I’ve been thinking a lot about my mental health.
I know I take care of my physical self: I eat right, exercise, use SPF, stretch, drink water, etc. But do I do that for my mental health? Am I giving myself the proper tools to grow mentally?
To some degree yes, but not enough. I push myself to my limits on a weekly basis. I overestimate how much I can handle. I let my fears and anxieties run the show. No is not in my vocabulary. I ignore the tiny, tired voice that says maybe I need a break. And although I get things done and accomplish so much, is it worth it?
In grad school, they have been pushing us to take care of ourselves. Which is super important because if we are supposed to help others, we need to be at full strength. My lab leader said that our society thrives off of this “working culture”. That we see value in hard work and shame those who take breaks/don’t work. So we’ve internalized this message that we must always be working. Even if we are exhausted. Even if we are barely keeping it together. And when we do take breaks, we feel guilty or that we’re falling behind. I mean, when was the last time someone asked you what you did over the weekend and you said, “Nothing, truly nothing…and it was amazing” and actually meant it without feeling guilty about the work that’s waiting for you?
I didn’t realize how much of that was me. I feel like I am always going, and going, and g o i n g. I need to change. So I have been reflecting and came up with a list that feels right for me. I’ve been observing small things that can make a huge change. This is what I’ve come up with so far:
What I think is what I feel. What I tell myself will circulate in me, either building me up or tearing me down. Do the words I say to myself make a home or a prison? I want to use my thoughts to fill myself with love. I want to think good thoughts. I want to be more kind to myself. Sometimes, I take a much needed break but beat myself up about it because I think about all the work I could be doing at this moment. How toxic is that. How sad that I don’t allow myself to rest. The words and thoughts I have shape the way I see the world around me. And, the world/the universe/this life is working for me, if I choose to see it that way.
As I’ve started grad school, I have never felt more in line with who I am. I feel like all the pieces have fit together, and it feels amazing. I want to keep it up, but how? Maybe guided meditations in the morning. Taking more walks – no music or making mental to do lists – just clean, fresh air. Nature. A connection to something bigger than myself. I think people forget how soothing a walk can be, with no specific goal or aim, but just to move. Just to be. To feel grateful for the trees, the air, this life, and how the sun still warms you even when it’s 28 degrees out.
I love writing. I love sharing my thoughts with people. But I’ve stopped writing in my personal journal. I’ve had a journal since the third grade. Somehow now at 25, I’ve lost that eagerness to write in it before bed. I’m going to get back to that. Writing the events of the day. Writing my thoughts and not bottling them up. And being honest with what I feel, too.
letting people in + help
I have this bad habit of dealing with things on my own. I don’t want others to worry or to stress over me. And it needs to stop. There is strength in numbers. Growth in vulnerability. There is love. There is support. I think my biggest thing to learn is that I, too, can ask for help. I will always give help, it’s just who I am. But I am worthy of help as well.
Bottom lime: Learn to accept love. Learn to accept help.
be authentic + be genuine to myself
Of course there is always room for improvement, but I feel like I am pretty good at staying true to myself with others. So, this is mostly towards myself. Again, I tend to tell myself that I’m fine and everything is fine, when it is most certainly not. I tend to over exert myself to help others. I tend to put my needs/wants in the backseat. I
want need to be able to recognize when I’ve had enough. I want need to recognize when I need a break. When I’ve exhausted all my resources and need to recharge. The current me doesn’t and as a result, I am t i r e d. I run on fumes sometimes. I want to be true to myself, for myself.
Oh, and I also want to learn to be okay with it when people mistake my self-care for selfishness. The right people will understand.
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So what’s next?
Heal, grow, and help others.