Mental health is important, it’s true. In fact, you've probably taken some sort of vacation, splurged on organic bath bombs, and/or subscribed to some kind of essential-oil-sage-bundle box in the name of mental health. If that sounds more like self-care to you, then you haven't considered that mental health and self-care can be one and the same and there may be some reasons you for which you haven't been taking care of yourself that you're overlooking.
Over the past few years, we've warmed up to the idea of taking care of our mental well being just as much as our physical. But it’s important to pause and contemplate what the media may have led us to believe about what it truly means to care for your mental space. Let’s face it the answer to all of our problems can’t be solved with a really great face mask and a lavender bath, but it could be a start.
Caring for your mental health is wonderful, especially when treatment lies in a Sephora splurge. But, how much do you believe in mental health when it's picking at old scars?
We've grown into conscious consumers who scan ingredient labels, hoping to avoid the dreaded "yellow#5" and "enriched" products. Yet, many of us are merely mimicking what the masses say are the correct ways to care for mental health, and wondering why things aren’t actually getting better in our lives.
So, why aren’t you getting the results? You’re lacking personal awareness. The answer isn’t going to be in the self-help books you’re reading, or the seminars you’ve filled your calendar with. You’ve got to go inwards, and when you go inwards, it can get really heavy before it gets light. You’ve got to know your triggers, I mean really know them. You have to find why things agitate you, what does it mean? You have to know what you like outside of the influences of family, friends, and society. Most importantly, you have to explore and hold your boundaries.
Although there isn’t one fix all quick tip, spending time in solitude and reflection can clear the fog. If you want to see a movie but none of your friends are available, go alone. Visit the library see what interest you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- “What makes me excited?”
- “What makes me anxious?”
- “What gives me strength?”
- “What takes away from me?”
These questions are all good starting places.
Whenever you feel hesitation or uncertainty, explore it. Don’t run from it. Get comfortable in the discomfort, as facing those feelings will build your self-confidence. Many of us lack trust in ourselves, especially if we live our lives to please others.
You’re not allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Are you still accepting the lies you’ve been taught as a child to be your adult truths? Many of us have been raised to be strong. We’ve been told being emotional is a weakness, and sadness is something we should avoid. When the opposite is true. Our vulnerabilities make us strong. Dr. Brene Brown states in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable, Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”
After reading that can you begin to understand how a life without space for vulnerability is a life unfulfilled? Being vulnerable allows for all the good to flow in, we allow others to show up, we allow ourselves to be heard, and we allow others our unique perspective. Yes, it can be a paralyzing thought to bring down those tough walls, and admit that we are not untouchable, but it is also comforting to know that we are not the only ones.
How do we get vulnerable? This can be easy or it can be very difficult depending on how high up those walls are. In my personal experience, talking to an expert was the only way to go. Therapy allowed me to speak freely without the fear of offending anyone. Working with a psychologist also provides an unbias perspective into your reflections. This helped me identify thought patterns that were not my own, advocate for mental space, and deal with the very difficult family differences.
Working with a professional is not the only way to work through vulnerability. It’s important to reflect on difficult situations and emotions that don’t feel good. Make a habit of journaling whenever these emotions arise. Make note of the location, who was involved, and what was said as you are likely to find patterns.
The next time you find yourself in a funk, don’t run to the nearest store and engage in retail therapy. Make an effort to check in with yourself first, instead of reaching for that placebo. You deserve to spend the extra time on yourself. Share this with someone who needs a new perspective and comment below your thoughts.