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Health & Well-Being

How is Life Tree(ting) You?: Flourishing While BIPOC

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If you identify as a member of the BIPOC community, you may find that your feelings and experiences are more intensified as you navigate various spaces. How does this affect your overall well-being?


How to Flourish While BIPOC

When we think about our wellness as BIPOC* (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community members, we like to frame it in three layers: Systems, Community, and Individual. It’s an ecosystem that influences and informs our well-being at every layer.

The degree to which a system, community, or individual is "flourishing" exists on a spectrum. Flourishing means our ability to be well, and do the things that sustain and perpetuate our own sense of wellness, is present. Languishing is when those pieces are feeling absent or harder to access. Many of our systems are closer to the languishing side of things, while our community may be closer to flourishing.

On campus, it may look and feel like this: the quarter system may have you feeling burned out and overwhelmed. The relentlessness and fast pace of the quarter can make it feel like you are unable to catch a breath. This is because our community is steeped in a toxic grind culture– the feeling that you always need to be doing more. This then trickles down to your experience as an individual, where your mind, body, and life begin to be consumed by this stress. You may find it harder to access your own way of flourishing because the ecosystem is not flourishing. 

If you are a BIPOC community member, these feelings can be much more intensified because there is a hidden curriculum in these spaces and many have to navigate these languishing ecosystems while also being expected to flourish at the same rates. It’s important to recognize that you are not alone in these experiences and it is possible to have a beautiful (and complex) flourishing experience in these languishing ecosystems. Common in many PGM* (People of the Global Majority) ecosystems and communities are individuals who flourish in collectivism, interdependence, family (of origin or chosen), sustainability cultures, and valuing the ecosystem itself. 

As you embark on your flourishing BIPOC journey, we invite you to identify and celebrate how our PGM communities can support your flourishing, to reclaim your own ways of wellness. This is not a call to engage in toxic positivity, but rather to hold what feels authentic for you first and then sit with the challenges. 

Need help getting started? Think of the transition to spring as a metaphor for your life right now. What does spring mean for you? What things are beginning to blossom? What seeds do you want to plant for yourself? What needs watering and nurturing? What needs to be pruned to make space for new things to follow?

We intentionally center the communities who are marginalized systemically, especially when we look at the historically white/wester-dominated wellness world. Consider enrolling in the class, “Flourishing While BIPOC - Wellness 141,” which allows you to take part in a deeper dive into this intersectionality of identity and wellness with supportive instructors and community.

* "BIPOC" stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. While this serves as an intentional tool to center Black and Indigenous communities, the "and POC" part can be a form of erasure for a large number of communities. We intend to use BIPOC as a shorthand to refer to the People of the Global Majority (PGM)

Written by: Maija Cruz, ‘12, Well-Being at Stanford


Stanford Resources

  • Interested in learning more? Take the WELLNESS 141: Flourishing While BIPOC course. This class will offer important life skills centering on the needs, experiences, and challenges of BIPOC students. Skills/topics covered may include communication and relationship skills, interviewing for jobs, self- and community- care, and cooking/meal planning.
  • Decolonizing Mental Health with Dr. Helen Hsu & Dr. LaWanda Hill Stanford Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Looking to further explore flourishing? Need help embracing your experience as a BIPOC student? Consider scheduling a 1:1 session with a Well-Being coach. A Well-Being coach can help you design your own vision for well-being and help you figure out what you want/need at this phase in your life. Book a session today.
  • Want our coaches to come talk to your community or student group about well-being? Submit a request.

Additional Resources