Alexandria Washington is an award-winning health advocate, community health worker and certified health education specialist in Tallahassee, FL. She is currently pursuing a PhD in public health at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. We sat down with Alexandria to get her perspective on increasing public awareness of holistic health approaches, and how CBD can provide much-needed support for our busy, stressful lives.
Hi, Alexandria! Sounds like you wear a lot of different hats. Fill us in on how you got to be such a powerhouse in the public health space.
I’ve been here in Tallahassee for ten years now, which is so wild to me. I came here for school, and I just kept on re-enrolling and they kept accepting me. As an undergrad, I started as a pre-nursing major before I discovered public health. I really wanted to impact large numbers of people at a time, and public health allowed me to do that.
So now I’m a doctor of public health student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. My goal is to finish by next summer — the more people I say that out loud to, the more it has to happen! My main focus is finishing school, but I also started a company called Change the Narrative, focusing on holistic health education and advocacy.
Tell us about your company, Change the Narrative. What was the inspiration for starting it?
My goal with Change the Narrative is to provide accurate scientific information in a way that people can understand. Especially in the digital age, there’s so much health information out there. You can find anything in two seconds, but a lot of the information you find online is incorrect or hasn’t been vetted, and that can be more damaging than helpful. So I wanted to take all my educational background and break down health information for the consumer in an approachable way. I’m always asking, “Would my mom or brother understand this?”
Change the Narrative also raises awareness of conditions and diseases that people don’t always talk about, like mental health conditions.
I’m a millennial, so I play a lot in the social media and internet space. A lot of our work is digital, amplifying the work of other organizations like Bright Pink, which is a national nonprofit focused on breast and ovarian wellness. I’m very particular — I personally vet all the organizations we work with. I’m seen as a trusted health professional, so I want to showcase things I know are really out here to help us.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Ah, the life of an entrepreneur! The morning is spent doing things for my dissertation, knocking out research or things my advisor has me working on. After that I fill my day with meetings and conversations. I’m always looking to make the biggest impact, always asking, “How can we help people reach optimal health?”
What’s your dissertation focusing on?
I’m studying school gardens and how we can use them to reduce childhood obesity risk factors and increase access to healthier foods, and get kids outside more, playing in the dirt. Dirt is OK! It’s good for kids to get messy and sweaty. I’m looking at how we can get them doing that more often.
How do you prioritize taking care of yourself in the midst of juggling everything you do?
Self-care is extremely important in the work a lot of us do. For me the whole concept of self-care has been evolving — you know, I used to think it meant getting a manicure, which is not always feasible. But now, for me, it looks like saying no to opportunities that don’t feed me in the sense of, “What is this going to do for the greater good?” If it’s just a feel-good opportunity but has no community impact then I have to say no. That’s self-care in how I spend my time.
I also love yoga and that opportunity to get my mind to focus on just one thing. Physical activity is definitely part of self-care, but mainly it’s about really realizing where I am in my life and focusing on the things that make me truly happy and will impact other people. I only have so much time, and I want to make sure it’s as impactful as it can be.
What put Manitoba Harvest Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract with CBD on your radar? What has your experience been with using it?
The power of social media — that’s how I found out about it, scanning through and seeing what others are using and interested in. I have a history of struggling with some mental health issues, and I was looking for something holistic and without side effects to help support my mental wellbeing. I did a deep dive into the company, researching people’s experience using Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract with CBD. I love Manitoba Harvest’s mission — who they are as a company is amazing. I gave the Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract drops a try, and after about six weeks I realized I felt better and wasn’t experiencing as many down days. I felt a shift in my spirit. I strongly believe in this product.
How do you incorporate CBD into your daily routine?
I like to use the drops. I take about two drops under my tongue in the morning and two drops at night before bed. On a particularly stressful day, I might take a couple more drops throughout the day. I have both peppermint and unflavored drops, and I like to add them to smoothies, soups, just add a drop to this or that. If you take the peppermint drops directly it gives you a little tingling feeling. I was a little afraid at first because I’m very particular about taste, but both the peppermint and unflavored CBD drops have been great for me.
Any general tips on avoiding burnout for busy professionals and students?
My number one thing that I’m learning and realizing is that it’s OK to say no. When you’re looking at opportunities, whether as a student or a business owner or a citizen, focus on those that fulfill your spirit and also have a greater impact on your community. Say no to those that are draining and demanding and don’t align with where you are. That’s the number one way to prevent burnout.
Find Alexandria on Instagram at @alexandriajwash, and follow Change the Narrative on Instagram at @changeourhealth and online at http://www.changethenarrativellc.com/
The information provided is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided here should be considered medical advice or treatment recommendations. Consult with your health care provider if you have questions about incorporating CBD into your wellness regimen.