Here’s 2 Things You Need to Make Mental Wellness Your Priority!
I’m an ass buster. Meaning that I bust my ass every single day of my life, not that every time I bend over my pants shred like tissue paper. Hard work is in my blood and no matter where I’m working or what I’m doing, I pride myself on my ability to bring energy and dedication to what I do.
Oh, you need me to work like a madwoman and deliver on deadlines that even the most seasoned professionals would cry about? No prob. Oh, my kids kept me up all night for two weeks but need me to build custom house-wide obstacle courses while singing Sesame Street songs so loud the neighbors are judging me? Sure! Oh, you need me to clean my house from top to bottom and cook a nice meal while a two year old screams at the top of her lungs because I won’t let her play with a burning hot stove? You got it!
Many of us expend massive amounts of energy in doing the things others need from us. We go to work, we take care of our loved ones, and we do our best to rock our “responsible adult” suits as much as we can. But when it comes to putting time and energy into our own needs, we fall so short of the finish line that it usually takes the strong hand of a belligerent therapist or a total life crisis before we prioritize ourselves. Fucking why?
I have an idea. For one thing, acts of self-care are rarely regarded as character traits of humble, generous people. If you step away from your family to take a spa day or spend a decent chunk of change on something frivolous that makes you happy, chances are that someone somewhere is cockin’ a judgy brow in your direction. (If it’s my brow, it’s perfectly painted on, except for the mornings where I haven’t had nearly enough sleep, in which case they already look judgy no matter what.🤨)
The other, bigger issue is that living with mental illness often means we live with a sense that something is wrong with who we are. We are the “others.” There’s something quite isolating about being at war with your mind and the more you internalize the struggle, the more you internalize the pain.
Getting to a place where self-care is a daily deed is downright difficult! I used to think that my problem was a lack of motivation - that all it would take is some beefed up guy screaming enthusiastic quotes in my face to make me want to treat myself better. That works, but only in the short term, and it’s usually only a few weeks before I’m back dumping baby powder in my hair because I haven’t made time for a good scrubbing. (I’ve got lots of locks okay?!)
It took me years to figure out the secret to successful self-care strategies and once I figured it out, I felt like a fuckin’ idiot for not getting it sooner. But that’s the thing about learning: you don’t know until you know and you’ll never know what you don’t know until you know it, you know? So here they are:
THING 1: Accountability & Consequences
Okay so check this out. There’s lots of things we do in life that we don’t necessarily want to do. Let’s take work for example. Would I rather spend my days frolicking through poppy fields in floppy skirts and singing about kittens and mittens? Absolutely! I think that sounds like a pretty positive way to pass the time and who knows, I may end up saving a gaggle of musical kids and their moody dad.
But instead of making the hills come alive, I go to work every day and put 100% of my effort into doing a good job, and so do you. We do it because we want to be able to pay our bills and feed our kids and ensure that we’re able to keep our wifi up so we can read ridiculously awesome blogs like this one.
If you don’t show up to work or you slack off, steal shit, or gut a fish on top of your TPS reports, your boss will fire you. And since your boss and your coworkers are watching over the work you do, you’ll continue doing your job well enough to keep it.
In order to thrive, you need to develop daily self-care strategies and take care of your mental health. But who’s holding you accountable? What are the immediate consequences of not doing that? I’d love to tell you that having another MDE is enough to keep my ass in check but, come on, I’ve had 6! CLEARLY holding myself accountable doesn’t work, which is why I have to look outside of myself to get the gears going. That’s one of the major reasons Horribly Human Challenges work really, really well for me. I’m publicly stating that I’m going to do something and, if I don’t follow through, I have several thousand people who are going to know that I’m a big lazy liar and that level of public shame is just enough to keep me going!
THING 2: Community & Support
Workin’ wellness isn’t easy for anyone. Often, taking steps to take care of yourself requires you to make changes to your life and that inevitably effects the lives of those who are used to the way you were doing things before. In case you’ve never, ever had contact with another person, I’m gonna tell you something really important about them: people don’t really like change!
While some people will encourage the shit out of you for getting better, others will find that your need for “me time” upends their lives. When I first started taking wellness seriously, some of my biggest supporters were insanely disgruntled because I had to create healthy boundaries in order to get well. I had one person spend an entire year trying to convince me to go back to the old ways because it just plain made their life seem a whole lot less easy.
Creating a community of supporters who understand your struggle is essential to getting better. We’re not talking about your regular friends and family here. Although they may be next level awesome, there’s nothing like being able to reach out to someone who’s dealt with the same issues you’re having and knows what it’s like to work on it. I can’t tell you enough how empowering it is to be able to dip my pen into my social media groups and ask for help and, miraculously, get not only solutions, but support!
Beginning on October 1st I’m applying these principles to a serious issue I’ve struggled with my entire life: managing stress. I’ve created a challenge of simple daily strategies to help get us in the habit of taking time each and every day to do something that has been proven to get those feel good chemicals flowing! By involving the Horribly Human community, I’m holding myself accountable and building consequences for not following through. And, in case it isn’t obvious, I’m also going to have the support of an incredible group of wellness workin’ folks telling me to rock on when I need it the most!
If you’re all about doing better to get better, you can follow the challenge on my Instagram starting on October 1st! I’ll definitely post to Twitter & Pinterest too, but Insta is where the magic will happen. I can’t wait to take on the challenge and slay stress right along with you!