This is something I’ve been struggling with the idea of for a couple weeks but I think being on the upswing is as good a time as any to finally do this. I am finally taking my mental health seriously and getting help in all areas of my life. And I have to say- it’s working. And it’s working really well at that. I am not pretentiously stating that I am healed and I am the savior for those who are still healing. That isn’t the case at all- I am still healing and still learning. I still have bad days and hard days but my perspective of them has changed. I now know that there is always progress being made and I am willing to put in the work to see those changes. I now know that it’s okay if I still cry now and then about what has happened to me these past weeks. Because I finally believe that the hurt will pass and better things will replace it. I know that it is incredibly difficult to stay positive amongst all the pain of the world but here’s how I’ve been going about it.
My weekly therapy sessions have been one of the most influential things on my journey of healing. Admitting how hurt and broken I was terrified me, and opening up about it was even scarier. But her advice, guidance, and perspective have opened my mind to new ways of healing. One thing that has really impacted my life is her idea that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected. When one is hurting, they are all hurting and when one is strengthening, they all are. It is important to nurture all three elements so that one doesn’t strain itself trying to carry the dead weight of another. Overall, she’s helped me learn to not be so hard on myself and that has completely changed my outlook on my journey of healing.
This seems like common sense but taking this seriously and being mindful in these moments has transformed how I go about my day. I thank myself for every single thing I do for myself. Whether it’s brushing my teeth or buying a smoothie- I am constantly acknowledging all the little ways I love myself. Taking time out of my day to do these things has also been influential. In between classes I sit in the grass and write and, in the mornings I make sure to give myself enough time to see my roommates before I leave. Making time for these small moments of joy throughout the day has changed how I go about my day and my attitude throughout it. These things have helped me realize my value and the confidence to no longer accept a lesser standard than I deserve.
Fueling my mind, body, & spirit:
I have always been a snacker and I have finally accepted that this will likely always be the case. However- switching my snacks to healthier alternatives like multi-grain crackers and dried seaweed has made my body feel stronger and less lethargic. Also adding a smoothie into my diet as a mid-day alternative to coffee has helped me feel refreshed without the added jitters from caffeine. I have also started working out daily, as a concentrated time spent purely on bettering myself. It is incredible how much going to the gym has improved my mood, cleared my mind and helped me find my confidence again.
Cutting out multi-tasking:
There are certain things that require multi-tasking such as cooking or taking notes while listening in class. However, there are certain things that require our full-attention yet, we are reluctant to give it. This is because society has trained us to believe that the ultimate achievement is productivity. Because our brains are used to working on four things at once, when you try to focus on just one, you may feel your mind floating away to think of three other things. Overworking our brain repeatedly creates a pattern of anxious thoughts and it limits our ability to be mindful. I am making small changes to try and train my brain to slow down and give each moment 100% of my attention. It’s almost impossible to have a tirade of negative self-talk when you’re so focused on the positive aspects of a moment. Every day I have a ten-minute walk from where I park my car to my class. When my life was falling apart I spent this walk anxiously worrying and often it lead to me crying before I even made it to class. Now, I make a conscious effort on this walk to just enjoy my music and literally smell the flowers. And you know what? I haven’t cried before class in weeks.
Absorbing affirmative media:
This is a smaller task but I think it’s a helpful one, nonetheless. I listen to a variety of music and read a variety of media. I’ve noticed that when I read poems or listen to songs that I relate to, I feel so much more hopeful. It is so comforting to hear a lyric that makes you realize that someone has been where you’re standing and they made it out alive. I have been listening to and reading things by artists who have struggled with mental illness and it helps to know it is possible to be productive through the pain. There is such great art that has been made from the darkest pains and this has inspired me to work through my own pain in a productive way. Also, there are so many great podcasts that deal with mental health and many are made by successful businesswomen. Their advice and perspective have been super beneficial for me.
The biggest change I have made is my perspective and that was accomplished through all the above steps. Struggling with mental health has been the hardest challenge of my life but to finally be able to say that I am making serious and permanent changes makes me feel so proud. When faced with the task of “feeling better,” the sheer vastness of the problem is at odds with the implied simplicity of the solution. This is an overwhelming task and it is so hard to want an immediate solution that simply, doesn’t exist. Every single day I fight, from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed to remember to be mindful in all things. It is hard work and it is constant work but the results are undeniable. I haven’t felt this much like myself in years. I’m writing with passion again, I’m excited about taking care of myself and, I’m inspired constantly. There are still bad days but now I know that my life is still hopeful and exciting regardless. To anyone struggling with mental health: don’t give up. It is okay to start broken, scared and beaten. Just start, from wherever you are and keep moving forward. I promise, it will get easier.