Each time I’ve opened up about my anxiety, I feel like I am always opening up about an endless unknown road. It has shortcuts and long stretches, that I sometimes know like the back of my hand, and sometimes, I do not. Letting go of that control, is a difficult task to sit with. My anxiety tells me that if I just control a little harder, if I manage things a bit tighter, than I’d surely feel better. The thing is, I am not the best manager. As a result, many things can often get buried in, while the world feels spinning with chaos around and with me.
To be clear, it isn’t just anxiety. Since I’ve been in therapy steadily for a few years has allowed me to uncover and accept my past history. Past history that can often be brushed under the rug of “everything else.” While so many young people are seeking help, and learning to let-go of self-judgement and confusion when it comes to assessing their own mental health, I still see the need within so many groups of women. It’s something I am quietly undoing within my friends and family, hoping that real and honest conversations about what we carry within our generations, is discussed and healed, in the confines of a safe space that is created and dedicated to us.
Since today is World Mental Health Day, it felt like a good day to share a few ways I am taking care of my mental health this fall:
- I try hard to show up for therapy every week. I use to go when I was in the middle of a crisis. With this political climate and life, times call for regular inner check-ins. I look forward to this time. I need this time. My mind and body deserve this time.
- I’m open about being quiet when I need to be quiet. I used to go to everything for everyone. After last winter, I realized that it was unsustainable, and I did many things I did not enjoy. I did them because I felt obligated to. Which only made me feel worse. These days, I don’t push myself in that way anymore. It is the same with texts and calls.
- I organize and clean. I was raised to believe that a clean house means a clean mind. It is something that I’ve stuck to when I feel like I’m losing it a bit, then look around and see that my home represents my mind. The list in my head is always far longer than I’d ever like it, but the only way to help with it is to organize and check things off.
- (Speaking of) I check things off. A dear friend told me to write down three big things and just cross them off. It helps to carry around a notepad, and literally cross the big three things off. Some days include cooking an actual full dinner, folding clothes, sorting through mail, making a phone call, going to (and focusing on) a big meeting, or even, setting up a simple doctor’s appointment (why do they always seem hard?). Those little tasks can add up, and with the mix, they can feel daunting. Write them. Check them.
- I work-out at least once a week. For the last three weeks I’ve been doing a class for an hour or so in the middle of the week. It has helped me get over the hump, and I notice the clear mental shift.
- I access all my tools without guilt. Personally, this means the babysitter, a house cleaner every two weeks, a nap, meditation, a night out, family, Instacart…the list goes on. I am beyond privileged to be able to use these people and these services, and I know without them in my “toolbox” (I’ve been there) I feel lost and terrible. I need help. Needing help and receiving it, is okay!
- I am active when I need to be, and I slow down when I need to. These political times call for us to be active and not complacent. But those that are active also need to rest and recharge, I work to find that within my days days and weeks.
- I talk with my friends! Listen, gather your tribe. I check in and am checked on daily. THIS HELPS. Show up. Keep showing up.
Okay, that’s enough for me. How are you taking care of your mental health this fall? Please share!
(photograph via Land Of Women by Heather Hazzan)
Unplugging from whatever I need to in order to collect my thoughts. Sometimes like this last eeek it means less DocuSign media, reading my bible and less phone convos. I’ve also learned to communicate that to my loved ones so that if I seem stand-off ish it’s not personal I’m just needing that time to regroup.
I love this, Vana. I have learned that sometimes its just as important to communicate that you are not available or that you need space, so it isn’t interpreted as something else. And then it really gives you room to breathe etc.
Currently (it changes/transforms daily/weekly/monthly/yearly) it’s acknowledging my feelings/fears/struggles/happiness and allowing them space. Not brushing them under the carpet to ignore them or pretend they aren’t important or don’t exist. It seems to help me understand how I can take care of myself. And that helps me to be available in better ways for my family. Something I always do when I communicate with others is use terms like beautiful and darling and sweetie after ‘Hi’ and I almost always note the little jolt of happiness it gives the other person. And this makes me feel good. I just moved from New Zealand to NY with two kiddies into a new marriage and the struggle is real and lonely. Making a new life, protecting my kind-hearted kids, feeling like I actually contribute when I’m not currently financially contributing? They all weigh heavy. So I rock those feelings and find happiness in moments. If I sit down in my day, like to write this, I must consciously release the guilt. Finding your site has been a blessing.
Thank you Tanya for the note. And congratulations on your move, its such a big one! I’m sure feelings are mixed and there is so much to process. I do the same, acknowledging. It really does help. I am sure you are contributing so much (just by being a parent and taking care of your kids!) and I hope the transition smoothes out a bit. I love fall and winter in New York, gives a little more time to sit with ourselves and any big things remaining from the summer. Sending love!