Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Mental Health is Everything

Before I dive into the specifics of my daily routine and environmental initiatives, let’s start with where it all began.

Let me paint a picture of how my life looked four months back and how things have changed since then. I used to be the person who went to work early, came home late, worked during most of the weekends, and even while I was with my wonderful husband, my mind always wandered with thoughts about things I needed to finish at work and be much more efficient. Spoiler Alert: I was never really forced into doing so much of overwork, I just felt I had to since I could see everyone else around me sacrificing their health and lives for work. It just felt right. It felt normal…

Fast forward to January 26th, 2020, I am up at 7 AM writing an article related to something I genuinely love. My mind is calm, and I am just up after 8 hours of sound sleep. My husband joked this morning that I was sleeping like a log yesterday.

Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

We all know how important mental health is. We have talked about it in movies, advertisements, documentaries, and whatnot. But our concept of mental health is (in most cases) extremely vague. I used to think that mental health was about taking two days of vacation, going out for a massage, haircut, spa, and then getting back to work. While getting a massage does help, there is lots more to it. I am not sure if I will be able to cover everything in this article, but I will try my best to share a general idea.

Mental health lies in your everyday living. Mental health is essential every second, every minute, every hour, every day of your lives! Don’t wait for a few vacation days to focus on it. Your beautiful body is not asking for this kind of behavior.

Image by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ from Pixabay

Physical health and Mental health are like your Brain and your Heart. If one of them fails, the other won’t exist. You cannot have good mental health without good physical health, and you cannot have good physical health without good mental health.

Based on the things I learned until now, the core aspects of Mental health really lies in knowing your true self. Who are you? What lights you up? What inspires and motivates you? What relaxes you? What annoys the sh*t out of you? What makes you feel anxious? What do you envision your perfect ideal day to be?

I started my journey of self-discovery a while back. A few months ago, I took a personality test and came to know that I was a “Highly Sensitive Person” or HSP. For people who know me are right now thinking… “Did you have to take a personality test to know that?”
But peeps seriously, it is so much deeper than that.

I learned that my nervous system was much more sensitive in comparison to most of the other people. HSPs constitute 20% of the world population, so I am not surprised that most of the time, I was in a state of “nobody gets me.” I ended up doing a lot of research on HSPs and joined groups that specifically included HSPs. I even invested in a wonderful, supportive life coach to help with my journey, but I will cover more on that later.

Through research and taking enough time to self-reflect, here’s what I learned about myself (They are not all specifically HSP traits, some of them are just “me” traits):

1. I had (have) the power to recognize other’s emotions: There were times where I used to sit in my office cubicle and just felt weird. I knew that someone around me was not having a good day. I would ask them, “Hey. Are you doing ok?”. And they would respond, “No. How did you know?”.

2. I absorbed the negative energy around me: Ok.. I know. This is heavy stuff to take in. But hear me out. I went to work one day and I was completely fine and happy. When I came back home, my husband mentioned that I looked sad and depressed and was worried. I told him that I had no idea what had happened. Everything was fine.

After giving it some thought, I remembered that there was a conflict between 2 people at work. They were mean to each other. This happened close to my cubicle. And I somehow tapped that energy. I now recognize that I draw in most of the negative energy and consciously try to be away from such a powerful force that makes my hand shake, heart pound and withdraw from the present environment.

3. I was extremely touchy: There would be instances where someone would make a snide remark or a joke, and I would end up thinking about it for 4–5 days. It was almost impossible for me to forgive someone because every issue seemed like an end of the world scenario for me.

4. I was a perfectionist: I might be dramatizing this a bit, but I think perfectionism should be registered as an addiction or a disease. The only difference between perfectionism and other obsessions is that everyone around you gains from the efficiency that comes from you being a perfectionist, and you lead a miserable life.

5. Control freak! I was a complete control freak. I planned everything from start to end, and if anything remotely went out of alignment, I would freak out and bring hell to myself and the people around me. It included controlling the behavior of others (ok, Mom! I agree. You were right!). When someone didn’t respond in a certain way, I would completely take offense and consider them to be the worst person in the world. I never believed that every behavior that someone showed would have been based on their understanding and experience of this world. I never understood the simple concept that every person goes through a different experience in life that eventually shaped their thinking and actions.

6. I was extraordinarily empathic and kind to others to the extent that I completely forgot about myself. My whole day revolved around thinking about others. What do they need to be happy? What would they want from me? What can I do to make their life more comfortable? This kind of behavior was horrible for self-love since there had been instances where I agreed to do tasks even when my body was utterly exhausted and was crying for help. It is no longer the case and I am so glad! You cannot pour from an empty cup!

7. I never really thought about my intent to do things: Why was I doing something? For example, say that my manager asked me to do a task. I completely ignored the fact that I was flooded with infinite tasks and I always ended up saying Yes to everything. I assumed that if I said No, it would make me look lazy, and they wouldn’t consider me a “team player.” I always wanted to be the star of the show. The savior. The best at everything even when it meant that my physical and mental health was going to complete doldrums.

My idea of success was superficial and shallow. My intent at this point was to impress others and not to actually do the task sincerely. The funny thing was, I never really cared about “climbing up the ladder” or “making more money,” or “getting the attention” in fact I hated attention, I just wanted to be the best. Unhealthy competition? Absolutely!

Through my healing process, I realized that for anyone in this world to be happy, you have to know that collaboration is much more potent than the competition. When you genuinely care for others and yourself, you will be at your best mental self. Unity brings opportunity.

I approach life very differently now. When someone asks me to do something, I respectfully ask them for some time to respond, think of the intent of doing things, look at my schedules and only say yes if I can actually commit to it (prioritizing my health first). When I say yes to something, I don’t complain after that point since it was my informed decision. Plus, I don’t lead my life as a race or a competition. I believe in unified living.

8. I was never present in the present: For anyone who knows my husband knows that he is one of the best humans in this world (really). He always made it a point to consider our personal life as a priority. On the contrary, I was galavanting in my dream world thinking of ways to impress more people at work or overthinking about some past incidence. It was horrible. Even in such a scenario, he never complained. But thankfully, I recognized this problem right on time to set my priorities straight. There was NOTHING in my professional life that could remotely compete with the love that I had for my family. Literally NOTHINGGG!

9. I was a fixer: I wanted to fix everyone’s problems around me. When someone shared an incident that they were going through, my first reaction was, “Have you tried this method?” Or “Have you talked to this person about it?” Or “Have you checked out this product?”. It never once crossed my mind that maybe they just wanted someone to listen to them without any judgments. Perhaps they just wanted to rant.

Being a fixer was a huge problem not only for me but also for the people around me.

When someone approached me with a problem, I would suggest 100s of solutions, and when they rejected my “awesome” ideas, I would get wholly hurt and tell them things like, “But I told you to do this. Why didn’t you listen to me?” Or “I have told you several times to not deal with those people, why do you still do it?” etc.

It was a massive problem for the people I dealt with because they had tremendous stress of exactly doing what I told them to do, and they were usually walking on eggshells around me. SO MUCH PRESSURE! And not to forget, I was robbing them of this excellent opportunity to learn things on their own. I am no longer a fixer. I am just a good listener. If someone ends up asking me for suggestions, I tell them, “So, here is what I did and it really worked out for me. If you feel comfortable, you can try and see if it works out for you. If not, maybe there are resources online that could help you with this specific problem.”

There you go. These were some of my significant personal learnings. Most of this just touch based on the issues and not much on the solutions.

So in Part-2 of this article, I will try to include some of the techniques that I used to work on myself, which eventually led to a much better mental health.

I hope you get some much needed time and space to reflect on your true self. It is MANDATORY!!