Let’s have a real talk. How have y’all been lately?
I hope you’re doing better than I am, because I haven’t been well.
There has been a lot going on in the past several months; whether it’s managing my emotions on all the things that are happening in the world, taking actions on various incidents that are popping up within my social circle, giving constant support for other people’s struggles, or just juggling between responsibilities I have in my own life, I reached my breaking point.
I never realized how much it affected me emotionally and physically, but it did. Partly because I thought my brain can handle everything (thank you brain you did well), but also I got too caught up with how everyone else are doing, I forgot to see how I am doing.
For those who have read my recent post, you know I’ve been having this headache from hell for 3 week straight (now onto 4). I thought it might’ve been my poor home office set up until my doctor asked, “has anything happened in the past months?” Oh man. Too much.
Then it finally hit me. Did this stubborn headache come from emotional distress?!
I head straight to my room after seeing the doctor. I picked up my banana notebook (it’s my favourite don’t judge) and started brain-dumping. Within 5 seconds I broke down in tears. Dang. I guess I haven’t been okay. I was letting my stress pile up, yet not giving myself ways to unload them. Of course I’ll get a headache duh.
Since then instead of focusing on setting up a cute home office and taking pain killers, I started doing more self-care. And I’m happy to say, although the headache is still lingering, this has been working much better than Advil. Below are the things I’ve been doing that helped put my mental health back on track.
1. Art Therapy
I don’t draw, paint, or design y’all. But I picked up doodling recently and I love it. No matter what form of art you do, it’s meditative. Colouring book, water-colouring, sketching, or even Procreate, whichever floats your boat. If you let your emotions out on paper (or computer), you will feel better by the end. For me, the trick is to not overthink, and be judgement-free of your end product. Whatever I feel like doodling that second, I will doodle that on paper. It doesn’t have to perfect. In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything. This exercise is not meant to stress you out. That defeats the purpose. It is meant to be soothing.
2. Brain-Dump Journal
While art therapy helps release emotions, brain-dumping brings out your raw thoughts. You may think you know what’s going on inside your head, but often times I was surprised with what comes out on paper. There were so many revelations and reflections that happened for me through brain-dumping, I can’t encourage this more.
The idea is to literally unload your thoughts off your brain, so you can feel more at ease by the end of it. And the strawberry on top (not cherry because I’m allergic) is that you can better understand yourself. What is it you’ve been thinking about. Are they self-criticisms and unrealistic concerns? Or are they constructive thoughts and empowering encouragement? Whatever they are you will see them clearly as long as you allow them to come out. The trick here is to be vulnerable and again, judgement-free of your thoughts.
3. Listen to the Right Music
Why do you think yoga studios play meditative music during class? It’s meant to help you feel calmer (or at least that’s what I think…? A straight up assumption for the sake of making a point hahahah).
Fact is, music can influence your mood. When you break up with your boyfriend and you listen to sad songs, you’re going to cry more. So why are we doing this to ourselves?! It’s one thing to let your emotions out through sad beats but another if you indulge in depressing songs and keep yourself in that negative mental space. It’s not healthy. If you want your mindset to be at “Thank You Next”, then you need to stop listening to “Stay With Me”.
I listen to relaxing music when I’m stressed out, and upbeat songs when I’m in a bad mood. Use music to your advantage!
4. Let It All Out
I am more of a listener than a talker. When people ask me “how are you?”, I usually tell them “I’m fine” even when I wasn’t. I don’t share much with other people, which means stress can pile up fast. And this is exactly what happened. I’ve kept so much to myself that at one point I felt nauseous, literally. It’s crazy what stress can do to your body.
So I’ve decided to open up. I brain-dumped everything to a handful of people, telling them what has been going on lately, unfiltered. And I kid you not, by the 3rd or 4th person, my headache started to feel better. My muscles felt less tensed too. Who knew ranting could be more effective than a massage.
5. Walk, Fresh Air, Walk
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m sure you’ve seen this in most self-care lists already, and for good reasons. It can help. Period. The end.
According to Advanced Neurotherapy, going out for a walk can reduce stress and improve brain function, especially in nature. It can lower heart rates. They also said that “taking a walk outside will help the brain produce endorphins, which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. Both being outside and walking can work together to create positive changes in overall state of mind.”
If you are lazy like me and my bf, try switching it up with a longboard or something.
To be continued…
I don’t want the post to get too long, so I will be breaking up this list into two parts. Stay tuned for the rest! If you have your own self-care tips or activities, please do share them in the comments below. I’d love to pick those habits up!