If returning to work causes physical or mental stress you may want to negotiate special accommodations to either work from home or to stagnate your schedule. It’s important to start thinking about this soon and to discuss your situation with your boss, and possibly, if necessary your HR department.
2. What are your tips on reducing the stress and the depression arising due to the COVID? What to do to decrease the anxiety?
Asha Tarry – Normalize your experience by talking about it. When we hear ourselves speak about our stress we can begin to notice the thoughts we’ve been having, and also how we’ve been coping with those thoughts. As well, when we do this we signal to others that it’s okay to talk about their concerns, too. As I advise clients to talk about themselves in a very compassionate way, what they often find is there are other people who feel the way that they do, and it gives them relief that they aren’t the only ones consumed with fear or stress.
Before COVID 40 million Americans per year were diagnosed with anxiety, making anxiety the fastest growing mental illness in our nation. However, during COVID and post-COVID that number is most likely to increase. Some of this can be remedied by incorporating planned self-care habits.
Planned self-care helps with decreasing unwanted symptoms. As we discover what habits and routines work best for one’s lifestyle and personality continue prioritizing those things, even when you feel good. At the same time, adhere to the recommendations of reliable medical sources for safety precautions and health maintenance. One of the things I’m presently working on with many of my clients is sleep training.
Quality sleep helps with concentration, patience, attention, and mood. Sleep training practices that I use with clients in my private practice include setting a regular nightly bedtime, winding down 30-45 minutes before bed, and creating an environment for a good night’s sleep which means avoiding watching the news or exciting programs before bed, and scrolling social media for posts.
3. Mental stress is a dangerous element and there are millions fighting it every day. With the COVID cases piling up, how should the mentality of these individuals be?
Asha Tarry – I’d suggest that people work on their mental fitness and prioritize their needs. Examine the areas of one’s life that could contribute to stress or decrease stress, from social-emotional support networks, religious and spiritual institutions, to the lifestyle habits mentioned in the previous question. We have a lot of control over our mental fitness, but it’s easy to forget how many things we have done or already do that keeps us stable and well. However, at times when those practices no longer work, it means you need to establish new habits.
4. Racial tensions from the previous few weeks have haunted the nation badly with protests and riots happening across multiple states. Do you think people from the black community should stay alert as they feel they are being targeted? What’s your take on this subject?
Asha Tarry – Yes, it’s important to stay informed about present-day racial unrest, but it is also important to study past events and how people addressed them. As some of the protests and passion posts on social media decrease, it doesn’t mean things are better. I would advise Black people to continue doing their part to read, watch, and study the history in this country and use economic power to provide more physical as well as emotional safety in Black communities.
Some of that might include voters researching politicians before voting for them, to getting to know your civil rights and places to go to for judicial and financial support. At this point, Black people need a lot more than passion, and I know that a lot of work is being done to transform civic organizations and legislation. It matters that Black people continue speaking up at work, at your doctor’s office when we feel invisible or unheard and anywhere the Black dollar is accepted.
5. What shall be the ‘new normal’ be like in the future? And how to live in the ‘new normal’?
Asha Tarry – That’s a question to entertain on a personal level every day. People change old habits one person at a time. So if we want to adapt appropriately we can use some of our past experiences with work, socializing, and living in community with others to test the best possible outcomes. But also try being open to doing things in a way you’ve never done them before.
6. What is your take on inter-office racism? How can this issue be addressed in the workplace?
Asha Tarry – Inter-office racism is real and it has existed as long as marginalized people have been allowed to work in the same places as White people. Black people and women have often been the guinea pigs for cases of workplace harassment and diversity & inclusion programs to even be considered or included in workplaces. It is often after a POC or another “minority” group has made a public complaint about their employer do some companies change their practice.
The way this can be diminished is to first take every complaint seriously. Treat the complaints with the same respect and professionalism you would any other group who receives protections from discrimination.
Follow up with your employees’ complaints in a dignified manner, ensure that if you are a supervisor for an organization you make it clear to your staff that you are committed to investigating the complaint and will work to rectify any mistreatment. Lastly, making it a company policy that discriminatory behaviors is intolerable and has consequences will support your most vulnerable employees and create a more equitable environment.
7. What kind of emotional needs does an employee have according to you? Do you think discussing with peers and clients can help?
Asha Tarry – As a consultant and a mental health provider, employees need the same things any other human being needs. They need unconditional positive regard for their professional contributions. They need to be recognized for their experience, and the difference in experience as well as their perspectives. Employees need to feel valued on the job and off the job, and that means respecting their time away from work also without the threat of their loyalty being called into question.
At times yes, talking things over with peers can help, but that has its limitations. Staff needs people on the job who can actually influence change.
8. What is your next book – “Adulting as a Millennial: A Guide to Everything Your Parents Didn’t Teach You.” about? Can you pour some lights on it for our readers?
Asha Tarry – Yes, it’s about coming into your own as a young working professional. My book helps millennial’s to use everything they’ve learned up to now as a lesson in who they are becoming. I offer support on how to counter anxiety, how to appreciate and develop mutually beneficial relationships in their career and personal life. Ultimately, I help millennial’s as well as those working alongside millennials to become more aligned with integrity, tenacity, and mindful action.