I have a confession. For the past month or so intensely, and the past six or so mainly, I’ve lost sight of my mental health.
I’m going to be the first to tell you that doing this was so easy. It’s so easy to not do the things that will help you. You might be in that situation right now. The situation where you have the logical knowledge that you should do something, but instead you do something like procrastinating, watching Netflix, scrolling through social media, or even sleeping.
For me, I put my mental health off by working. I kept making excuses for not doing yoga, for not meditating, for not getting enough sleep. I lost track of my priorities, or rather, I reprioritized in a negative way. It was so easy for me to throw myself into my work and into others, completely neglecting my own health.
Recently, I’ve been in a negative habit pattern. I wake up super tired, drink a lot of coffee, do what I need to do during the day, and pour every “free” minute that I have into other people – whether that be going to coffee, video chatting my best friend, tutoring someone, etc. Every moment I have that was not filled with a planned activity was then filled with going somewhere or doing something that was outside myself. I left no time for myself.
What happened when I did this?
I didn’t get enough sleep.
I didn’t appreciate the little things like I used to.
I didn’t get fulfillment out of the things I used to love.
I began to suffer from anxiety.
I no longer felt inspired to work.
I stopped eating well.
I began to feel nauseous every morning.
I felt inadequate.
I felt like I was a failure.
I couldn’t acknowledge the simplest successes.
I focused entirely on my failures. My number of failures grew.
And you know what I did about this? Nothing.
For a long time, I ignored all of this. I didn’t want to deal with the problem. In the back of my mind, I was hating myself for the way I was, but I pushed that back by never giving myself the space to process what was happening or how to solve it.
I want you to know that if you are going through something like this, you’re not alone. It happens to all of us, including me, and that doesn’t mean you’re a failure or you won’t succeed, even though it may feel like that.
What it does mean, is that you need guidance and adjustment.
I’m finally able to admit that I’ve been in this season of my life for a considerable period of time.
Why? There were three major steps that led me to where I am today:
1. I gained inspiration and insight from a mentor.
My yoga teacher, Ms. Alley, who had recently retired, came back to my health class to teach about mindfulness. The first day that she came back, and she explained in a beginner’s fashion what mindfulness is and how it will help you, I realized how much I had lost sight of my practice. That was a major step in realizing how much I had actually fallen off my mental health practices.
2. I gave myself time to think.
This past weekend, I went to Flagstaff. Finally, after months of not really giving myself space to process, I took a walk on my old walking route by my old house and let it go. I came to a few major realizations, including:
• I’ve been spending too much time being others-focused that I forgot to work on myself.
• I have been spending too much energy trying to portray myself a certain way, that I forgot to actually be that certain way.
• It’s time to let go of the past, and it’s important that I let go of the future. Being in the moment is much more important than I’ve been giving it credit for.
3. I took action.
Once I finally owned the way I was feeling, I decided I was fed up with it. I needed to make a change, and I needed to make it now. After contemplation, I decided on a few actionable steps I can take to improve the situation:
• I need to create a consistent yoga practice again. To do this, I found a 30-day yoga series by Yoga with Adriene that I’ve promised myself I will make space to do each day.
• I need to create a consistent meditation practice. To do this, I will spend 10 minutes each day at sunset meditating no matter the circumstances.
• Every morning, I will do a “greeting the day” practice I learned in Alaska.
• I will spend my time doing focused work – no more watching Netflix in the background of math homework and texting in the middle of biology. When I work, I will work focused, so that I can make time for what really matters.
• When I do spend time with others, it will be intentional. I will be present and not use others as an excuse to procrastinate or avoid feelings.
• I will write one page each morning and journal each night to ensure I’m processing things in a healthy way.
It may seem like a lot of changes all at once, which it may very well be. I know it will take time to institute all these changes, and I vow to be compassionate with myself in this journey.
For September, my theme is self-care. This may mean I pull back a bit from making advances to help others, but I’m still here for you, and if you need some of that #1 inspiration, reach out and we will schedule a consultation.
I hope you all don’t forget your mental health. Let me know what you’ll do this week to ensure you stay healthy!