My journey of focusing on my mental health started about two years ago. I have gained so much and it is only fair that I share how actively working on my mental health is helping me.
Unleashing my creative potential
It started with my therapist telling me to engage in hobbies that use my hands and feet. And that led me to get back to baking cakes. I went on to experiment and make my own version of healthy cakes using natural ingredients. Creating something gave me joy. And in those 1-2 hours, I was all joy, no anxiety. Here is a sample of my favourite bake (lemony cake with kumquats and oats!)
Searching for more activities, I began knitting last year. I found knitting extremely therapeutic and a great way to be in the present. And I could make some lovely creations for friends and kids around me, too.
I also dabbled in adult colouring and creative writing. See my earlier piece on letter to my fatigue on the BecauseYou blog section.
On a deeper level, all this helped me to pause all that overthinking in my head. I have also been able to balance different aspects of my life better now than just focusing on work at the time. This has helped me do better at my work as well - I was able to write 4 articles on child labour/human rights for the first time in a decade of being in this field!
Expressing myself, explaining my feelings and building healthier relationships with myself and others.
Although hard to articulate using mere words, this has been the most significant point of growth.Therapy helped me to understand my baggage - feelings and needs - and to own and acknowledge them, and thus embrace and accept myself. This difficult process left me with one big reward: self-love.
After acceptance, came the action. Slowly but steadily, I am learning to let go of things that are outside my control, and draining my emotional energy and time (I used to worry incessantly for my parents’ health or how others are perceiving me). I have also started being my own advocate and speaking up for myself and saying what I am feeling no matter how vulnerable that may be – i.e., finding my voice (this one I practiced with immediate family, close friends and at work with colleagues).
Consciously taking steps to be emotionally, mentally and physically healthy.
I started off with massive goals (oh the ambitious me!) and then after the obvious failures, I restarted with baby steps. I used the same formula as I did with creativity – start with what I know, start with what I like, enjoy or love. I started with going for brisk walks in the park in front of my house. I love walks in nature, it instantly helps me to de-stress and the greenery uplifts and soothes my heart. And of course I sleep better. Walks were my way of using my feet, just as my therapist had recommended. I experienced the similar benefits when I started virtual yoga classes recently, surprised that I was actually enjoying them.
Of course, there are times when being regular in my exercise can be a challenge, when work gets the better of me or I am too moody, but I feel the small difference now is that I am conscious of that and strive to get back to it – be it yoga or walks as soon as I can, for as long as long as I can.
For my mental and emotional health, I am finally pro-active at scheduling regular sessions with my therapist/doc. I no longer wait to have episodes or triggers to reach out. It took me a long time to get here!
I had to shift my own narrative and attitude towards my mental health from something I was ashamed of/secretive of, to my mental health being as important for my well-being as is my physical health. Focussing on my mental health has been the most enriching journey of my life that is helping me to bring out the complete and wonderful me. I am grateful that I took this road.
And finally, I leave you with my recent, favourite quote :
In essence, every person’s life is perfect and complete – there is nothing extraneous to be subtracted and nothing lacking to be added. Daisaku Ikeda
Wishing you the best as you travel on your own road to be the perfect and complete you.
Purva is a founding community member and has been part of several BecauseYOU workshops and programs. If you'd like to go on a journey of self discovery with others like her, reach out for a call. Our next Essentials Program starts soon!