I’ve always thought my mental health was fine and the state of my emotional body was pretty stable compared to what many people deal with daily. Having completed a Mental Health Aware Yoga training that highlighted the ups and downs of mental health and recently watching the Joker movie, I’ve realised that yes I too get anxious, I feel stressed and also suffer from symptoms of depression at times. I think we all do and in my opinion it really comes down to how you manage and translate this into everyday life.
Those who know me, know that I am actually a shy and naturally introverted person. Regardless of my work and performing arts background, I am really shy. It’s my shyness which feels self-conscious, ‘less than’ and not worthy. Its my shyness that stops me from being the loudest – it tells me to hide, to suppress sharing my feelings and won’t let me reveal my true nature. I don’t mean that my shyness is a negative trait, it’s purely part of my character and how I experience it daily.
I know it could be worse, but sometimes it’s a daily struggle and I often wonder what kind of a person I would be without this holding me back. My natural tendency is to keep the peace, to not share my opinion if its part of the minority and to avoid conflict. Please know I will always stand in my own truth, but I don’t feel it necessary to make my voice heard if it’s going to create more unnecessary negativity around me. If push comes to shove I will make a stand and not let myself be taken for granted, in doing so I could unleash a fierce, wild and unpredictable aspect of myself which doesn’t get out much, so watch out! In all seriousness, the inner balance and mindfulness I am cultivating daily is a reflection of the balance I am living moment to moment.
My shyness can make me nervous, I may start sweating which leads to feeling more anxious and in very extreme cases I’ll start shaking, full body tremors which I can’t control. This shaking isn’t noticeable at first, but if I don’t take deep breaths and act quickly to pacify this my shyness and nervousness increases and I am trapped in a shaky, nervous and anxious cycle, which doesn’t feel very good.
Like everyone I have good days and not so good days. I know that I am highly sensitive to the cosmic movements of the planets and moon cycles which also makes navigating all of this quite complex! There are times when I will plan my day so I see less people. I might take the back streets and make up an excuse as to why I’m doing this – it’s a quiet route to ride my bike, its faster and has better places to park. Then there are other days that I am feeling confident, happy, open and ready to take on the world around me which doesn’t require as much navigating.
Heres a few ways I manage my mental health daily and hope they can support you and your personal journey.
1. I remove myself from triggering situations. Knowing what is a trigger is for you is pure Gold, this way you notice it before it happens and can save your own sanity by simply removing yourself from that situation.
2. I sit and acknowledge these feelings as and when they arise and positively act accordingly. Denying and pushing away these feelings will only make it worse. Acknowledgement is part of self healing and creates a loving and accepting environment for your feelings to rise and dissolve without causing more anxiety.
3. I take time out to fully reflect and recharge to come back into alignment where I feel good within myself. Yes, self care 101. This is always a huge topic of discussion during my training and a main focus during retreats. Taking time out to restore, reflect and recharge is so vital. Please don’t overlook this.
4. I fully own my shyness and use it as a teaching tool for myself and my tribe. I don’t try and hide it, I have learnt how to utilise this trait as a teaching tool to hopefully empower and inspire others to fully own their shyness. It can be challenging to overcome but you’ll quickly learn that you are not alone and that we all have something which holds us back.
5. I carefully choose who I spend my time and share my energy with. This one was huge for me. As mentioned above I am highly sensitive which means I get drained and overwhelmed very quickly in loud large groups, especially if I am not energetically up for resonating with this vibe. I am selective with whom I spend my time with and for how long. I can spot bullsh*t miles away and choose to not waste my time with trying to ‘fit in’. I would much rather be alone than surrounded by pretence and wanna be’s.
6. I let the nerves shimmy and shake through me. Movement is a powerful catalyst for transforming these embodied stuck emotions. Having studied Dance Movement Therapy I know this is one pathway I am comfortable with and have experienced profound affects time and time again. Nervous twitches and involuntary shaking is stuck energy which needs to move, so MOVE! Even if it means purposely shaking your entire body or just your limbs on the spot to help relieve the tension. This works for me every time.
7. I write, draw and creatively channel my mental health ups and downs in a way that captures the raw, vulnerable and messy truth of being human. Along with movement, writing is another way I give myself relief from the ongoings of my mind. I love to capture the poetry of the body and full expression of our emotional state with written word. And if I can’t find the words, I’ll draw, paint and give myself permission to be creatively messy. So much healing can take place through creativity.
8. I will challenge myself to prove that the world isn’t as scary as what I am making out to be in my head. I choose carefully with this one as it’s not something I would do all the time. Challenging your own mental health state can make things worse but this does help if you are stuck in a negative story which is just getting out of control. I’ll start with easy choices first – like taking the main road home instead of the back ways first before moving onto more challenging choices. In the past this has helped me see how easily I get caught up in my head and that the world isn’t a bad and scary place after all.
9. I let myself be inspired and empowered by those around me. I expand my vision, I take in the beauty and I pause to fully receive the gifts which I haven’t been noticing. Life is so full and vibrant, we just need to let this in to really embody and live this daily.
10. I decide when enough is enough and consciously decide to not get sucked into a long drawn out cycle for days which could be a downward spiral with no return. If I feel like this spiral is drawing me in, I’ll seek help from someone I trust to support me in finding balance again. Please don’t suffer alone or in silence.
There are many helplines and professionally qualified people who can help you restore balance to your mental health. Below are some helpful numbers if you’re not sure where to go for help.