How is your mental health?
I know that I am not alone when I say my mental health has taken a beating during this period. I have gone through a range of emotions from relief, anger, despair, overwhelm to mental exhaustion.
As a content creator, creating has been an outlet for me. Something to make me feel excited, something to look forward to doing because there is not much I look forward to doing these days.
While I don’t have a child or children to look after, I feel like my list of responsibilities is just as overwhelming. I have so much to do that I try to multitask but that ends up with me not doing anything 100% right because my attention is divided. Do you get that feeling too?
You would think a lockdown would ease my list of responsibilities but I don’t think I’ve ever been busier. My Monday to Sunday is the same not because we’re on lockdown but because I’ve always got something to do. Even sleep is a luxury I don’t always get but I make time to catch up on some of my favourite shows :). That is the one reprieve that doesn’t require any effort from me. Just simple enjoyment.
Even if you’re not angry and frustrated with having so much to do, you’re bound to be frustrated at having nothing to do. Or even angry at living every day for the past 2 + months indoors.
If that is you, you’re just angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, one minute at peace, the next minute low, then your mental health has naturally taken a beating.
But with these 10 steps that have helped me, you can get some semblance of control back.
Acknowledge your feelings
Often times, we are made to feel like saying, “I’m not okay” to a how are you question is complaining. How many times have you been asked, how are you? And your automatic response is either to say, I am good or I am okay when deep down you are anything but. Acknowledge your feelings. Sure it’s not everyone who asks us how we are that we feel comfortable being vulnerable with but be honest with yourself. If you can be honest about what you’re feeling then you’re closer to being better than you know. Maybe you don’t want to share but you don’t have to lie either. You can say, I am not okay but I am working on it. And if someone cares enough to probe, share, be vulnerable. The person may be in a position to help you or even offer words of advice. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem solved.
2. Ask yourself WHY
Because you are honest with yourself, you have acknowledged your feelings and are not living in denial. You are sad, you are frustrated, you are angry. Why? Why are you feeling that way? This is how you get better by asking why. No one is in your head, no one will know, now be honest. It could be one thing, it can be a myriad of things but once you acknowledge what is making you feel all these negative emotions, you can work towards resolving it. You may find that you haven’t been sleeping enough, you haven’t been eating well, you may be feeling inadequate. Or it could be all of the above or none of the above, only YOU know. But the rest of the steps below will help you a great deal once you have completed steps 1 and 2.
3. Practise an attitude of gratitude
You’ve probably seen this quote make the rounds on social media of late, it says; Be thankful for what you have, you will end up having more, if you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough. Oprah Winfrey said that.
Write down a list of things you are grateful for every day. It can be five things. It can even be words you say to yourself every day in the mirror. I am thankful for my family, I am thankful I have a place to lay my head at night. I am thankful I have the sense of sight, smell, touch etc.
4. Listen to music & dance a little
Listen, there is scientific research out there that highlights the power of music. According to Harvard, research conducted between 1994 and 1999 showed that music therapy “reduced symptoms of depression. A 2006 study of 60 adults with chronic pain found that music was able to reduce pain, depression, and disability”. A real-life example of this is me last week listening to Same Script by Deborah Cox and Whitney Houston. I bellowed the lyrics while animatedly dancing to the song in my room. My dad’s room is just next door to mine, he must have thought I had lost the plot but I didn’t care, it felt GOOD. I reenacted a very tame version of it in a video here on my Instagram page. Do it, it works. Not Same Script but dance and sing along to your favourite song.
5. Set Goals
Setting Goals gives you something to work towards especially when you make it specific, measurable and achievable. Something as simple as assigning yourself a book to read and complete before the end of the month or even weekly goals; finish two chapters of a book each week. Slow, steady but achievable tasks that won’t overwhelm you.
6. Connect with family/friends
This is something I have been doing a lot of lately. My two siblings and mum are in different parts of the world but I speak with my sister and mum if not every day but every other day and it has been so good for me. Usually, my sister and I don’t get to speak as often because of our different schedules sometimes clash. But even though we are both still busy, we are busy at home so there’s hardly ever a time I call her or she calls me that I’m not able to answer. If not family, speaking to friends can also be very good for your mental health. I have very few people I call friends and I’m a call a friend once every few months kind of person. Not proud of it but it’s how I am but I’ve connected more with friends these past few months and knowing they too are just doing their best to get by helps. Having people to talk to and vice -versa, people to talk to you is very therapeutic. No one should feel isolated during this period.
7. Learn a new skill
I’m a little obsessed with learning. Mostly to do with my work as a content creator. I am currently registered for a course to help with that and I keep looking out for more upskilling opportunities. Between my studies, keeping a home without help, this new course and creating content, I am all over the place but the one thing I have been enjoying is learning new skills. It honestly just makes you feel good about yourself. There is no worse feeling than the feeling that you are lacking certain skills/knowledge/experience and not doing anything about it. Learn. If you can’t afford to pay, there are free courses. Youtube is also a great resource. It can be cooking, learning how to take your own pictures. Anything, just keep learning but don’t overwhelm yourself.
This one I don’t love, I’m not even going to lie. In fact, I have missed out on three days of exercise but it does help. That feeling of rage, sadness, despair, overwhelm can be better managed not only by acknowledging them and asking yourself why you feel those emotions but you can exercise them away. Exercise releases endorphins which are your body’s natural pain killers. Imagine that? You don’t have to suppress your pain with drugs, you can exercise them away. Sex is also a good substitute.
I have found that lack of adequate sleep has been affecting my capacity to function optimally. I honestly can’t say for certain which of these steps have helped the most but I noticed that when I get more than 4/5 hours sleep, I am happier and more at peace. This is something I’ve had to learn about myself. I know I like to sleep but I didn’t know all those weeks of getting max 5 hours sleep was having a negative impact on my mental well being. People are different. Some people are fine on just a few hours sleep, I AM NOT. So when I wake up in the morning after only less than four hours sleep and my body says, bitch, I ain’t ready. I listen and go back to sleep. This has helped my general mood and I find myself more emotionally sound.
10. Take social media breaks
Social media can make you feel shitty about yourself if you let it. For me, it is seeing other content creators’ work and feeling like my content is either not as good or is better but doesn’t have as much engagement. Either way, it can be torturous. Taking time off social media is good for your soul. I think right now people may be bored with more time on their hands than normal so they turn to social media but take the time off, sis. Learn a new skill, sleep, exercise, watch motivational videos do whatever but get off Instagram and Tiktok. I should probably take my own advice, but it is my job so even when I say I am taking time off, I am still online because I have to post to my stories.
Which of these steps have you been practising? Or, which will you adopt and adapt? I implore you to practice all 10 and let me know how you get on.
Take each day as it comes. Plan but be flexible but most importantly, do what makes you happy. Life is too short to focus on things that zap your energy. Worry has no place in your life and I pray that starting today, you take the steps necessary to get yourself towards a more positive and sound emotional space.
I am here for you if you need to talk. DM me on Instagram @thediscerningstylist or email email@example.com. I am not a therapist but I don’t want you to feel alone. A problem shared is a problem solved.
Love & Light.
Images sourced from Canva