I figured I would take some time to talk about something close to my heart, and that a lot of having been privately struggling with before the pandemic, but likely even more during it, poor mental health. Struggling with your mental health is something that people have been doing for years and often the public stigma around mental health issues leads to unhealthy vices and coping. In recent years, young people have been more open about their struggles which I think is a great thing. But I still wanted to share four things that help me deal with my mental health struggles.
1. Practice Intentional Self Care
Self-care has kind of been watered down in my opinion. Face masks and bubble baths are fantastic, I love them, but they’re not always the best choice. I think that your self-care should be intentional, are you struggling to stay grounded? Then take a walk or try a meditation that helps recenter your emotions. Are you struggling with self-love? Then it’s time to throw on that face mask. Are you overplanning and struggling with anxiety? Take a minute to do something that’s freeing whether that’s reading a book, binging your favorite show. Is depression taking away your willingness to do something? Try something that helps exercise your brain or feel creative like painting, dancing, or coloring.
Your self-care should help you heal a part of your life that’s going off track. But please remember that part may be temporarily injured, but it is not and you are not completely broken beyond repair.
2. Go Outside
This could be as simple going for a walk around the block, a swim (if you have access to a pool), or a picnic alone or with some friends (depending on how well you and your town have social distanced). Being outside helps you feel connected to something and fresh air can be amazing for your overall mood.
3. Clean or Redo Your Space
I actually did this recently when I returned to my Chicago apartment from my parents. I reorganized my closet and finally decorated my living room with my roommate. Having that fresh reset was amazing and really helped me clear out the negative headspace I was coming out of when the pandemic began. I recommend doing this towards the end of a depressive episode or a time of intense anxiety as a way of welcoming in a new and positive phase.
4. Talk to Someone
This is one of the most important things on this list. Therapy is a wonderful thing if you’re coming in with an open mind and a willingness to do the work. It can help you understand why you feel a way about something, heal parts of you that may not be the most healthy, or just vent about something awry depending on what you need and when.
I’ll be transparent: I go to therapy occasionally and have been since a period of intense and extremely unhealthy anxiety during my junior year off college. It helps me center my emotions more often than not. I’ve been checked for being too mean to myself and counseled on how to deal with situations that lead to stress and anxiety more healthily and productively. There’s no shame in getting the help you need if it’s accessible to you.
How do you deal with times when your mental health is not A+? Let me know in the comments.
PS: Check out therapyforblackgirls.com to find a therapist if you feel you may need one.