Mental health challenges don’t discriminate. Folks from all walks of life struggle with mental health issues regardless of race, social class, or gender identity.
Mental health conditions encompass a broad spectrum of presentations. From clinical depression and bipolar disorder to high functioning anxiety, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and dysthymia (low-grade depression) and many shades in between.
We are all unique and wired differently. Science shows us that no two brains are the same. Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal, rather than deficits. At KLUR, we believe true inclusivity means embracing and respecting all our differences - even the ones we can’t see.
“Taking care of your mental health is a skin health practice.” - KLUR
The pitfall of repressed emotions
Be present in your feelings and talk them out. We tend to shut down any negative feelings to protect ourselves from feeling raw and visceral emotions.
However, suppressed emotions have a profound physiological impact. Emotions may become trapped in our bodies and manifest as health challenges such as pain, skin conditions, muscle tension, digestive issues, and long-term health issues.
Learning to sit with and sift through your feelings plays an important role in managing and importantly, releasing emotions in the body.
It’s ok to feel down. To feel sad. To feel angry. To feel disappointed. To feel frustrated. We don’t have to cover up or try to present ourselves as anything different for the world. By showing our authentic emotions, we create space for others to do the same.
Allow yourself to experience emotions as they are, without pushing them away or trying to fix them. Be curious about what’s going on and investigate it with care.
Ask for professional help: Communication is key
There is no shame in seeking professional help. Learn to see communicating your feelings with others and asking for help as entirely normal and incredibly beneficial.
We recommend seeking out resources to build a professional support system. Culturally sensitive mental health assistance is especially important in many cases. Better Help offers online support no matter where you are and for those living in Los Angeles, LACPA's Find A Therapist can direct you to a local mental health professional.
Your financial situation doesn’t have to prevent you from accessing help. Check with your insurance provider for sliding scale therapy costs. Anxiety & Depression Association of America are also a good resource for exploring low-cost options.
Prioritize your mental health
Tools for acceptance, perspective and rebalancing
Let’s walk through some tools to support mental health and lead to better decisions, a calmer nervous system, and an increased sense of hope and empowerment.
Reframe negative thoughts
We can disarm the power negative thought patterns have to limit our perspective, opportunities and possibilities by reframing them.
Your thoughts about a situation are more important than the situation itself. If we are triggered by something negative we tend to slip straight into a thought pattern (frame) about the event.
This frame is usually linked to an unsupportive core belief or past experience. When we reframe a thought, the intention is to find an alternative, more positive view of the situation.
Become aware of a negative thought, then, rather than simply letting run automatically, question it.
Ask yourself questions like:
Is this thought helpful?
Is this the only thought I could have about this situation?
What other sides are there to this situation?
What are the consequences of accepting this thought? Will it benefit or harm me?
Is this thought 100% true?
It takes practice and awareness to get into the habit of reframing but stick with it! You are in control of your thoughts.
“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” - Rupi Kaur
Self-compassion is showing yourself kindness when you’re struggling. Being kind and non-judgemental to yourself can reduce anxiety, depression, and burnout. Self-compassion doesn’t come naturally to all of us, but luckily it’s a skill you can learn!
Tips to foster self-compassion:
Cut the negative self-talk
How you talk to yourself plays a vital role in well-being.Beating yourself up with harsh self- criticism has a destructive impact on your self-worth.
Intercept this destructive cycle by asking yourself if you would speak that same way to a young child who asked for your help or made a mistake?
Embrace your bad days
No one feels amazing 100% of the time. Embrace the bad days. Allow yourself to feel them; don’t get down on yourself for feeling down! Encourage yourself compassionately that you can make the most of what you have and where you are right now.
Learning to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made is an important facet of self-compassion. A practical way to do this is by writing a letter to yourself. Acknowledge that you did the best you could at the time and why you deserve forgiveness.
Identify your emotional triggers
Emotional triggers are things that bring out a strong emotional reaction. For example, memories, someone else's words or actions, and even your own behaviors.
In addition to a rush of emotion, triggers usually spark physical reactions like sweating, shortness of breath, feeling sick in the stomach, jaw clenching, and elevated heart rate. In the case of PTSD, triggers may cause deblitating panic attacks.
Identifying your emotional triggers alerts you to patterns in your mental health. In turn this can help you implement strategies for managing emotions and, if appropriate, avoiding triggers.
Strengthen your personal community
Much evidence supports the idea that folks with active social relationships tend to be more satisfied and happier with their lives. Strengthening your personal community means cultivating rich relationships with those who care about and accept you through all of life’s seasons. The ups and the downs.
We’re wired with a basic human need to feel like we belong, to feel understood. Choosing your friendships wisely and working to build those connections (it’s a two-way street) can have a significant impact on your mental health.
Looking to cultivate new friendships? Joining a group or class based on your interests is a great first step to meet like-minded people. Volunteering also opens doors to new friendships while making a difference in your community.
Self-care: Do things that make you feel good!
Far from indulgent, self-care is a necessity if we want to be at our best. Include activities in your life that support physical, emotional and mental health regularly. Essentially, do the things that make you feel and do them often.
Through self care practices you can reduce inflammation. This alone can have a profound effect on your inner health and skin resilience. Self-care also helps reset the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates our ability to slow down and replenish.
Self care need not be extravagant or expensive.
Pause and reset with a mindful moment, connect breath to mind and breathe with intention.
Explore gentle movement like yoga, tai chi, qigong, slow walking, and stretching.
Use an aromatherapy vaporizer to infuse your space with mood-balancing essential oils such as sweet orange, bergamot, clary sage, rosemary, and patchouli. The scent of essential oils stimulates the limbic system which is linked to our mood and emotions.
Treat yourself to a sweet dark chocolate indulgence! Research shows us that cocoa can play a role in improving mental stress response.
Rest to replenish your physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological energy stores. Sleep in, curl up with a weighted blanket to self-soothe if you are experiencing anxiety. Simply rest from challenging cognitive or physical tasks.
Many employers offer mental health days off; if this is an option, you should not be afraid to ask for a break.
Rethink your use of social media
For most of us, social media is part of our daily lives and, whether we notice it or not, it can have a significant effect on our mental health.
Carefully curate your social media feed so the accounts you're following are thoughtful, diverse, uplifting and overall, contributing to a positive mental state. Don’t be afraid to unfollow people or groups that don’t support a healthy state of mind.
If you’re already feeling down, social comparison only perpetuates inadequate and deflated feelings. Why not take a break from social media? Schedule in some social media free time each week and plan to spend time in nature or on a creative (screen-free) hobby instead.
Embrace expressive writing
Don’t underestimate the power of expressive journaling.
Writing down your emotions and reflections has shown to have a positive effect on mood (Pennebaker et al, 1988; Páez et al, 1999) and depressive symptoms.
In a journal, note down your feelings with dates and times of how you felt. Take 15 mins before bed to write out your thoughts and feelings, even the most trivial feelings are valid! By the end of the week, you will be surprised how tuned in you are.
Reward yourself in small ways, often.
Rewarding yourself is so important and not just for big achievements or milestones. Frequent, small rewards boost dopamine and serotonin. It’s a way to encourage yourself through a challenging task, celebrate finishing a busy week or finally tackling something you’ve been avoiding on your to-do list.
Cornell research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled "It's About Time: Earlier Rewards Increase Intrinsic Motivation" shows adding an immediate reward increases the positive experience of the task. This bolstered a feeling of motivation and persistence.
Care for others with acts of kindness
If there is anything we need more of in society today, it’s putting kindness and compassion into action. There are so many important and urgent needs we can help meet for others.
You can lend a hand as part of organized assistance - through volunteer and community programs. Or, do something as simple asking an elderly neighbor who lives alone how they’re doing and if they need anything.
Helping others has a deep impact on how we feel. Maybe you don’t feel like getting out of bed for yourself, but serving others might be your greatest motivation. It also keeps things in perspective and shifts your thoughts from your own challenges to helping others with theirs.
This help and care extends to our animal friends too, through volunteering at shelters, wildlife projects or fostering animals.
You can never, ever run out of opportunities to reach out to folk and do good. Just remember not to overextend yourself and your commitments. Keep your boundaries and always prioritize rest and self-care before helping others.
We hope this journal serves as a gentle reminder that we can all work to normalize conversations around mental health and be inspired to make space in our lives for the mental well-being of others.
Here are other ways you can get involved in Mental Health Month
If you, or someone you know, needs urgent mental health support now, please refer to the following resources: Los Angeles, California, USA: Crisis Text Line for free 24/7 crisis support. Nationwide, USA: National Sucide Prevention | United Kingdom: Give Us A Shout | Canada: The Canada Suicide Prevention Service
Copyright Klur Botanics LLC 2020