The Simple Tools That Have Saved My Mental Health


“Think
of
the
world…you
carry
within
yourself
and
set
it
above
everything
that
you
notice
about
you.
Your
inmost
happening
is
worth
your
whole
love,
that
is
what
you
must
somehow
work
at,
and
not
lose
too
much
time
and
too
much
courage
in
explaining
your
attitude
to
people.”
~Rainer
Maria
Rilke

My
twenties
taught
me
many
things
about
navigating
the
outside
world
as
an
adult.
Ironically,
the
biggest
lesson
was
learning
to
pay
close
attention
to
my
inner
world.

I
turned
thirty
years
young
this
year.
Being
on
the
cusp
of
a
new
decade
feels
momentous.

Over
these
last
ten
years,
I
have
struggled
with

depression,
anxiety,
and
a
crippling
lack
of
self-confidence.
On
more
than
one
occasion,
I
have
looked
down
the
dark
abyss
that
awaits
anyone
with
mental
health
issues.
I
even
underwent
counseling
and
therapy,
sought
recourse
in
medication,
opened
up
to
friends,
and
plunged
myself
unapologetically
into
the
“self-help”
universe.

As
I
share
my
own
battle,
this
frankness
and
willingness
to
be
vulnerable
may
come
as
a
surprise
to
some.
Even
in
the
modern
world,
the
stigma
of
mental
health
illness
remains
omnipresent.
We
are
conditioned
to
just
“deal
with
it
as
a
passing
phase,”
“snap
out
of
it,”
or,
“toughen
up.”

Men,
especially,
are
forced
into
a
unidimensional
version
of
masculinity—any
outward
display
of
emotion
is
a
weakness.

We
are
indoctrinated
with
the
notion
that
illnesses
of
the
mind
are
illegitimate
and
unworthy
of
public
discourse.

Despite
limiting
beliefs
around
open
conversation,
very
few
are
spared
from
mental
illness
in
their
private
lives.
Once
others
see
a
possibility
for
dialogue,
they
begin
to
share
too.

Showing
your
bleeding
wounds
to
another
human
being
requires
courage.
But
authenticity
is
infectious.
We
might
inspire
others
with
our
determination
to

remain
vulnerable
and
ask
for
help.
Over
these
last
few
months,
several
friends
and
acquaintances
have
shared
their
personal
struggles
with
me.

Every
time
another
person
tells
me
they
feel
overwhelmed
by
their
brains,
my
heart
breaks
a
little.
Incessant
dark
thoughts
and
emotions
have
taken
over
their
daily
lives.

The
problem
of
mental
ailments,
like
depression
and
anxiety,
is
that
unshakeable
feeling
of
helplessness
and
hopelessness.
You
feel
that
there
is
no
way
out
and,
no
matter
what
happens,
the
bad
feelings
will
never
go
away.
This
distorted
version
of
the
truth
presented
by
our
brains
convinces
us
that
we
have
no
agency.

I
know
that
numbed,
broken
version
of
one’s
self
that
emerges
as
a
result
of
these
illnesses.
But
things
can
get
better
and,
sure,
it
is
not
instantaneous;
recovery
may
require
several
approaches.
Today,
I
want
to
share
what
I
have
learned
through
my
own
experience.

Wisdom
is
nothing
but
the
ability
to
offer
a
piece
of
yourself
to
another
human
being.
I
wish
I
could
reach
out
to
every
person
in
the
world
who
is
suffering
from
a
mental
health
problem.
I
want
to
tell
you
that
there
is
hope,
lurking
even
within
the
shadows.
To
summarize
the
common
tools
that
have
helped
me
feel
better,
I
list
three.
And
remember,
none
of
these
take
time:
they
actually
make
time—better
use
of
your
time.

1.
Meditation

A
few
years
ago,
I

started
meditating
daily.
It
has
changed
my
life.
I
started
out
with
cynicism
(like
many
people):
How
can
I
sit
so
still
when
I
feel
so
empty
and
tired?
How
will
I
quieten
my
constant
mental
chatter?
Don’t
I
first
need
to
feel
calm
to
even
think
about
meditation?
Does
it
even
work?

The
response
to
all
of
the
above
questions
and
any
others
that
are
keeping
you
from
meditation
is:
just
do
it
and
keep
at
it.
Yes!
You
don’t
need
all
the
answers
beforehand.
You
don’t
need
to
be
spiritual.
You
don’t
need
to
join
a
retreat,
become
a
yogi,
or
spend
hours.

You
don’t
need
perfection,
you
need
practice.

Find
a
quiet
place,
close
your
eyes,
put
on
earphones,
and
follow
a
guided
meditation.
Or
if
you
prefer,
do
one
yourself.
And
let
go
of
the
worry
about
doing
it
right,
there
is
no
such
thing!
It
is
time
you
take
for
yourself,
and
what
can
be
better
than
making
yourself
a
priority?

Meditation
helps
refresh
my
mind-space
amidst
the
darkest
spells.
It
has
brought
me
closer
to
my
inner
self.
It
has
led
me
to
observe
my
thoughts,
not
alter,
judge,
or
arrest
them—just
observe
them
like
traveling
clouds.
Meditation
has
taught
me
to
look
inward
and
enjoy
the
stillness
in
my
core,
despite
all
the
worries
and
anxiety
in
the
foreground.

Honestly,
just
try
it;
you’ll
find
it
addictive
once
you
begin
to
build
the
muscle
of
meditation.
Remember
to
stick
with
it
though—meditating
is
a
habit,
a
journey
and
not
an
intrinsic
skill.
No
one
is
“made”
for
meditation,
we
all
learn
it.
So
be
patient
with
yourself.

2.
Mindfulness

Writer
Eckhart
Tolle
talks
about
the
tendency
of
our
minds
to
forever
escape
the
present
moment.
We
are
too
much
in
the
past
or
too
much
in
the
future.
In
his
life-altering
book


The
Power
of
Now
,
he
says
all
our
worries,
fears,
and
anxieties
stem
from
this
predisposition.
Mindfulness
is
the
practice
of
grounding
of
one’s
self
in
the
now,
in
this
moment:
this
breath,
just
as
it
is.

Easier
said
than
done?
I
agree!
Also
why
I
believe
that,
like
meditation,
mindful
awareness
is
a
practice,
a
discipline.

That
said,
each
one
of
us
has

experienced
mindfulness
presence
without
realizing
it.
Every
time
a
sunset,
a
panorama,
a
movie,
a
song,
or
a
loved
one
takes
your
breath
away
and
you
are
suspended
in
bliss—you
are
mindfully
present.
You
are
nowhere
else
but
in
that
moment
of
joy.
Doing
this
even
without
the
positive
stimulus
is
the
challenge.

A
key
element
in
mindfulness
is
acceptance
or
surrender:
not
adding
to
the
suffering
of
a
moment
by
wishing
it
were
otherwise.

When
we
resist
reality,
our
present
life-situation,
we
unconsciously
build
up
resistance
to
what
is,
the
“is-ness”
of
this
moment.
And
resistance
isn’t
bad—on
the
contrary,
resistance
is
what
we
can
use
to
become
mindful
and
present!
However,
surrender
does
not
mean
inaction;
it
means
accepting
what
exists
as
true
before
deciding
if
action
is
necessary.
Reaction
is
impulsive,
mindful
action
is
deliberate
and,
in
my
case,
wiser
and
calmer.

Preventatively
drawing
my
attention
to
the
present,
at
regular
intervals
during
the
day,
has
helped
me
strengthen
my
awareness.

Sometimes
when
I
am
walking,
I
quietly
try
to
observe
my
physical
body,
my
breath
and
my
energy.
My
aliveness.
Mindfulness
means
becoming
the
witness:
noticing
that
you’re
noticing.
Thoughts
will
pop
like
bubble-wrap
but
if
you
don’t
engage
with
them,
don’t
build
a
story
or
try
to
use
words
and
labels,
they
will
slide
away.

Focus
on
the
sensations,
the
feelings
you’re
feeling;
not
the
noise
in
your
mind.
The
witness
inside
is
the
mindful,
true
Me.
When
I
glimpse
that
dimension,
free
from
mind
and
outer
body,
even
for
a
split
second,
I
know
I
am
free
and
at
peace.

3.
Self-love
and
gratitude

Like
many,
I
grew
up
with
a
brittle
sense
of
self.
Growing
up
I
was
the
model
student.
Yet,
in
my
teens
and
early
twenties,
I
began
to
spiral
into
shame
and

self-hate.
As
I
navigated
different
cultures,
countries,
languages,
and
expectations
over
the
last
decade,
I
often
found
myself
feeling
stuck.
I
felt
inferior,
unworthy,
inadequate,
different
and
“foreign.”
Feeling
like
an
outsider
only
reinforced
my
innate
lack
of
self-esteem.

I
still
struggle
with
those
feelings
of
not
being
good
enough,
tall
enough,
smart
enough,
successful
enough,
handsome
enough,
rich
enough,
white
enough,
and
the
list
goes
on.
I
have
to
remind
myself,
consciously
and
repeatedly,
that
I

am

enough.
No
matter
where
I
live,
what
I
do
or
look
like,
I
am
complete
and
I
am
okay.

Self-love
might
sound
selfish
and
egotistic.
But
in
fact,
the
most
important
person
in
your
life
is
you!
You
need
to
be
okay
to
help
and
love
others.
Self-love
means
being
gentle
to
yourself,
not
insulting
yourself
when
you
fall
or
make
mistakes.

I
had
to
learn
to
take
care
of
myself
as
I
would
a
close
friend
or
loved
one.
It
doesn’t
come
easy
because
we
are
raised
in
a
culture
where
putting
your
own
sense
of
self
last
is
virtuous,
a
thing
to
be
proud
of.

I
believe
we
all
need
to
learn
ourselves,
just
the
way
we
are.
I
would
go
so
far
as
to
say,
that
is
the
whole
game.
It’s
a
tricky
one
to
win,
but
we
ought
to
keep
trying.
Start
simply:
Check
your
thoughts
when
you
pity
yourself
or
put
yourself
down
(yes,
you
know
that
negative
self-talk
where
your
brain
tells
you
how
slow/fat/ugly/poor/lonely/unloved/silly
you
are!).

When
we
can
look
at
ourselves
in
the
mirror
and
feel
genuine
love
for
the
person
we
see—true
deep
affection
for
our
whole
selves,
with
all
the
bad
and
good
—that’s
unconditional
self-love.
I
told
you,
it
won’t
be
easy,
but
it
is
rewarding.
When
you
can
be
fully
you,
life
is
simpler.

While

self-care
has
taught
me
to
appreciate
myself,
exactly
as
I
am,
daily
gratitude
has
helped
expand
that
compassion
to
a
wider
range
of
things.
Every
day
I
give
thanks
for
being
alive,
healthy,
able-bodied,
young,
loved,
taken
care
of,
with
comforts
(food,
water,
shelter,
money),
luxury,
and
freedom.

Gratitude
radically
changes
my
perspective—from
focusing
on
deprivation,
on
what’s
missing,
it
throws
light
on
what
I
do
have.
It
can
make
us
connected
to
reality
in
a
more
balanced
and
harmonious
way.
Gratitude,
for
myself
or
life,
has
helped
me
come
unstuck
when
everything
feels
wretched
and
uphill.

Growing
up
is
a
process,
life
a
constant
journey.
Along
the
way,
these
practices
are
helping
me
understand
that
I
can
feel
better
and
be
better.
Ultimately,
we
all
wish
to
experience
joy
and
be
at
peace
with
ourselves.
This
is
a
reminder
for
me
and
you—to
reach
out
and
proactively
work
towards
our
own
well-being.
Talk
and
share
with
others.
Stay
open.

Next
time
things
aren’t
going
well,
try
to
meditate
or
maybe
focus
on
the
present
moment.
Or
give
thanks
for
all
that
you
do
have
and
be
kind
to
yourself.
Speak
to
a
friend
or
a
specialist.
And
if
it
helps,
read
this
again.

About

Tejas
Yadav

Tejas
Yadav
is
a writer, scientist
and
amateur photographer. He
enjoys
a
good
coffee,
traveling
to
new
places
and
learning
foreign
languages.
Currently,
he
lives
in
Paris,
France.

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