This year did not start in the way that many of us expected. I’ve seen so many posts about 2020 is over, 2020 is cancelled but I’ve chosen not consume content that is damaging to my mental health. We are all going through tough times right now, whether that is financially or emotionally, and protecting our mental health and prioritising our self-care is paramount.
Currently, I’m working my 9-5 job, at home, trying to cope with this pandemic. I had noticed that I had worked an additional 20 hours both in March and April and I needed to slow down before I burnt myself out. I don’t know why I had worked these extra hours, maybe I was trying to distract myself from the pandemic and my thoughts. Unfortunately, the stress of it all caused me to faint at the beginning of May. The time before I lost unconsciousness scared me. I was grateful that I woke up a few minutes but it taught me that I need to stop, take it slow and work on improving my overall health. I shouldn’t have reached that stage at all and lockdown has shown me that I wasn’t prioritising my self-care and protecting my mental health as much as I thought I was.
How do I balance and protect my mental health?
It’s a question that I continue to ask myself each day and I don’t have all the answers for it.
A few things that have been helping me are taking nature walks and sitting on my balcony to clear my mind and stop me from getting lost in worrying thoughts. Being present and focusing one particular task. I like to do multiple things at once but focusing on one task at a time has made me more productive and aware of my movements. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to finish all my tasks in one day and I can leave some things for the next day. It’s very different to how I used to live pre-pandemic and maybe this is a sign that my strict structure was not beneficial for me and I need to let go and live in the moment.
Protecting my mental health is still an ongoing process and I think it will be for a lifetime. With the scourge of racial injustice and police brutality exploding across all media platforms, I was conflicted whether I should stay current with the news flow or shut myself away to take care of my mind. This pushed me to not only prioritise my mind but also, to prioritise my self-care which intertwined into one activity. Protecting your mental health is a form of self-care. There is not right or wrong way to do it, the most important thing is to find out what works for you. As much as I love to write and let my thoughts flow on paper, journaling does not work for me. I found solace in meditation and prayer. I found peace listening to music that make me feel joy, that make smile while cooking, baking, washing my hair etc. I found stillness drinking tea whilst reading and watching movies.
I wish I had adopted these practices as soon as I went into lockdown but the ‘what ifs’ don’t help any of us in the present. The best thing that we can do is focus on the present, focus on finding and practicing these therapeutic activities that calm our minds and bring peace into our lives so we can continue to plant seeds and nuture ourselves for tomorrow.