Ever since Common first came onto the music scene back in 1992, he’s never been shy to discuss struggles in his personal life—or the strides he’s made to overcome them. In the inaugural Mental Health Live event with Men’s Health, the rapper sat down with Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, M.D., to discuss the state of mental health in the U.S. amid the pandemic.
Common’s mission? To help people—particularly, BIPOC communities—gain access to mental health resources in order to live happier lives. During the hour-long chat, Common broke down the ways he combats his own mental health, too, from diet and exercise changes to relying on new emotional support systems.
Here are five takeaways from the chat you might use to benefit your mental health:
Mental health isn’t just about bettering your mind—it’s about bettering your whole self.
FOR COMMON, achieving a better relationship with his mental health requires maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen. In August, the rapper launched his own YouTube Channel, Com & Well, to showcase his self-care and wellness routine.
“When I’m taking care of my spiritual self and my physical self, it just helps build up my emotional self to deal with these personal struggles,” he says.
He reaches out for help when he needs it.
IT WAS Common’s acting coach at the time who, after hearing about the rapper’s emotional situation, suggested he try some meditation and therapy.
“You’ve got to seek one thing that might work for you for a few weeks, and then find what helps during this difficult time. I think it’s a process, but the start is to find something that really resonates with you, and you feel peace when you do it.”
He doesn’t turn to alcohol on bad days.
“I UNDERSTOOD at an early age that I wasn’t going to be able to drink away the pain,” Common says matter-of-factly. “It wasn’t like the substance healed the issue overall—I still had to deal with it the next day.”
His solution? He chooses never to drink when he’s feeling down because he thinks it won’t help him reach his personal and professional goals. “When you’ve got a goal in mind, you think twice about it, and the closer you get to that goal, the more disciplined you can be.”
He acknowledges his own feelings to himself.
“I TRY to register [my feelings] and make it a checkpoint of ‘Okay, I feel this,’” he says about his personal method for getting through a particularly difficult moment.
“But I don’t have to stay here, I don’t have to stay in those feelings. The truth of the matter is it’s always a better day, always a better moment, always a better minute and hour ahead of you. You can make the present better if you acknowledge where you are and then say, ‘I want to be better and I want to feel better.’”
He channels his own creativity to get things off his mind.
“I DO get into those moments,” he explains, “but then there’s also other solutions, fun things to do, like put on a comedy and relax and just watch something fun to take your mind off.”
What works best for Common? Watching a good film, meditating, praying, and, of course, writing. “Even if you’re not a quote unquote artist, writing things is powerful,” he says. “Creating is powerful and those things are powerful tools to release so much stress, anger, and depression.”
Don’t miss the next MH Live events! The editors of Men’s Health and Women’s Health have teamed up with Epic Provisions to create a special four-part “Hack Your Health Routine” event series focused on four themes: Fitness, Nutrition, Mental Health, and Wellness.
We’re kicking things off with a session focused on Hacking Your Nutrition with esteemed restaurateur, Michael Chernow. He’ll be leading a legs- and core-focused workout, followed by a conversation with Men’s Health Nutrition Editor Paul Kita on simple meal hacks and techniques to help you create delicious and nutritious meals. Tune in this Thursday, September 17 at 4 pm.
Then, learn how to Hack Your Fitness with Super Bowl champion Demarcus Ware and Men’s Health Fitness Editor Eb Samuel. These two all-star trainers will lead a 20-minute sweat session and recovery day circuit, followed by a discussion on the importance of active recovery and how it can keep you on track to hit fitness goals. Tune in Tuesday, September 29 at 4 pm.
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