9. What Pisses Me Off: Choosing NOT To Talk About Our Mental Health
What Pisses Me Off! Dec 24, 2019
Today is World Mental Health Day and I need to get something off of my chest. Why are we still struggling to talk about mental health in today’s over-sharing society? We talk about everything else, but when it comes to our mental health we clam up. It’s time to stop.
What Pisses Me Off: Choosing NOT to talk about our mental health.
Mental health should not be the elephant in the room.
In my humble opinion, even if you are in the greatest shape of your life, have the job of your dreams, have all the money in the world, or even have been fortunate enough to find the love of your life, if you’re not right with yourself and your mental health is not where it needs to be, you’ll never be the best version of yourself. And why would you want that?
The thing is, in this day and age, fast-paced lifestyles seem to be all the rage.
But, no matter how much stuff we buy or trips we take or experiences we have, it’s like there’s always something missing. The burnout eventually comes and we’re stuck dealing with what’s at our core, with what really drives how we navigate and experience our lives: our mental health.
Pulling from my own experience: I work full-time (and often bring work home), I’ve got a couple of side-hustles on the go, I maintain a moderately active social life, I find time to squeeze in workouts (realistically though, I make a monthly donation to the gym), I try to cook and eat well, and I spend time with my family. I’m supposed to figure out my career, be successful, afford to buy my own place somehow in Toronto (fat chance of that happening anytime soon), and find time to settle down to pop out grandbabies (sorry mom, you’re going to have to wait).
In between all of this, life is never linear or well-behaved and curveballs (many of which seemed to be hurtled straight at my face over the last year) are bound to pop-up, such as loss or financial hardships.
The pressure is bound to get to us eventually and it can really take a toll on one’s mental health – that was the case for me, anyway.
The fact is, I am only human, and that is not a weakness.
However, society today seems to make us feel like we are superhuman, and so, why wouldn’t I be upset that I am just a mere mortal?
Part of the problem is that day-in and day-out, we’re bombarded by these perfectly curated and captioned images or stories from people on social media. The people we see on social media seem to be #livingtheirbestlife, hustling hard every day, and so we begin to think and compare (one of the worst things you can do, FYI). The moments documented on social media are usually the best ones, and we end up with this wild (and largely unrealistic) idea that everyone has it ‘together.’
I’m here to call bullshit on that.
No one has it together.
The other part of the problem is that nurturing ones mental health is not always a priority. Often, at least in my experience, we don’t even realize we’ve got struggles to deal with until we reach some sort of breaking point that makes it impossible to ignore.
I am certain there are plenty of people who are struggling with accepting that they are not at their best right now (hell, neither am I), and I am here to tell you that it’s OK to feel that way and be in that space.
Being in this place where self-doubt is prevalent is rough, I won’t lie. But more importantly, this place of weakness is also a space in which I am finding strength on my journey of self-discovery, which is teaching me that its OK to be human. It’s OK to fall every now and then – the most important part is how you deal with the fallout, learn from it, and grow.
Over the past year, I have been very focused on my mental health and have adopted some strategies (that work for me, for the most part) to get myself back to a place where I felt healthy and in control of myself. Check out it out below:
Prioritizing: For the sake of my sanity, over the past year, I’ve had to take a step back from people who I didn’t feel were adding value to my life. I know it sounds selfish, but if someone is taking away more than they add to your life, they’ve got to go! I also began to say ‘no’ more often to make time for things that I wanted to do (the people-pleaser in me died a little each time, but it didn’t kill me, clearly), such as attending conferences, going for massages, or spending time with friends and family. It’s all about making time for what’s important to you.
Meditation / Taking Breaks: At first, I am not going to lie to you, I thought meditation was ridiculous. I couldn’t understand how it was helping me at all. In the last few weeks of sticking with it consistently though, I have realized how it can help me to start my day with a more relaxed energy and a clearer head. That said if you don’t want to meditate or are not ready to try it yet, when you are getting frustrated or are having a moment, try walking away and just taking a break to clear your head.
Podcasts: After doing my morning meditation, I have a few of my favourite podcasts that I turn to (this is not a paid plug, I swear), such as “The Self Love Fix” with Beatrice Kamau or “On Purpose” with Jay Shetty. I have found that listening to these podcasts has provided me with more of an understanding of my own behaviours. Being able to comprehend and unpack my behaviours and thought processes has also helped me in being able to deal with moments of hardship (either with other people or within myself) in a more constructive way.
Journaling: I took a break from writing for a while. But, as I start to delve deeper into the waters of my mental health journey, I have begun to take notes throughout the day of both positive things, as well as happenings that have triggered negative feelings or thoughts. Having this understanding of what causes me to react or ‘triggers’ me is important so that I can address those issues head-on.
Self-Care: I’ve been focusing more on self-care. For me, this means doing things that nourishes my body, mind, and soul. For instance, I’ve started to force myself to go back to the gym and get those steps in. I’ve also been revamping my skincare routine and eating habits, as I believe that part of putting your best foot forward means that you have to feel good about yourself and be good with the person you see in the mirror. I’ve been educating myself by attending professional development opportunities, such as workshops and conferences, and by listening to podcasts to learn more about myself. I am still working on enriching my soul, which for me, means doing more to make myself happy.
Talk To A Professional: I know in the South Asian community there are stigmas around addressing mental health, which typically means ignoring the problem. But, that’s not healthy and does not serve anyone. I believe that we all need some extra assistance sometimes, and seeking the advice or help of a mental health professional is one of the best things you can do for yourself, in terms of getting additional support so that you can be your best self.
Ghost Social Media: I haven’t deleted my social media accounts, but I have taken a break by deleting the apps from my phone. For me, I kept comparing myself and my life to other people, and that’s just not realistic because, honestly, those people probably don’t have it together the way they make it seem. The main thing I noticed about taking my social media break (going on for almost a month now) is that I’m on my phone a lot less, which has made it easier for me to get into my life and the moment.
R&R: I find it a lot easier to be positive and cope with stress when I am well-rested. Getting sleep is a crucial part of taking care of yourself. Of course, it’s easy to sacrifice sleep or find time to unwind after a long day when you’ve got a million things on the go, but I’m realizing that I’m not operating at my best or giving my all to anything when I’m not rested.
Do not let the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day or cultural limitations make you shy away from living the life you deserve. That said, wherever you are on your journey, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best.
Main Image Photo Credit: www.ednightline.com
Devika (@goberdhan.devika) is an MA graduate who specialized in Political Science at York University. Her passion and research throughout her graduate studies pushed her to learn about and unpack hot button issues. Thus, since starting at ANOKHI in 2016, she has written extensively about many challe...
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