When you think about health, our physical is where our thoughts immediately go to. Often overlooked but equally important is our mental and emotional health. These two things have a HUGE impact on our physical health and our ability to not only perform physically, but just to get up and attempt to make it through the day. When our mental and emotional health is poor, it negatively impacts the other areas of our life. As women (especially those of color) this is something that we don’t talk about publicly and we often hide or push by the wayside. Recently, this topic has come up multiple times and in multiple ways, making it apparent that it’s time to speak up and bring attention to it.
Although I am getting better at it. I too am guilty of not taking time to deal with my mental and emotional stress. Back when I was in corporate America, I was under so much stress and pressure that my emotional, mental and physical health were ALL in the negative. I was being pressed to be the best at work, being pulled in multiple directions, studying for my MBA and just trying to not suck at life. As a result, I was spending $100 on 4 migraine pills multiple times a month just to get to the point of average functionality. It took leaving that world to help me realize the importance of my overall health and well-being and to put me first. I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have time or I don’t have a choice…I HAVE to do x,y,z and I can wait. Well let me tell you, this is the WRONG approach. You can’t wait, nor should you have to. YOU are the most important thing in your life and when you’re not operating at your best, everything else in your life will suffer. And trust me when I say, you don’t want to hit the meltdown point before seeing help and YOU TIME.
It’s not just me, it may be you or someone around you. A dear friend of mine just recently went through a breakdown and was brave enough to share her story, which I am now sharing with you in hopes that it will spread awareness and self-review to see where your mental and emotional health stand.
I’m typically not one to share super personal stuff here but this is VERY important, and something not enough of us take seriously: O U R M E N T A L H E A L T H.
My mental health is seriously compromised at this time. I’ve always considered myself to be reasonably strong, but with the stress of my mother being near the end of her life and being the only family resource/advocate when dealing with the rehab hospital and hospice team on top of my own health issues, injuries, and work, it has all become too much, and unfortunately it manifested itself in a physical attack against my body and well being. I saw my PCP yesterday (Dr. Johari, whom I am VERY grateful for, if your in the Murphy area she is exceptional). I have been taken out of work until AT LEAST Monday, and have been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, and depression. I am now on meds to help manage this, and to help me sleep since that isn’t a thing anymore either, until some of these stressors are alleviated.
Did I need to put all of my business on here, and do half of y’all care? Probably not… but too many adults that should know better don’t take mental health/mental illness seriously in this country. For a lot of people it starts with things similar to what I’m dealing with now or losing another family member/husband/wife/lover/significant other/CHILD, or going through divorce, or adultry, or addiction, or gender identity crisis, or coming out of the closet, or losing your job, or …. the list goes on forever! We all have shit we are dealing with, but we all deal with it differently, and SOMETIMES… we can’t handle it alone… AND THATS OK! I couldn’t! I felt myself slipping into a black hole of hopelessness, anger, worthlessness, fear, and the feeling of not being good enough, or strong enough, pretty enough, available enough… and I’ve been stuck there. 😔
Thankfully, I have the most amazing people in my life: my family, friends that I consider family, co-workers that treat me like family, and vice versa (my employer has been amazing thru all of this), and an amazing, supportive, and loving pole/aerial family that recognized this change in me and SPOKE UP! I needed to hear it, because even though I knew I needed help, I felt that I was just being an attention seeking drama queen, and kept telling myself to be stronger and suck it up. I’m not asking for attention here people, If you take anything at all away from this post, let it be this: We all need a little help sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it.
– Dee B.
Ladies, you don’t have to be superwoman. You cannot give your best to anyone if you do not take care of yourself first. You have to find that balance with your mental, physical and emotional health. You are allowed to take mental health days. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to have ME TIME. There is nothing wrong with being human. Know that self care can make all the difference in maintaining a well-balanced life. One practice that I was doing regularly before my accident was keeping my phone on silent until after my am cardio session. ANY and ALL business was put on hold until I did something for me each day. Even with family, if it wasn’t an emergency then I wasn’t responding until after my ME Time. I was able to focus on me and reflect on the day ahead and it was the best downtime. Making this my workout time allowed me to knock out two birds with one stone.
So what are things that you can do?
• Alone time. Unplug from social media, technology and life. Find a quiet place where you can focus on you and do whatever you want to do. Maybe it’s reading, sleeping, foam rolling, Netflixing..whatever. Something that’s just you and just about you.
• Workout. Go to the gym and get your sweat on or take that cycling, kickboxing, aerial yoga, barre or yoga class that you’ve been thinking about.
• Meditation. If you don’t know how to meditate there are plenty of apps you can download on your phone to guide you through the process.
• Relaxing bubble bath. Add epsom salt and lavender essential oils to help the relaxation process.
• Do a little mini-declutter session. Its funny how cleaning up and clearing out a physical space can impact your mentally and emotionally, leaving you feeling lighter and free. Whether its a closet, your clothes drawer, kitchen cabinets or the garage, find a space that you can clean. And even better if you find gently used items to donate that can also make you feel better.
• Treat yourself with a beauty day. Go to the spa, get a manicure or pedicure. Or if you want to be bold get a new hair style.
• Talking with someone. It doesn’t have to be a doctor or therapist, just someone you trust. You’d probably be surprised at how many women you know that have or are currently going through the same thing.
Understand that these things aren’t a one-time deal. Self-care is ongoing and should be a regular part of your life. Just as going to work, your beauty/skin/hair routine, gassing up your car and cleaning your house.