I wanted to write a blog post about photography tips from an amateur, but that will have to wait. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been stressed, anxious, and nervous about the personal, professional, and academic portions of my life. It’s that time of the year when assignments are due, finals are coming up, and for me, my work term with the best workplace I’ve ever been in is ending.
Everyone experiences mental health issues, some to a more severe degree than others. I’ve been fortunate enough to not develop any serious mental health problems that have impacted me for a significant time in my life, though I do go through the same emotions of depression, anxiety, nervousness, stress, and loneliness that others do. It’s simply a way of life, and the more we acknowledge mental health, the more we can do to help others.
I won’t pretend like I know much about mental health. I know the basics: that mental health is and should be a priority, that mental health has a stigma, and that mental health will always be a present, and necessary, part of our lives that we need to maintain.
The conversation around mental health is evolving for the better, but there is always work to be done. Openly discussing our mental health problems with others is an act of vulnerability. It is exposing one’s internal emotions to another, and is also an act of strength.
Often, displaying vulnerability and emotions can be viewed as weak or misguided. Yet, how is vulnerability weak when leaders in our communities often expose their trials and emotions? I believe that vulnerability is key to being a leader. Everyone has their definition of leadership. Mine is compassion, empathy, and vulnerability.
I have a 120 page story due in less than two weeks that’s amplifying my stress to a whole other degree. It’s not a pretty sight to see when I’m sitting in the middle of my room half-crying and half-laughing because my story is taking a whole other turn I didn’t expect it to (which means major edits).
I am wracked with anxiety surrounding the ambiguity of my work. What am I going to do when I finish at my current job? Will anyone want to hire me? How will I find a part time job that encourages my self growth, and places me on a path of continual development?
Somehow, right now, I feel okay. I don’t feel too overwhelmed and I’m comfortably writing this blog post. Every part of me is thankful that my friends, co-workers, and university encourage and promote the practice of self care.
Make self care a habit, know that you deserve it, and always, always do it. Self care comes in all shapes and forms. Drink some tea, lie down for a few minutes, meditate, chat with friends, relax between intense work periods. Take time for yourself.
Here are some of the ways I practice self care. They may not work for you, but these are sure fire ways for me to clear my head, and hopefully they inspire you to discover your own self care methods.
- Read a book – for fun! I feel clogged with all the mandatory readings from my studies, so sometimes sitting down with a thriller novel is the perfect remedy.
- Drink some tea – inhale that warmth, and relax. Mint Tea Blend from Solidaritea is my go-to (obviously).
- Talk with someone – you don’t need to talk about struggles or mental health. Just talking can be the best method to release that stress and engage in stimulating, meaningful interaction.
- Go for a walk – physical exercise is important, and we all know it. Even walking around the house is better than sitting all day.
- Eat delicious food – want some of that fried chicken? Go get it! I know that we should eat healthy when we’re experiencing turmoil, but sometimes that yummy food really hits the spot. You just need to know when to stop.
- Pet a dog – dogs are a natural therapy. We really don’t deserve them.
- Watch Whose Line is it Anyway – this show is hilarious, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Tons of clips are on YouTube!
- Clean up – be productive and organize your space. A clean space is a clean mind.
Remember that you are worthy of self care, no matter what stage you are in right now. Maintaining your mental and physical health is the highest priority over anything else. We can all use a little reminder every now and again to take care of ourselves – we truly do deserve it.