Mel Chanté is focused on growing—in her art, in her self-care practice, and in the ways she can show up for herself.

And the poet, writer, and voice behind some of your favorite meditations in the Shine app—including the Daily Shine—believes that focus on growth is what keeps her grounded through grief and self-doubt.

It shows in the work she does, from her books to her community collective, Vow To Self, to the music and meditations she creates.

In this How I Take Care interview: Mel dives into how she leans into the power of writing, what hope feels like to her, and how slowing down has helped her manage her mental health this past year.

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On journaling as a grounding self-care practice:

Self-care to me is doing things that add to my peace, my joy, my love, and my passions. Journaling is a way I practice self-care and something that I do every morning. It's a way for me to just begin the day and kind of release the day before. It kind of helps me set an intention for and a vision for the day. It grounds me.

Setting intentions and writing them down is something that I've seen cultivate growth in me and more confidence in myself. You start to see and feel things differently. Our minds are so powerful: Programming them to affirm the things that we want and the things that we seek can also affirm how amazing we are.

Sometimes you can fall into comparing yourself, especially on social media, and having time to yourself and reclaiming your power is very important.

Sometimes you can fall into comparing yourself, especially on social media, and having time to yourself and reclaiming your power is very important.

I also pray and read scripture, and I feel like that's another thing that grounds me. And stretching and moving the body helps me wake up into the day and I just feel more ready.

On finding art in anything, including grief:

I describe myself as a creator and artist too. Everything is art: Cooking can be art, stretching is art, writing is art, painting is art.

We all are artists. When we create, we’re our most authentic selves. I'm just learning to not limit myself and to create what I feel and to create whatever comes out of me.

My father was a poet. I grew up with that around and he had a bunch of self-published books. I ended up moving to New York to pursue poetry too, but I didn't have any plans or much money but everything was flowing.

Being in New York helped my poetry journey a lot because I ended up going to all these open mics and meeting all these different people. I’ve been writing since I was 11, but I hadn't performed ever. I was super nervous but I wanted to follow that discomfort because the more I follow that feeling, the more I grow and the more I learn about myself.

My father ended up passing away the first year that I moved to New York. It just shook me so hard. I needed words that were grounding and I needed words that uplifted me and I needed words that also spoke the truth that I was feeling.

We all are artists. When we create, we’re our most authentic selves.

I just had to get those things out of me. That was a catalyst in pursuing poetry even more than I had thought I was going to. I wanted to write a book, similar to my dad who wrote a bunch of books. I just saw how he was trying to finish his dreams with his limited time. That sparked something in me—seeing him going through a lot and trying to pursue his dreams, uplift people, and inspire people.

On feeling affirmed through writing:

I started writing about self-love to affirm love for myself and heal. I was hurt and writing as an outlet, but I found that the more that I wrote about love, the more I felt it. The more that I write about self-love or affirmations, the more I feel affirmed. I saw the connection between the things that I'm speaking about and the things that I'm thinking and how I'm feeling.

Over this past year, I've become more mindful of my thoughts and pay attention to what I'm thinking about. I can be an over-thinker. I can keep going over something over and over in my head instead of stopping and changing the direction of that thought or allowing my mind to be at peace.

Stretching and meditating has helped me in that a lot. It helps me slow down, be more observant of myself, and more self-aware, which helps me be more aware of other people and how they're feeling.

Finding different things that help me express or create has been a huge factor for my mental health, too. It helps me make sure that I am nourishing my mind.

I'm releasing a new single called “Magnificent.” It's a way for me to express myself and hopefully inspire some peaceful creative vibes. Creating it taught me to learn how to let myself be free. I can think so much, and it blocks me from just being free. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself. I’m just like “Girl, be free! What's holding me back?!” But I'm learning and that's what brings me joy.

On rethinking hope as motivation:

Hope is what keeps me going. Hope is what motivates me.

I have all these hopes and dreams I’ve collected and held onto that is more enjoyable than holding onto fear or worry or doubt. I can feel how heavy those things are and compare it to the alternative—and I would just rather be hopeful.

It’s a constant battle of the mind because the mind automatically kind of goes into that protective mode full of fear and worry. But being aware of the thoughts that come to your mind and directing them to hope can help combat that. Sometimes you have to ground yourself. Personally, I pray to restore myself. It all comes back to energy, being mindful of our energy, and paying attention.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

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