I specifically wanted to post this after “mental health awareness week” because mental health isn’t a day or a week it’s a lifetime. We have minds, which means we should all be considering our mental health in the same way as we have bodies and need to consider our physical health.
That being said I do appreciate that more and more the stigma around mental health is being lifted, and that more individuals and organizations are rallying to create both awareness and change. Mental health is not managing your moods so you can be “normal” or like everyone else. Yoga and exercise don’t fix mental health issues. Just like our physical health, mental health is complex and always changing. But we can do things to support the foundation of our mental health in the same way we do to keep our bodies strong and resilient. And also, just like we can’t exercise once a year and expect our bodies to get all they need from that one time, the very same goes for our mental health. One day, or one week of mindfulness work or paying attention to our mental health is not going to help us long term.
That’s the tough part around these awareness weeks. Anyone with even a baseline of anxiety or depression (which is basically everyone) trying to cram everything into one week is completely overwhelming. Suddenly all the lights are shining down on the most vulnerable parts of us. Those that have been public around their mental health are asked to step into the spotlight and share, which is amazing if you are having a great week not so great if you aren’t. For this one week everyone is talking about mental health and posting about mental health and it becomes overwhelming and no one knows what to do or what won’t make them feel even more awkward, anxious or triggered than they already do.
Coming back to the concept of setting up a foundation of care for our mental health is not only where we need to start, but where we need to come back to every day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, sometimes just a few minutes carved out throughout the day can add up to a lot. And yes, most definitely taking care of our physical health supports our mental health. So, exercise and eat well, but also make getting rest and a good night sleep a priority. Reduce stress by making changes in both your daily routine but also your life in general. Ask for help, learn how to meditate, or finally commit to a meditation practice.
This isn’t a week. This is your life.
If you are looking for help creating a daily self-care practice that is personal for you, I’m offering my live/virtual course, Yoga for Mental Well-Being: Creating a Daily Practice on Saturday, May 29th 10am-2pm EDT. If you want to get started right away, check out my 2-hr online course of the same name here. If you need a little extra help through the healing process please reach out, I also offer one on one Yoga Therapy sessions.