I’m going to preface this post by emphasizing that I’m not a mental health professional. Just someone who thinks about this kind of stuff all the time. If you feel like you need professional help, please please please don’t hesitate and go seek it out. As you’ll continue to read, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of your mind. The stigma that there is needs to be stripped down and thrown out.
So I’m going to be real and say that this time of year overwhelms me. Not only does it get dark at like 4 pm, but the whole holiday hoopla just stresses me out. I’m not the best gift giver (i.e. I leave it all to the last minute), and with all the travel we do at the end of the year, it’s a bit much.
But putting aside the time of year, overwhelm can come at any time. And so can other not so fun feelings and emotions. And oftentimes, people walk around with a cloud hanging over their head all year round.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve read a ton of stories recently about people seeking help after years of dealing with anxiety and/or depression. Therapy, meds, whatever it takes. I truly admire people who find the courage to say, “Something doesn’t feel right to me. I need help.” And I wish our society at large encouraged this type of thinking. Because right now, I personally feel like instead of encouragement there’s a whole lot of shame weaved into the messaging we hear.
Maybe it’s me, but I feel like we hire personal trainers and get gym memberships for our physical health, but when it comes to mental health and doing what you need to do, it’s very hush hush. In the same vein, when you have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, etc., you go to the doctor and take medications. But when the most complex organ in the human body is telling you something is off, there’s resistance against seeking professional help.
And don’t get me started on social media and how that contributes to all of this. This is precisely why I’m an advocate for sharing the good AND the not so good. In doing so, I’ve connected with some amazing people who relate to my struggles and lows. Courageous, vulnerable, real stories build emotional connection. Period. And even though connection alone isn’t going to fix everyone’s mental health challenges, it does open your eyes to the fact that you’re not the only one who feels or thinks X, Y, and Z.
My personal story is that I have to monitor my thoughts very carefully. It’s easy for me to go from ok to Debbie downer. When I feel myself falling down the rabbit hole of doom, I have to change the story I’m telling myself and focus more on gratitude. Having fun things on the horizon also puts a pep in my step, so I have to be proactive about scheduling lunches/meetups/events with Kaiden, especially in the winter when it’s not easy to just go out for a quick walk. I also have to disconnect and let my mind clear a little.
I know what I ‘suffer’ from (as noted above) pales in comparison to what others go through on a day-to-day basis. But that’s why I’m sharing this post. Regardless of where you fall in terms of severity, it’s important to recognize your emotions and take the best next steps. Like I said before, we do it for our physical health, so why not our mental…?
Look, I’m not going to list all the ways you can work on your mental health. Because there’s no one size fits all solution here, and because I’m not a mental health professional. Just like everyone else, I’m trying to get through the day as sanely as possible! But I do recognize that I want to be a good role model for my son, and I want to continue to have strong relationships with my husband, family, and friends. And for me, that means making my mental health a priority. Regardless of how taboo a topic it might be (especially in the South Asian community).
So FOR PARITA, this looks like prioritizing sleep (and sleeping in when my little monster lets me!), reading books that speak to my soul, eating well 80% of the time and indulging when delicious opportunities present themselves, moving my body in a way that feels good to me and not in a way that works for everyone else, talking to someone (usually Vishnu or my sister) when I do feel a little funky (ha!), watching my favorite TV shows and not feeling guiling for vegging out on the couch, staying in touch with people who life me up and inspire me, not trying to be supermom/superwife and recognizing that some days being ‘good enough’ is good enough, etc.
NOTE: I have days where none of the above happens. I have days where some of it happens. And then there are the in between days. There’s no perfect formula, but as I get older, I’m working that much harder on what works for me and what doesn’t.
And to be quite honest, if I needed help beyond this, I would seek it out. THERE’S NO SHAME IN THAT! My child depends on me to take care of my mind, body, and soul, and you better believe I’m going to do just that no matter how hard I have to work!
And my final thought on this topic is to reach out to your family, friend, coworkers and ask them how they’re doing. But don’t just ask…support them as well! Share your stories and let them know you’re there for them.