Tips to Help You Manage Your Mental HealthWritten by Tigre Haller
Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Despite the fact that many high-profile figures, such as pro athletes Kevin Love, Simone Biles, DeMar DeRozan, and celebrities like Prince Harry have started to publicly discuss their mental health challenges, and others, most recently singer Naomi Judd and some years ago Robin Williams, committed suicide, there is still a huge stigma around mental health issues. Especially when it comes to the workplace. As much as awareness has increased, it’s still difficult for many individuals to talk openly about their struggles. So we tend to slap on the happy face, tell the world everything is fine and forge on.
Discrimination against those who talk about their mental health issues is real. I was actually discriminated against a few years ago at a prior job when I sought out mental health care. Even though my identity wasn’t revealed by the insurance company, management was made aware that “someone” had accessed the services. During our Monday morning staff meeting the owner of the company called out that “someone” by making fun of them and disparaging their need for help. I never sought help again while at that company - which was the last job I had in the United States.
I know for a fact that there was at least one other coworker, perhaps two, who were also in need of assistance. One lady was suffering so terribly that she could hardly function on some days. Instead of encouraging her to get well, she was maligned. Ironically, her immediate boss who was part of the discriminatory practices, would seek out help for his own mental health challenges some time later (and he would learn in a most embarrassing way that mixing alcohol with anti-anxiety medicine is a lethal combination). It was strange and contradictory since the company encouraged physical wellness, provided weekly in-office massages, told us to get outside for a walk and provided healthy snacks.
I’m telling you all this, dear reader, so that you can understand where I was coming from.
Now, many years later, I’m working for a company which doesn’t just pay lip service to the issue. The founders of Beckett Simonon truly care, and have a vested interest in each of their employees. Not as commodities - as human beings. And, making sure we are healthy in all aspects of our lives is of paramount importance to them. Mental health isn’t something to be shunned, buried or hidden away here. On the contrary, we are encouraged to talk openly about our challenges and seek the help we need. We even receive a monthly stipend for therapies, self-improvement classes, or wellness programs.
If we are unable to talk openly about our struggles, and face them head on with the support of loved ones, we tend to bottle them up, let them fester and risk them morphing into something uncontrollable. Drug abuse, alcoholism, bullying, abuse and lashing out are just some of the ways these unresolved issues manifest. Don’t let it happen to you.
For a comprehensive list of resources, and a lot of highly useful information, be sure to check out the fantastic article “Why You Should Care About Men’s Mental Health” written by my colleague Adela.
In this article some of my colleagues and I will share with you our tips on how we manage our personal mental health issues. Hopefully, they will inspire and help you or someone you know.
What Do We Do To Manage Mental Health Issues?
Paola - Office Manager
To be honest with you, before I began working at Beckett Simonon, I didn't worry or take much care of my mental health; that didn't exist. But over time, I understood that your mental health is as important as your physical health, appearance, and other things that you care about more.
Everything has been a process, and I have been learning to take care of mental health step by step.
- In the mornings, I thank myself, my body, life, house, work, and GRATITUDE.
- When I feel overwhelmed, tired, or stressed, I love coloring or painting while listening to some music.
- Long walks by myself are also great for me.
- And why not chillin' and watching a nice movie or TV show? It’s not bad to spend a few hours in bed!
Nicholas - Co-founder
I've been dealing with panic attacks since 2009. Over these years, I've been intrigued by various practices trying to find a solution to "fix" me, from Yoga to meditation to breathing exercises to journaling, etc. Parallel to this, I've been in psychotherapy for the same number of years.
Around 2018 I completely abandoned finding a "solution" and learned to accept my anxiety. It wasn't about neglecting it. It was about stopping the fight against it. Although it often felt precisely that way, my mind and I aren't two separate entities fighting each other. Accepting this took me way too many years, but it has helped diminish the feeling of having an obligation to try every possible technique or activity to fix it.
I've learned to take care of myself as a whole, mentally and physically, and understanding this interconnectedness has led me to a whole lifestyle. In recent years, through trial and error, I've deepened my knowledge of what works well for my body and mind.
I eat in a way that helps me have stable glucose levels and a good microbiome. I avoid sugars, industrial seed oils, and gluten and focus on eating natural whole foods with minimal processing. I started with this very intuitively and then self-taught myself about the physiological and psychological aspects. Did you know that the gut produces about 95 percent of the serotonin available to the body in humans? In simple words, what you eat has a severe effect on your brain.
I'm pretty active, and for the last 3.5 years, I've been doing road cycling and mountain biking about four times a week. The aerobic and anaerobic effects of the sport are unquestionable, but I was drawn to it more because I genuinely enjoy time outdoors. From it, I learned how important it is to have some sun exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels and help regulate my circadian rhythm. All of this finally led me to have good restorative sleep. Cycling also brought me back to breathing techniques and their relation with heart rate and your nervous system.
I still journal, meditate, and occasionally do yoga. But not because I have any expectations or goals with it. Just because I enjoy it.
In summary, what works well for me is focused on food, body movement, time in nature, sun exposure, breathing and sleep.
PS: I haven't had a panic attack since 2017.
Leon - Customer Happiness Agent
Take it one day at a time. Live in the moment is hard some days. Sometimes there’s a lot of stress or a lot of things going on, so I tell myself that things went wrong today, but tomorrow I will feel and act differently. I'll be less tired, less angry, less afraid, etc. That way I know one bad day is not the end of the world, and I ease the weight in my head and my body as that bad day doesn't feel so important anymore.
It's pure self-talking. I take a moment to breathe. For example, if I feel really stressed about something I stop as soon as I realize, then talk to myself and say "hey I'm tired that's why I feel this is too heavy but it will pass," then try to breathe consciously and keep repeating "this is just today," that way I won't forget that the whatever that's stressing me out is actually not a big deal.
Note: Speaking of “self talk,” we’re all susceptible to negative thoughts and chatter. There are some things you can do to turn it off though, as I discuss in my article “Turn Off the Negative Self Talk.”
Ginna - Customer Happiness Agent
For me, mental health is a priority. So, to take care of my mental health, I go to therapy three times a month. I also try to make time to do activities that generate well-being, such as running, eating out, walking, or reading.
When I feel overwhelmed by my emotions or my anxiety, I usually externalize what I feel and why I feel it. Either write it down or talk about it with someone else. All this has helped me to release a little of the emotional burden that sometimes overwhelms me. It has also helped me to be more compassionate and to understand my own emotions and processes.
If I can’t externalize my feelings at the moment, I try to go on with my day. I listen to music that makes me feel better. However, I think the sadness or the anxiety is there until I write it down, talk to someone else, or cry. For me, crying relieves me and takes a burden off my shoulders.
Running makes me feel free, and that I have control of my body and my emotions, also it helps me to focus on something else. Eating out brings me a lot of joy, and it makes me feel that I am taking care of myself. When I have a bad day, I usually go out to eat something that I enjoy.
Tigre - Copywriter
Some years ago I discovered that I was gluten intolerant. This was way before it became a trend to go “gluten free,” and it was a difficult thing to realize and discuss with others, But it was literally a case of life and death, and mental health. When I eliminated gluten, which wasn’t easy, I became calmer, less reactionary and a better partner. Seriously. And, unfortunately, I’ve slipped up over the years and have an almost immediate reaction that turns me into a monster. I liken it to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Life in a city, and life in general, can be taxing. To ease into the day, I start with a self-guided meditation and a stretching routine. This helps “clear the cobwebs” and create a calmly energized foundation for what lies ahead.
I love to be in nature, and also try to incorporate a bit of forest bathing into the day. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out and I can’t get into nature, I look for a tree, a patch of green or a potted plant. Just the act of touching the plant or digging my hands into the solid grounds me, and allows the negative energy to drain away. Approaching things with the beginner’s mind also helps me to see things from a fresh perspective.
Another great way to let off steam, I’ve discovered, is to put on some hard rock, death metal or punk and just let loose. And I mean loose - scream, shout and bounce off the wall!
Adela - Responsibility Coordinator
To take care of my mental health I do breathwork. I do it once I wake up or when I feel I might be getting anxious. I use the 4-7-8 technique the most. This technique helps calm the nervous system, by slowing down the time in which you exhale, which can be useful in moments of stress.
I hope these personal stories and tips have given you some fresh insights.
Please leave a comment below about what you found useful, and also about what you do to manage our own mental health issues.
Have a wonderful day!