With the beginning of 2023 here, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my mental health journey over the last year – something that I encourage everyone to do. This year, just like any other, has had its fair share of ups and downs when it comes to my mental health. However, I find it of the utmost importance that we take the time to celebrate the little wins, the growth and progress that we have made, and the conscious steps towards improvement in our mental health journey. I also find it incredibly important that, in addition to the celebrations, we acknowledge the times in which we may have struggled, allowed our peace to be disrupted, or neglected our mental health–creating an opportunity for us to address these struggles in a different, more positive way in the future.
With transparency and vulnerability, I have decided to share some of my own celebrations and struggles in hopes of encouraging all who read this to take the time to reflect on their year–not in dollars earned, hours worked, etc.--but rather, in a way that allows us to truly gauge our mental health journey. While the list that you will find below does not include every success and challenge on my mental health journey during 2022, it is representative of the work that I have done and the acknowledgement that even moments of challenge do not have the power to claim the entirety of my 2022.
Medication: This year, I fully acknowledged that my mental health can frequently be something that I am unable to address solely on my own. My journey with anti-anxiety medication has been sporadic. As a child, I routinely took this medication but as I got older, I decided that I could handle my mental health on my own. This year however, I lobbied for my mental health, requested to be placed back on my medication, recognizing issues with the dosage and requested a change, and have maintained consistency with my medication for the first time in years.
Social Media: This has been a struggle for years. I have never been one to post much on social media but I can frequently find myself falling into the trap of self-comparison on social media. My mental health tends to decline when I increase the amount of time spent on social media. Whether it be comparing my day-to-day life with others of my age, feeling as though I am missing out on social events, or struggling with my self-esteem in comparison to other women, I know that social media can frequently become a challenge to my mental health. While I cannot sit here and say that I completely cut out social media usage or even that I didn’t occasionally fall into this trap of negativity, I did attempt significantly to change what it was that I was seeing on social media. For example, I curated my social media feeds to reflect more positivity, namely with the content creators I followed. This has allowed me, when passively scrolling on social media, to be viewing posts, videos, etc. that build viewers up as opposed to filling me with negative feelings.
Self Care: My home is my happy place and as such, I focused on more deliberate self care opportunities while at home. This year, I rediscovered my love for reading. This has become one of the most important methods of self care for me. When my anxiety is at its highest, reading allows for me to slow down my anxious thoughts and to process things in a much healthier way. The only downside is that this new hobby has become one that is very expensive and time consuming. My goal for next year is to continue to focus on this aspect of self care in a financially healthier way.
Boundaries: I have struggled with setting healthy boundaries for my entire life. I have struggled with this in personal and professional relationships alike. This year, with the guidance of my best friend, I made boundaries one of my top priorities. Understanding that it is okay to say “no.” I have quickly noticed that although feelings of guilt or anxiety may emerge initially, the long term benefit of drawing (and most importantly, sticking to) boundaries pays off immensely in the long run. I seem to have more patience in personal relationships while at work, with an increase in boundaries, I am able to manage stress much more effectively.
Grace: We always hear that we are our own biggest critic, and I myself am no exception to that mentality. In 2022, I made it a point to give myself more grace. This is not to say that I wanted to give myself a free pass for every action, but I wanted to ensure that I was allowing myself the understanding that mistakes happen. This was not easy for me. My anxiety tends to result in the over analysis of everything, at times convincing myself that something I said or did could have devastating implications. I chose to make giving myself grace a priority. I have noticed that in instances where my anxiety would typically take over, by focusing on giving myself grace, I ended up maintaining a sense of calm much more often.
While I could continue this list, I want to leave you with the opportunity to compose your own “wrap-up” of your 2022 mental health journey. As 2022 comes to a close, I acknowledge how grateful I am for WhiteFlag. Many of the aforementioned successes would have been significantly more difficult to attain had it not been for the support and guidance reached on WhiteFlag. Take the time to celebrate yourself as 2022 ends and remember to set goals for your mental health journey as we move into 2023.
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