I’m Ok. It’s time for a mental health break

Ever since I’ve been a child, I can remember going through periods where everything around me would fade into darkness and I became numb.

Photographer: Francesco Ungaro

My world that was once happy and colorful would slowly shift to this dull and flat version of itself. It felt as if I was outside of myself looking at a person I could not recognize. I longed to connect with friends and family but always felt trapped like an animal in a cage, able to see the outside world but unable to reach it.

This affected me the hardest during my teens and while I have learned much since then, I can’t deny that every so often I still fall into patterns that lead to bad habits and before I can realize it, I’m back in this dark pit where light never seems to reach. Over the years, I managed to hold on to a few tricks (if they can even be referred as such) that make bouncing back just a tad bit easier.

Do the exact opposite of what you feel like doing.

As a teen, a therapist once told me that if I wanted to stay in bed and cry, that I should get up and go meet a friend instead. If all I wanted was to stare at my wall for hours on end, that I should take my dog to the park. This concept goes hand in hand with the object in motion that stayed in motion. This was the single greatest piece of advice anyone could’ve given me at that age and I have held on to it since then.

Getting active when you are in a deep dark place is truly one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish but not impossible. From trying out new activities to reconnecting with friends and family you’ve been thinking about, any simple tasks that gets you moving and out of your bed can help.

When I am starting to feel down, I try to commit to a few simple steps for few days then a few more. It is not an easy tasks and I often find myself starting over and over. The idea is not to achieve perfection but to simply try.

  • Reflect on 3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day. It is so easy to fixate on the small annoyances in life without taking any time to acknowledge all the good that happens to us on the daily.
  • Watch a documentary. It’s good to hear others talk about their accomplishments and/or learn from their experiences. I personally love watching TED talks, there are so many aspiring people who share daily on their platform.
  • Take a few breaks throughout the day, go for a quick walk. Often we get trapped behind our desks at work forgetting to just give the mind a breather, it is surprising how rejuvenated one can feel after taking 10 minutes to ourselves.
  • Call a friend or a family member daily, even if only for a few minutes to say hello. I often find myself disconnected from the people I love and respect the most and a lot of it has to do with the lack of effort to stay connected.
  • Put the phone down. Take a few hours and unplug at the end of the day. This task is particularly difficult for me because I am religiously glued to my phone but I acknowledge that taking some time away from all the devices can help calm my mind.

Although, it may feel like there is just too much to get done in the day and adding more tasks will make things worse but focusing on the things that make life wonderful can be just the breather you didn’t know you needed.

Photographer: Artem Beliaikin

Prioritizing mental health and wellbeing is extremely important, it hasn’t always been that way in my life and it took me a while to learn that it’s ok to stop and just breathe.

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