5 Ways I’m Putting My Mental Health First Right Now
6 minutes read
There is no escaping from the fact that the pandemic took a severe toll on our collective wellbeing. Approaching year three, we’ve pretty much adapted well to the new normal. Experts have revealed that many people have found silver linings in their experiences and noted the pandemic as a positive accelerant for change.
To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10, with the 2022 theme ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, I am sharing five things I did during the pandemic worth pondering about.
1. I stopped giving the wrong people power over me
For the longest time, I allowed people’s perceptions of me to influence, dictate and confuse who I was. This led me to live in a cloud of paranoia, anxiety, and depression. Every day I had to hope things would change. Eventually, I got fed up.
The pandemic knocked me off. It started with a thought: how can I allow people to take my inner peace despite them living thousands of miles away?
The moment you allow someone to influence how you think, feel, or behave negatively, you give them power over you.
I finally came to my senses when I realised that despite my best efforts, the same people had the same things to say about me. As Yehuda Berg says, “Hurt people, hurt people,” and people manipulate out of brokenness.
There was no one to blame here, but myself and that’s why the consequences fell on me alone.
If someone is affecting your emotions in a damaging manner, take positive action. Either change the situation or change how you respond.
2. Keeping on with travel therapy
I love what I do for a living. Writing is and will always be a lifetime passion, but there are days when it can be monotonous and mundane. The strict lockdowns we all shared during the early days of the pandemic made me realise travelling was my therapy.
While taking a screen break, getting a power hug from a loved one, a quick pumpkin-spiced latte run, or a midday shower can provide a short, happy escape, there’s nothing quite like switching off for an entire week off to a wanderlust-worthy destination.
Research says travelling can broaden your perspective, make you more outgoing, and open to new ideas, increase awareness and boost creativity. It also provides a constant urge to continue learning.
It doesn’t necessarily have to involve boarding a plane. It can be a weekend road trip to a new town or city, and it can just provide the same sense of satisfaction.
A 2020 study published in the journal Nature found that people who see more changes in scenery day-to-day tend to be happier; it couldn’t be more accurate for me.
Sometimes, when we get too overwhelmed or encamped with work and daily demands, we can get distracted from what matters.
I have been to 20 countries and lived in three different ones. It’s a promise that when all else fails, there’s a world so beautiful to explore. So, if you get the chance, go to an unknown place. Discover a different world and discover yourself.
3. Rebuilding my relationship with food
There was a time in my life when I water fasted for one month to shed weight. It was outrageous and unhealthy. While some claimed fasting is healthy, I did it for the sole purpose of looking lighter.
For some reason, most people find commenting on other people’s weight gain or weight loss harmless. But such remarks are often detrimental no matter how good our intentions may be.
One unsolicited comment can damage someone’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, over 6 in every ten women feel negative about their bodies, so, by default, they are drawn to fad diet cultures that cause more harm than good.
I started to rebuild a healthy relationship with food. Choosing food that nourishes and helps my body function optimally, lots of green smoothies and juices, more plant-based meals, and less meat. But I also didn’t throw away the pleasure of food, so guilt-free cheeseburgers and chips days are not out of the picture.
4. Using social media responsibly
Excessive use of social media can be addictive. During the pandemic, that’s all I wanted to do: scroll and share. I went on countless social media detoxes and failed terribly. I deleted the apps and downloaded them again. It led to craving their use even more.
My mindless scrolling turned to compulsive, unhealthy comparisons. Deleting the apps altogether was not an option, given my family and friends all live far from me, but I knew something had to change.
I would be a hypocrite if I said I don’t use Facebook and Instagram because I still do. I share my published stories and adventures not for the world to see but for my digital diary and the nostalgic reminders of what I was up to five or seven years ago on a specific day.
A hack I’ve employed is to set a time limit on my phone for one hour every day. That’s when I flood my timelines and close the app after.
Experts say the key to digital media use and happiness is limited use. Aim to spend no more than two hours a day on digital media.
Not to mention that prolonged and excessive exposure to blue light can add years to your skin. I don’t want to age because of social media scrolling, and, thankfully, the added protection I get from my Clarins Double Serum, £60 and Double Serum Eye, £56, wards off the negative effects of blue light.
Read next: How To Protect Your Skin Against Blue Light
5. Filtering advice from people
To get anywhere in life, we need advice from people. This is a necessity, and a life hack followed even by the most successful people. However, not all advice is good advice, especially if they are emotional opinions or creates conflicts with your core values.
People have pre-existing beliefs because that’s how they’ve lived most of their lives or the society and environment they live in. While the intention is and will always be well, your life and theirs are shaped by different things. What works for them will not necessarily work for you, and life goes on.
If you feel anxious, depressed, or need someone to talk to, please call the Samaritans anytime, for free, from any phone, on 116 123. You aren’t alone, even if it feels that way. Here are some more NHS-recommended support groups who want you to call if you’re struggling with ill mental health.
Starting my day making my bed has had the most profound impact on my life. Another habit that has immensely improved my mental health is making my bed. Read How Making My Bed Changed My Life.
-Anne Lora Scagliusi
Skin & Beauty