Self Care is ESSENTIAL for Optimal Mental Health

Can you turn your obstacles into opportunities?

Posted Jun 03, 2011

This is my very first blog...EVER! So, I thought I would share a story about where I was and where I am now. It is time for me to share my story on how I turned my breakdown into a breakthrough with others to help them manage stress, anxiety and hopefully depression. My goal is to encourage people to face their STUFF so they don't end up where I did.

I am the youngest sister of the late Nicole Brown Simpson who was murdered 16 years ago. On June 12, 1994, my life changed forever. Because of the notoriety, it became difficult for me to go through the normal grieving process.

In September of 2004, I experienced an emotional breakdown from the cancellation of my wedding. Due to the lack of self care and acknowledging my despair over the years, this caught up with me.
For one month I went in self-destructive mode and on October 10, 2004, I was admitted into a behavioral health center for depression and anxiety. For 10 days I was an in-patient and for two months I was an outpatient because I neglected to feel and face my pain.
I share this with you because the Holidays are here and for many it is a time for fun, family and festivities. It can be the most exciting and joyful season of all. And for some, it can provoke stress and anxiety because of family affairs, parties, shopping and other demands. This places unnecessary pressure on you and as a result, you stress out and become overridden with anxiety.
Everyone has a story from this past year. It amazes me how much despair is truly out there. There is an increase in depression, suicide attempts, suicide successes and substance abuse because people do not know where to turn. You think you can do everything, everyday, all the time and for everyone and you simply cannot.

You have to take care of yourself first. Without you being mentally well how will you enjoy this season and spread to joy to others around you? That is what the holidays are about. It is not about the gifts; big or small. It is about family, believing, appreciating, acknowledging and being grateful for what you DO have.

Let It Go!

How do you do this? How do you take care of yourself? BREATHE! One of the determining factors of anxiety is the neglect of breathing properly. Don't just breathe, breathe deeply. Fill your belly and lungs and hold for three to four seconds. You may feel a bit light-headed. This is normal as your body is receiving the amount of oxygen that is necessary to reduce anxiety.

Be Selfish! Practice Self-Care
When you find yourself in sadness, stress and anxiety, please acknowledge it. Do not deny yourself to feel. It is critical for survival. I know life gets busy and there are many excuses for you to use not to practice self-care. But, if you do not, you will be the one who is hurting and in turn you hurt and frustrate those around you. What do you do to acknowledge your despair? Release the emotions by talking to a friend, therapist or life coach, exercising, drinking plenty of water, walking in nature or volunteering. I like to journal and gratitude journal. If you can give yourself 10 minutes in the morning to give thanks for one more day before you grab for that blackberry, and 10 minutes at night to give gratitude for five things you appreciated and were grateful for, you will discover how the

negative gets voided by the positive. But, discover a self care that brings YOU joy and gives you the opportunity to release the stressors of the day. Not only will these exercises reduce the stress, but will give you the peace of mind for which you have been searching

Don't Have Enough Time? YES you do!
Manage your time the day before. Write down all the errands you have to run and do not forget to include driving time. When you determine what your errands are identify the driving route to accomplish it all. Then, write it down in your calendar; a paper calendar with times and dates, like a day runner from the past. ALSO, it is very important to remember to be flexible.

We all know life happens and things come up. Just shift your schedule around, but don't ignore your responsibilities and still use this time management tool. NEXT, schedule YOU into your day, everyday. We schedule everyone else, don't forget YOU.

Tanya L. Brown is a mental health advocate, life coach and speaker.