Mental Health: Lived Experience To Find Relief

Introducing My Guest Blogger

I have always loved collaborating and learning from others – to me, it’s where the richness of life is. That’s why I’m super excited to have Mare Uriarte (bio below) as a guest writer share her personal perspective and experiences on the challenges of overwhelm and anxiety. We also had an awesome conversation on 10.06.20 on my Talk About It Tuesday show on Instagram – which has some GREAT content. Would you mind watching and sharing all of this content to help us de-stigmatize mental health?

As a coach, I often work with clients who are trying to find relief and a path forward from these kinds of experiences – so it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.  Personally, I am not immune from the struggle either and I also share my tips. Alright Mare take it away!


Feeling Overwhelmed? You’re not alone…

It seems like the world is moving on and trying to function in the age of COVID-19, with schools reopening and having their students come in person, restaurants and public spaces opening up more, and cities loosening their restrictions. And while it may seem like things are going back to normal, for some of us these shifting times are scary, especially because things will continue changing as we move into the fall. It also doesn’t help that everyday there seems to be more bad news: from the BLM movement to the passing of RBG to the elections that are right around the corner. So, a big question in my head is: how can we keep swimming in this volatile ocean and not tire ourselves out?

Prioritize Your Mental Health! 

What is mental health and what can we do to prioritize it? A simple question that when thinking about it deeply, it’s hard to come up with a straightforward answer. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being”.

Our mental health determines how we feel, how we act with ourselves and with others, and also affects our decision-making abilities

Our mental health determines how we feel, how we act with ourselves and with others, and also affects our decision-making abilities. When feeling overwhelmed, our mental health can take a toll, and just like dominos, one thing after the other will also be affected. This is why it is extremely important to take care of yourself and prioritize mental health when you’re feeling burned out.

As a second year graduate school student, I have days where my mental health is not where I would want it to be. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed and log in to class via Zoom and pay attention, or get my work done in time so I’m not scrambling to do things last minute.

Along with this, my self-esteem is affected and that can lead to convincing myself that I’m not good enough, or that I won’t be able to finish school. This downward spiral can then impact my relationships. When it does, I start avoiding interacting and making plans with the people I love, I’ll withdraw within myself, and then it feels like I’ve locked myself in a dark room and the walls are closing in. When I start to feel this way, I know I have to stop and reorganize my thoughts, seek help when I need it, and work on some things that will help me get back on track mental-health wise.

Get your move on!

Tips For Strengthening Mental Health

I’ve always joked that anxiety is my middle name, and that if I’m not in a constant state of stress then something must be wrong. Obviously, this is not a great way to live, and with a lot of help from others I’ve managed to create some habits and strategies that help me when I feel like I’m feeling lost and low. 

Mare’s Toolbox to Fight Anxiety and Overwhelm

  1. Write down what needs to be accomplished: I’m a visual person, and I’ve found that writing down lists of things I need to get done as well as any meetings, projects, or personal errands. This way, it allows me to visualize and prioritize, as well as prevents me from forgetting something to be done.
  2. Take a walk or move around: Doctors and nutritionists in the past have always told me that at least 30min of some kind of movement is good for your physical health, but I find that it does wonders for my emotional and psychological health as well. Spending time outside walking around or doing some yoga/stretches helps my brain slow down and appreciate the little things around me. It’s also a perfect time to unplug from the world for a little bit and listen to the needs of your body and your mind.
  3. Find 5 minutes for yourself: Sometimes, when I’ve got a lot going on and feel like I can’t take a break, I try to carve out at least 5 minutes to do something that makes me happy. Taking 5 minutes to yourself allows you to check in and ask: “what do I need to do right now to improve my mood and my mentality?”
  4. Get Support: Sometimes, there simply isn’t anything I can do or anyone else around me to make me feel better. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it simply means that I need a little more than what I can give myself. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety most of my teenage and adult life, there are moments in time when I have had to admit that I’m not ok. Therapy is hard and challenging, especially because personally I don’t enjoy discussing my feelings. But the times that I have done it, it has done wonders. There is no shame in seeking help to learn to manage yourself.
There’s no shame in needing anti-depressants!

Form a new relationship with yourself

The tools mentioned above work for me but might not work for everyone. You have to find what works for you and stick with it. It takes a lot of trial and error, but soon enough finding that routine and those actions that help will improve your mental health and everyday actions. Form a new relationship with your head to avoid getting to a point of no return, condition yourself to recognize when you are spiraling, and learn to prioritize when it’s time to take care of yourself. My personal mantra has always been “I can, and I will, watch me”, and when my mental health is at its best, I feel like I can truly live by those words. And I know you can do it too, all you need is to take care of yourself.

Tosca’s Take: More Tips for Mental Health

I love all of these ideas for supporting your emotional and mental health muscles. Here are a few of my go-to’s.

Celebrate Your Wins: Sometimes when I start getting down on myself and feel like I’m not doing enough I list out all the things that I’ve done in the past few weeks to give myself credit and to really SEE that I have done more than I’m giving myself credit for.

Meditate: When I feel like I’ve lost focus or clarity on what’s most important, I come back to my meditation practice in a bigger way. It helps me to cut out the noise and get back to my own guidance. It’s not about getting rid of thoughts here, it’s about letting them come, and just as readily letting them go.

Good Vibes Only: Sometimes when I’m in a bad headspace I need to ensure that I’m only surrounding myself with people that are in a good mental health state themselves. While I want to be able to support others who are struggling, sometimes I know I need to take a step back from that to take care of myself first.

If you are looking for more support and ideas, please check out this short list of resources! 

Resources for Support

  • Headspace: This is a website with tools for meditation that can help improve things from mood to sleep. It is easy downloadable on your mobile app and can do a free trial before committing to a membership. Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. 
  • Psychology today: Psychology Today is a magazine devoted exclusively to everybody’s favorite subject: Ourselves. They have gathered a group of renowned psychologists, academics, psychiatrists and writers to contribute their thoughts and ideas. We’re a live stream of what’s happening in ‘psychology today’. It is also a great source to find licensed doctors in the field of psychology in your area.
  • BetterHelp: Offers online access to licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC).

Bio on Guest Author

Mare Uriarte is currently doing her Masters in International Affairs with a specialization in diplomacy at Boston University. She is originally from Santurce, Puerto Rico and has lived and traveled all over the world. Mare is a strong advocate for mental health awareness, human rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s rights, and immigrant’s rights. In her spare time, Mare enjoys going on hikes, working on DIY projects, and spending time with loved ones. She hopes to one day become a diplomat and work to give back to her Latin American community, as well as protect the rights of vulnerable populations across the world.

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