Dear gorgeous green girls!
As a new mother seven years ago, I battled PPD - Postpartum Depression for nine months and in the past few years, I’ve had a fair share of stress and physical ailments that stemmed from non-physical issues. Every time I’ve thought of reaching out for professional help or any help for that matter, I’ve either reconsidered because of well-meaning inputs (“postpartum depression is only in new moms who do not have help or support!”), wondered if it is the right thing to do (“do happy women need to care for their mental wellbeing?”), and then chickened out the last moment. I also grew up in a culture, where mental wellbeing was not a topic one discussed openly, even if it was wrecking you in some ways.
Over the years, I’ve observed many women battle their internal demons unsuccessfully; but rarely have I seen anyone reach out for help they desperately need or do something proactively about letting go of the baggage that they’re saddled down with. Sadly, reaching out for mental health help is still a taboo in our society.
The more I look around and within, the more I’m convinced that ignoring our mental wellbeing and pushing down our feelings in the name of “I’m strong” can actually have a long lasting negative impact on our whole being. And the ripple effect of it can be damaging for the people we are close to.
Here are some ways to nurture our mental wellbeing, especially in a time when we’re cooped up inside our homes.
Note: I'm not a psychologist or a certified mental health expert. However, I am a Certified Health Coach & Certified Women's Wellness Educator, and this article is based on what I've experienced and observed in the women's health arena.
1. Reach out for help. If there’s something I’ve learnt over the years (by talking to friends who are pro-mental wellbeing and observing how damaging not seeking help is) , it’s that there is no shame in reaching out for help. It could mean a simple phone call to a trusted friend or a call with a trained counsellor/psychologist to air the issue and find ways to deal with it.
2. Meditate. I get that our minds are like chattering monkeys. But I’ve found that sitting crosslegged on the bed and listening to a meditation track or chanting Om can calm the mind down and soothe the tumultuous thoughts.
3. Exercise. Stress is part of our lives, but when we’re huddled inside our homes without any physical activity, it shoots up more quickly. Refer to exercise tutorials by fitness experts or yoga teachers online and stretch those muscles and work up a sweat. The endorphins that get released through the body will help cope with whatever it is that’s been bothering you.
4. Learn to define your boundaries. When we’re already living in each other’s pockets, it is even more imperative to create our own little space, and have certain boundaries that'll help us stay balanced. Even in our everyday life and dealings with people, know what your boundaries are and how much (stress, criticism, other people’s baggage, emotions etc.) you’re ready to take on before you give yourself permission to step back. Having no boundaries and absorbing too much of energy from others around you, can sometimes push you to your wit’s end.
5. Find coping mechanisms and let go of excess baggage. We often accumulate unnecessary baggage in the forms of memories, thoughts, guilt, rage and resentment, and stockpile it like a country going into nuclear warfare. Try to let go of all those emotions that aren’t serving you. Again, reach out for help, especially professional help, when you feel that you cannot unload all of it yourself or need someone to show you the light when things feel too dark. Just like you clean up your house, de-clutter what you store inside your head and heart, so it doesn’t turn into toxicity that manifests as physical ailments (trust me, I know this from first-hand experience).
6. Write a gratitude journal. However bad your day might seem to be, write down three to five things that you are grateful for that day. It could be something as simple but powerful as fresh food in your fridge and clean water to drink, or things that have added a sparkle to your days.
7. Know that caring for your mental wellbeing and taking measures to destress are not a sign of weakness. Be brave and let go of perceived stigmas that many people in India still attach to seeking help for mental and emotional issues.
What are your favourite methods for caring for your mental wellbeing? Let me know in the comments below.
Have a healthy lockdown!
Stay well and take care of yourselves,