May is Mental Health Month and because I have battled depression all my life it was important for me to write this post. My blog is dedicated to helping women look and FEEL their best especially women over the age of 30. I find when we reach a certain age we no longer become the focus like we were when we were younger. I often feel that younger women are allowed to be more focused on themselves because there is this idea that they are discovering who they are. And because we are older we are fulfilling more roles than just daughter, sister and student, but we are now mothers, wives, employees, entrepreneurs and perform more duties such as being the cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, counselor, and caregiver, etc. In all these roles we take on, we forget that we are human beings and not Superwomen. I believe God has given each of us in-explainable strength and its true His promise to us is that He will not put more on us than we can bear, but we fail to recognize we put things on ourselves that God never intended for us to do. And then we wonder why we are so stressed or depressed.
I have learned thru my fight against depression that I can no longer be caught up in what society thinks I should be. From my own personal experience I have learned that society thinks being a black woman equals inherent strength but that doesn’t mean we are indestructible. The issues of life can bring me down and in those instances where I feel depression or sadness come on I remember I cannot be everything to everyone and as long as I am doing my best I’m good. It’s okay to take breaks, it’s normal to make mistakes, and sometimes we have to get help and delegate and there is nothing wrong with extending love to ourselves daily. I have included some ideas below that can help us to retire the idea that it is necessary for us to do it all.
· Get help – This may seem like “duh” but we all know we have said at least once “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself”. This may be true in some cases but sometimes just getting whatever it is done is more important than it being done to our standards. If a co-worker volunteers to organize this month’s birthday celebration for the team, let them! So maybe they can’t cook, so suggest they cater or just remember to bring your lunch that day. Just take the pressure off yourself to organize an event that is not of importance to you. Within this suggestion I want to say that it is okay to get professional help. i.e. therapy. I know that people don’t want to share personal problems with an outside party but a professional can help you organize your thoughts, gain a different perspective and formulate solutions. We must stop putting a stigma on going to a counselor or seeking professional help and we must realize that being healthy encompasses our mental health as well. Tip: Check with your employer or benefits to see what is covered under mental health. Some companies offer a series of free counseling services under their employee assistance program (EAP).
· Get Organized and Establish Routines – Some of the stress we experience is caused by us. Period. And it’s because we do not prepare for and command our day. Organization can be as simple as putting our favorite makeup items in a tray so that when getting ready in the morning we are not searching for an eyebrow pencil. I can’t tell you how many times something I wanted to wear to work were dirty because I left it on the infamous chair in my bedroom when I took it off. Instead establishing a routine of sorting thru that pile of clothes on Thursdays and Sundays so I have things together for the weekend and the workweek has saved me from looking and feeling a mess.
· Practice Self Care every day, not just Saturday – I absolutely love the self-care movement because it gives us the opportunity to take much needed time to pamper ourselves but in all honesty self-care should be practiced daily. It can be something as simple as eating a healthy meal or getting off Instagram and going to bed an hour earlier (guilty). We sometimes should forgo the idea that self-care should be this grandiose event and find simple ways to practice self-care everyday.
· Set small goals- I know personally that I feel on top of the world when I accomplish anything I set out to do. If I can set a time to get the kids in the bed by 8:30 and I do it that leads to me setting other small goals and accomplishing those too. Maybe set a goal to read a chapter of a book every day until you finish it and share your thoughts on social media. Just set a goal no matter how small that you know you can finish and then DO IT! You will feel better and this will lead to you getting more things done.
I hope this post gives you ideas to alleviate stress and battle onsets of depression or anxiety but most importantly I hope it teaches you to give yourself permission to be human instead of some superhero. There is a reason that Superwoman is fictional!