10th October has been assigned as World Mental Health Day to help raise awareness about mental health issues and fight the social stigma surrounding mental health issues. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, I have written extensively about my battle with anxiety. Over the last two weeks with everything going on in my life, my stress and anxiety manifested into physical body aches to the point that I couldn’t get out of bed one morning. Taking care of our minds is just as important as our physical health. When Deepthy reached out to me to contribute to her post for World Mental Health Day, I decided to do a similar post too. I reached out to my blogger friends from across the globe and asked them to share an incident that taught made them aware of mental health issues and their importance.
Here are their responses –
Libby from The Goddess Attainable (USA)
An incident that made you aware of mental health issues and their significance: Years ago, when I lived alone, I used to get really low, feeling sad and lonely inside my small apartment. I used to think that my sad state had to do with my life circumstances and not being able to find a boyfriend. Until one evening, I forced myself to put my coat on, go outside of my apartment, and just go to Chipotle. I had to interact with two people at Chipotle, the person making my food, and the checkout person. I may have exchanged some really brief pleasantries, but that’s about it. I got back in my car with my food and drove home to eat it. And on the way home, I realized I felt 100% happy and back to my normal self. And that this happiness had to do with the fact that I had just interacted with two human beings for a few moments. That’s all. I used to take myself for long and lonely walks when I would feel depressed and it never made me feel any better. In some ways, it actually made me feel worse. But for whatever reason, and still to this day, interacting briefly with human beings, in real life, keeps my mental and emotional state in balance and prevents me from dipping. It’s such an easy thing to do and so obvious that it took me years to even figure out that this was a tool I could use to get me back on track.
What do you do for self-care: I always reach out to loved ones and talk, talk, talk when I’m feeling low. And getting out of my house and interacting with the world, if even for a brief moment is so powerful. Bonding with nature is also one of my favorite things to do to keep me in balance, she always does the trick.
Jen from BOSSSYBABE (Canada)
An incident that made you aware of mental health issues and their significance: The first instance where my mental health was negatively affected was when I was moving from middle school to high school. I had moved out of the area of my middle school and, therefore, no longer in the district of the neighbouring high school that all my childhood friends were going to. It was a huge adjustment, I felt out of place at my new high school, and to be honest, I feel depressed. I felt like no one knew who I was, cared about me and I had few people to confide in. It made me feel really lonely and that was the first time I had to deal with the negative aftermath of a major life “change.” At that age, it was a huge change.
What do you do for self-care: I have used writing as an outlet, one way or another (published or not), my whole life. I kept diaries as a child and young adolescent, I “blogged” randomly on Facebook and different social media sites before I decided to make it a real weekly habit like I do now. I also lean very closely on my sisters and close friends, they’ve always helped center me and provide me much-needed perspective. Also, bread. I lean on bread, I love bread!
Juliette from Sunny Days With Juliette (Across Europe)
An incident that made you aware of mental health issues and their significance: I feel like mental health has always been somewhat of an open topic in my family with some family members suffering from mental illnesses. For instance, I have always seen depression as a serious illness and condition, and not just “feeling sad from time to time”. For the same reason, going to therapy is quite common in my family, and it is actually “what everyone should do at some point in their life” according to my mum! Later in life, I also met friends that had mental health issues and I have also had some more difficult times in my life too. With this background, I always knew mental health was important, but I think it is only recently, when people started talking about it more openly, that I realised taking care of your mental health is not only about taking medication or going to therapy, and that many other things can help too (depending on what the issue is of course!)
What do you do for self-care: Here are two things that I paid attention to more closely lately:
a) I’ve recently realized how important connection with others is (even as an introvert): getting rid of or distancing myself from toxic relationships or friendships that don’t make me feel good and treasuring the ones that do
b) eating less sugar and moving more: I realized that it made me feel better and more confident in my own skin, so even if it’s just tiny improvements, they do go a long way!
Of course, for more serious issues seeking professional help is, in my opinion, the best way to feel better!
Pooja from Lifesfinewhine (Kenya)
An incident that made you aware of mental health issues and their significance: One thing that really opened my eyes to the importance of mental health was when I was in high school and had my first panic attack. I had been ignoring the little signs that told me something needed to change for the sake of my mental health and this was sort of my wake-up call. It made me realize that if I didn’t change my way of life I could do permanent damage to my mental health. It made me realize how important mental health is and how incredibly fragile it is.
What do you do for self-care: I strongly believe that mental health, physical health, and our lifestyle habits are all connected. That’s why I try to maintain lifestyle habits that benefit my mental health. I try to start each morning with fifteen to thirty minutes of meditation. Meditation is so great for your mental health especially if done long-term. It can help you better control your mind and the breathing exercises often done with meditation helps you control your breath which again can be very helpful for disorders such as anxiety.
Another thing I do to take care of my mental health is to have a healthy and regular life. Sleeping the correct eight hours and eating healthy can really benefit your mental health. I know it’s not always easy or possible but trying to have some sort of routine for the most part has been extremely helpful for my mental health.
Amanda from Something to Ponder About (Australia)
Amanda wrote a post about the questions I sent here, you can read her entire response here.
What do you do for self-care:
- Building human relationships can be helpful for various mental health issues. This may especially help those for whom meditation or medications do not sit well. We are, by and large, social beings, even if we are introverted or shy. Often, people want to feel connected and to feel loved.
- For some psychiatric patients, medications don’t help enough without social support. Communities can play a role in giving everyone the attention they deserve. Breaking down the barriers and taboos around mental illness can be incredibly healing and powerful.
- Studies have observed that gentle, caring and kind people are the ones most vulnerable to suffering burnout, depression, or anxiety. If you fall into these categories, it can be helpful to be on the lookout to find ways to modulate your kind behaviour to give yourself time out.
Deepthy from Random Specific Thoughts (India)
An incident that made you aware of mental health issues and their significance: I have this weird habit of losing my voice when talking to authority figures like teachers, doctors, or even strangers at church. I have yet to find a conclusive cause for it but I believe it stems from my lack of confidence (for want of a better phrase) in social settings. This has hampered my communication in several instances and paved the path to even more embarrassing situations. A second scenario, I have witnessed is my classmates belittling mental health disorders. This could be by calling that person certain names or simply making fun of it. Mental health is real and it must be taken care of. Both these instances have instilled in me a personal need to raise awareness of the need to heed mental health.
What do you do for self-care: I’m mostly clueless about my mental health because I never know if I’m sad, depressed, or just a spoilt kid, haha! But what always makes me feel better is indulging myself in my hobbies – be it reading, writing, or drawing with my favourite songs in the background. I, also, enjoy watching a good movie especially those adapted from books I like.
I’ve tried to get responses from bloggers from across continents to share their experiences hoping that it normalizes talking about mental health and self-care. Self-care is not selfish! Putting your mental health first is not selfish. Cutting off from people who trigger your mental health is okay, even if they are your family. Setting healthy boundaries at your workplace is okay. Choosing to grow at your own pace in your career instead of burning out is okay. Cancelling on plans is okay. Taking a break is okay. And above all, going for therapy and getting professional help is completely normal.
What was an experience that taught you the importance of taking care of your mental health? What do you do to take care of your mental health?
PS: Thank you to all the bloggers who took out time to respond to my questions. Owing to everything going on in my life, I haven’t been able to write back to you. Even this post is late, but better late than never.
PPS: Thank you to everyone for your kind words on my last few posts. I have honestly been too overwhelmed to reply to all the comments. I am still in the process of accepting my loss and just, thank you for being such a warm blogging community.
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