Mental health is a journey that I am still trying to navigate and understand. It’s never easy to truly comprehend what might be wrong beneath the surface, but over time I have found ways to take care of myself and be gentle when confronting my inner turmoil. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in lieu of that, I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned along the way to take care of my mental health.
Your negative feelings are trying to tell you something.
I will never say that I am perfect because I am far from it. I have a tendency to pay attention to toxic people who do not serve a purpose in my life other than to fuel drama, and as a result I feel compelled to talk trash about them. It’s very unhealthy and something that I am trying to work on, however I have come to understand that when I say something mean, it’s a result of me feeling bad about something in my life. I’ve tried to tone down my negative feelings but pay close attention now when it happens and take time to reflect on why it does.
My meditation journey started about 2 years ago and it’s something I am trying very hard to practice every day. If I feel that I am in a bad headspace, I take a moment to sit still in my thoughts for 5 or 10 minutes. If you find that you have a hard time sitting still, I would recommend setting the right atmosphere to make your space relaxing, such as lighting a candle with a calming scent or using a diffuser with an essential oil of your choice. I recently bought crystals to elevate my meditation practice and cleanse negative energy. I usually meditate with clear quartz, amethyst, or selenite for protection and manifestation.
Cut out toxic energy.
Something I did not understand in my early 20’s was that it was not beneficial to have friendships and relationships with people that felt fake. I always thought it was better to be friendly and cordial, but I realized that it did not make me feel good because it felt disingenuous and passive aggressive. Nowadays, if someone or a situation does not feel right in my gut, I don’t waste my energy and time on it. At the end of the day, you are the only person who deserves to be happy and you shouldn’t feel forced to be in uncomfortable situations. The same goes for people you dislike on social media: if you see something that incites a negative reaction from you, don’t be afraid to either mute or unfollow that person or account. Set the boundaries you need and don’t be afraid to say no to the things that do not serve you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 🙅♀️
Talk about it.
It’s never healthy to bottle something up and internalize it. Find at least one person you can confide in if you are going through a hard time who you can trust to listen to you and not judge you. Or, if you have the means to and feel this is the right step, seek professional help with a therapist. The point is that talking about what you are thinking and feeling helps you work through it. Whether it’s taking a moment to vent or having a deep conversation to unearth buried trauma, communication can help to resolve that. I’ve found that if I don’t talk about something and let it fester, I am more likely to unintentionally blow up at another person even though they did not do anything to me directly. The last thing you would want to do is sever ties with someone important to you because you projected your emotional buildup onto them, which is something I have unfortunately done before and have learned from that experience.
Nurture your inner child.
I realized that it’s okay to find joy in the things that made me happy when I was younger, such as watching old TV shows I used to love on the Disney Channel or playing video games. I’ve also recognized that it’s not helpful to be critical of your past self, which is why it is important to celebrate her in ways you used to. Accepting your younger self is not an overnight process, it’s still something I am trying to grapple with today because there are times I admittedly could’ve been a better person or made wiser decisions in certain situations. However, that person will always be a part of you and forgiving them is a crucial part in loving yourself—even if that means cringing at your past actions. And as Mama Ru says, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else, can I get an amen?