To be honest, I never really considered the state of my own mental health until 2020. For as long as I can remember, I have had a healthy and positive mindset. I am a natural planner, and I thrive off making lists and plans for all aspects of my life. But, this year, I really struggled with adapting to the “new normal” it added new stresses to my life that I had never experienced.
For the first time ever, I found myself wondering is my mental health, okay? It was so hard for me, the girl who plans everything to live in a world with so many unknowns. I couldn’t really plan anything, and all the plans I had made got turned upside down.
I didn’t realize how much it began to affect me until recently when I took a moment to reflect and see all the signs that I may have missed earlier. As they were happening, I chalked them up to having an off day. But, now I realize they weren’t. All of these factors were contributing to the ill state of my mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million Americans, experience some form of mental illness in a given year. But, yet mental health is still so taboo for so many people and families to talk about. I refuse to let my mental health control my life. So, over the past two months, I have started to take control and do something about it.
But before I tell you what I am doing improve my mental health, let’s talk about some of the warning signs that I may have missed along the way.
1. My positive thoughts were consumed by negative ones
As I mentioned earlier, I am a very positive person. But, over the past few months, I started to focus on the negatives instead of the positives. For example, I spent a lot of energy focused on everything that I couldn’t do. It started to become very overwhelming and depressing. The negative thoughts started to cloud my mind, and it became difficult to see the positive light in anything.
2. My workout schedule was inconsistent
Up until March, I had been working out at my regular cadence of 5-6 days a week. But, when the pandemic hit, I automatically felt consumed with trying to juggle doing everything all at once, and my workout routine was put on the back burner. At the time, I thought it was the right decision. But, looking back, it was a terrible decision as I didn’t realize how much not working out would impact my mental health.
3. Drastic mood change
I found myself becoming very short and snappy with everyone that I love. Especially my husband and daughter, and they didn’t deserve it. I think it’s also important to mention here that I suffer from early menopause, which also impacts my mood. So, it’s really a dummy whammy! But, all in all, I didn’t like who I was becoming. I had no patience, and I honestly felt emotionally unavailable for most of the spring and summer. My demeanour with everyone was short. I literally had/still have no patience for anyone or anything.
4. Extreme lack of focus
Focus is one of my specialties, but not this year. I found myself not being able to focus for extended periods. Which impacted my daily activities at home and at work. I found myself struggling to keep up. This again impacted my mental health as I honestly felt like a failure in many aspects of my life. Unfortunately, brain fog and lack of focus is also a symptom of menopause. So, I’ll have to work extra hard to combat this one.
I recognized this summer that I wasn’t feeling like myself, and I knew that I needed to make a change. I didn’t immediately realize that it was my mental health that was suffering. But after doing some research, I saw the similarities between what I was experiencing and the warning signs for mental illness. So, I knew that I needed to make a change. Here is what I am doing/go to do:
1. Being open and honest about my mental state
I am learning to accept that it’s okay, to not be okay. Which is why I am sharing my story with you. Because until you are completely honest with yourself, you can’t receive the help that you need. I have also shared my feelings and thoughts with my husband and friends, who have been incredibly supportive and have offered to help me in any way they can.
2. Finding a therapist
This year has taught me that monitoring my mental health is so important. So, I decided to get professional help. It will be nice to talk to someone who can provide unbiased solutions and strategies to help me better cope with my daily struggles. However, finding a therapist is kind of like shopping for a car. You need to test drive a few before you find the perfect one. I have found three that I will be interviewing over the next few weeks, and I look forward to connecting with someone who can help get me back on the right path.
3. Refocusing my energy into my workouts
Over the past 8 weeks, I rededicated myself to consistent workouts. It has given me a real breath of fresh air. I have been doing the Build Beginner program on the sweat app. This new form of training has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and empowered me in so many ways. It has given me a confidence boost and made me feel so strong inside and out.
4. Connecting with positive people and sharing positive thoughts
I recently completed an Instagram audit to ensure that I am following and engaging with positive accounts only. Our Instagram account is focused on sharing positive messages to inspire, motivate and empower women. It has allowed me (and Jen) to connect with other women who share some of the same struggles, and it has been so uplifting for me.
5. Taking CBD
I started this at the beginning of the pandemic, and I am still taking it now. It definitely helps calm my mind on days when I feel overwhelmed. I wrote a blog post about it if you’d like to know about my experience.
6. Spending more quality time with my family
Last but not least, I will focus on spending more time with my family. It’s easy to de-prioritize the human connection because we have become such a digital world. So, I want to focus on activities that we can do together that don’t involve phones and screens.
I think if there is one thing that this year has taught me so far. Is that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Because for me, planning was everything. But, you can’t plan in an unpredictable world; doing so will cause you more stress, and ultimately your mental health will suffer.
Now, I’m not saying I’ll never make a plan again because, let’s face it, planning is in my DNA. But, for now, I’m going to just go with the flow and focus solely on the things I can control.