I’m Taking a Mental Health Day

 

world mental health day

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), October 10 is World Mental Health Day. WHO observes this day annually with the objective of raising awareness about the multitude of worldwide mental health issues and the importance of allocating resources in support of mental health. This year’s theme is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.

WHO is focusing on the need for comprehensive mental health programs targeted specifically toward the younger generation, which I think is great. Unfortunately, the reality we exist in tends to approach mental health in a reactive manner: mental health issues are treatable. But very scarcely are we exposed to resources that teach us about preventative measures…methods that can be utilized to address potential issues before they have a chance to escalate.

WHO speaks of young people in a “changing world.” This era of young people: Millennials (myself included) and members of Generation Z, are coming of age in a technological environment that continues to expand at an exponential rate. With that, comes bounds of information at our fingertips, making the big ‘ol world seem a lot smaller…a lot faster.

From my own personal experience, remembering a portion of life sans Internet and growing up alongside its development, definitely helped shape how I view the world. For me, technology has given me instant access to a variety of cultures and perspectives; and it has helped me develop a strong sense of awe and empathy for others…something I don’t think would’ve been possible prior without literally traveling.

I gratefully exist in an increasingly sensitive, open-minded and fluid generation. I love it. Social boundaries are being broken, bent and re-construed in beautiful ways. However, traditional social structures label sensitivity as a negative; open-mindedness and exploration as a privilege (which is true, but it is seen through a negative lens). These filters lead to generalizations that Millennials and members of Generation Z are entitled, narcissistic and individualistic. What I’m getting at here is that while I see this “changing world” as an overall positive…it is accompanied by new, complex sociological and mental challenges.

Myself and most of my peers are at points in our lives where the terms “burnt out” or “overwhelmed” are common phrases used in conversation regarding well-being. We are the generation that went straight to college, racked up loans, jumped on that stable job to start paying those loans with a quickness…fast forward to 3-4 years in the workforce, grinding day-in and day-out. (ooooh I can already imagine how far back the eyes of Generation X and the Baby Boomers are rolling right now) We are the generation of dreamers: pursuing side hustles, fostering passion projects and/or creating our own jobs, with plans to break free from the traditional structures that we originated from.

Unlike generations before us, we are inundated with access to so much at all times that the stakes are constantly being raised, standards are increasingly higher, expectations are continually (and seemingly) unattainable, and our perception of our own potential for success is constantly being challenged through wide-casted comparisons to others. These technology-stemmed social pressures support a culture of overworking, overwhelming and overexerting ourselves…spreading ourselves too thin.


Stress Knows Not What Age Is

In the end, while the causes of previous generations’ development of mental health problems differ from that of today’s generation, they have similar origins. From my own observations of myself and those in my circle of family and friends, unaddressed stressors and their triggers are what lead to the development of anxieties, and frustrations. Regardless of one’s generation, it all seems to boil down to two things:

  1. a lack of self reflection – people are so busy with their lives hustling, stuck in routine, fixated on a goal (or multiple). It’s important for my sanity to step back on a regular basis to reflect on my intentions behind my actions, evaluate if those have changed and recalibrate if necessary. “Adjust accordingly” has been one of my mottos for a number of years now. It essentially reminds me to have a plan, know that the plan will be deviated and that the multiple deviations do not take away from the value of the original plan. If anything, deviations add to its charm.
  2. a lack of self care – Again…people are so busy living their lives that they forget to take care of themselves. Whether it’s something as simple as getting my nails done once in a while, making time for a hobby that I enjoy or sticking to a gym schedule…it all adds up. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes! We need to be happy with ourselves (or even just my day…I’ll take what I can get lol) in order to purely provide happiness for others…in my opinion. How can we take care of others effectively and wholeheartedly if we don’t take care of ourselves first?

It’s Okay

This past year has been one of constant self reflection. Not that I haven’t already been doing that, but this year I have actively chosen to take a more mindful approach to my mental health. Finding a balance between when to say yes or no to things, experiences and people I come across. Learning to identify the little things that bring me happiness and the bad habits I need to work my way out of.

Perspective is everything. I’ve always been one to give people the benefit of the doubt, to imagine myself in another’s shoes. It helps me empathize with others and their unique circumstances that I may not understand. However, it’s only recently that I started utilizing the concept of perspective on myself and my well-being. After many talks with friends and family, many moments of reflection, here is what I’ve learned in the past year and a half:

  1. It’s okay to say no – Humans are social beings. We want to be accepted by others. Typically the word “no” isn’t the path toward acceptance/blending in. But it’s okay to say no to a night out in exchange for a solo night in from time to time. It’s okay to say no to more work projects if it’s going to negatively affect my other projects and more importantly, my ability to work on them effectively.
  2. It’s okay to ask for help – I find solace in having control over a situation or project. But control doesn’t mean I need to do everything myself. I had to learn that asking for help does not mean I am incompetent. If anything it makes me a more competent human being to admit when I can’t handle something and to appropriately delegate.
  3. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” – There’s a saying that goes something like, play to your strengths and hire others to fill your weaknesses? I don’t know (lol no pun intended) what it is exactly and frankly, I’m too lazy to look it up…but the point is that it’s not the end of the world to not know something. That’s what Google is for.
  4. It’s okay to be scared – Fear is a lot of people’s reasons for not doing certain things. I continue to fight this fight. Isn’t there another saying that speaks to finding comfort in being uncomfortable? Well, there’s something to that. Doing something I am afraid of teaches me a lot of things about myself and my capabilities. I don’t consider myself a good public speaker and I never enjoyed public speaking. But my job requires it on a regular basis and even though it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I can see myself skills improve every time.

Good Mental Habits = Good Mental Health

When discussing goals, a lot of the time people are looking to break bad habits…what if we shift perspective and look at it as developing good habits? If we continue to build more good habits in our lives, won’t they eventually outweigh the bad habits? We all have our vices, but as long as we live an 80/20 lifestyle, I think we are good. That’s a B+ lol. We can’t all be A+ students.

Here are some things I try to incorporate into my day in order to give myself a mental break and decompress: 

At Work

  1. Take your designated breaks – I admit I’m really, really bad at this. Yes I had to add an extra “really.” But I am constantly trying to get better at this. I am entitled to my breaks and work will always be there waiting for me when I get back. It’s easy to get caught up in the work, but removing myself for even just 10 minutes gives my brain a much needed rest.
  2. Utilize the Pomodoro method – My brother introduced this workflow method to me and I try to use it as much as I can. It consists of 25 minutes of uninterrupted, focused work, followed by a 5 minute short break. Repeat. It’s kind of like a game and it helps me increase my productivity 🙂 I use tomato-timer.com. You should try it out!
  3. Stretch periodically – While using the Pomodoro method, stretch during breaks. It promotes blood flow and good posture…and who doesn’t want good posture!
  4. Stay comfy – We are at work for a huge chunk of our day. Why should we be uncomfortable? Take advantage of ergonomic evaluations and accommodations if available and make your workspace as comfortable as possible. I have house slippers at my desk because I see no point in wearing real shoes unless I’m in meetings or walking outside. My co-worker runs cold, so she has a blanket at her desk. Why suffer through cold for 8 hours a day? No need.

At Home (Not at Work)

  1. Find a physical activity that you enjoy – not everyone is a gym rat, but physical health is undeniably tied to mental health. So whether its going for a daily walk, jumping rope, rock climbing or Zumba, find something that doesn’t feel like a workout. I’m still figuring this one out…
  2. Read a book – o0o novel idea there! (no pun intended…or maybe it was) It’s sad how refreshing it is to detach from a screen and read an actual book. Remember those? They still exist lol. But seriously, I forget how much I enjoy reading  a good book until I carve out time to do it. Plus, while reading a book you are guaranteed no encounters or interactions with Internet trolls. SO GREAT.
  3. Do nothing for at least 15 minutes – Why are we constantly moving from one thing to the next? Wake up, work, come home, do errands, etc. Call it what you’d like: meditating, self-reflection, zen time. I think it’s important to actually be still and be okay with being still at least for 15 minutes. Try it, it’s kind of difficult at first, but it’s possible to build up to it. I like using the Headspace app.

On Vacation

  1. Stop and smell the roses! – I’m not one to stuff my itinerary with activities when I’m on vacation. It stresses me out trying to stay on schedule…while on vacation. It’s counterintuitive! For me, the act of wandering is an essential part of vacation to me. It’s not a vacation if I don’t take my time to immerse myself in the new environment around me.
  2. Exercise – I always feel extra good about myself when I sneak a workout in during a vacation. Vacations tend to be filled with good food and a lot of lounging, only to get back home feeling like a lump of lard. No bueno. Take advantage of that underutilized hotel gym…you can fist bump the one other person in there and it’ll be a cool moment lol. Or you can go for a morning/evening run or walk. It’s a great way to see a new city! Be safe of course.

Happy World Mental Health Day

I know we live in tumultuous times and there is a constant stream of bad news infiltrating our feeds. It’s overwhelming and exhausting fighting the good fight day in and day out. That’s why I think it’s more important than ever to make sure we are taking care of all aspects of ourselves: physically, spiritually and mentally. Hopefully this day is a reminder that your mental well-being is worth prioritizing. Cheers to your peace of mind ❤

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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Let me explain…

Note to readers: I just wanted to say thank you for your patience. I’ve been experiencing a mixture of writers block and lack of inspiration after finishing my undergraduate studies at  San Diego State University this past December. But I’m back! I am finally getting into somewhat of a groove of  my post-graduation schedule and plan to post on a more consistent basis. Apologies in advance for the somewhat randomness of this post, it’s been a while! I’m a little rusty 😛 Now, onto the post!

Much needed laptop hiatus

I told myself that 2015 will be the year that I do more of what I love now that I don’t have any school work to worry about…and blogging more often is one of them. I discovered that one of the main reasons I developed a lack of inspiration was because writing became more of a chore than a leisurely past-time. The combination of my class work and work assignments had me constantly staring at a computer screen, so by the end of the day, I just wanted to separate myself from that portal of stress: my laptop.

After all of that stress, I fortunately had the opportunity to spend a full three weeks back in my hometown for the holidays before returning back to San Diego to start settling into the post-undergraduate lifestyle. My initial thought was that because I would have more time on my hands, I would be blogging more often. That apparently did not happen. I found myself fully immersed in wanting to spend quality time with my family and reconnect with my friends that I hadn’t had time to catch up with until then. Other than hopping on my  laptop to do some work remotely, I was, for the the most part, separated from it.

I figured that the purpose of my blog is to essentially document my life. But how can I document my life in any shape-or-form if I don’t take the time to experience it! So, that’s what I did. It was nice to take that time to rejuvenate. It reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a supportive home base filled with people that I always look forward to seeing when I visit. The following photos capture just some of the memories I made with my family this past holiday season (unfortunately I neglected to bring my camera to friend-related events, so my pictures of those experiences are non-existent):

However, once I got back to San Diego, I jumped right back into my work schedule and because I am currently working on a pretty big project, again, I began separating myself from my computer at the end of the day. I noticed that I would hop on my phone and get stuck in the black hole of mindless and endless scrolling. I fell once more into the blogging-hiatus hole.

Penciling-in leisure time

With all of that said, I’m going to try my best to give myself time to blog. I just need to remind myself that it’s something I enjoy doing. If that means literally having to pencil in designated blog time, SO BE IT! It’s important to take some time out of the day to do something enjoyable, even if it needs to be scheduled in. I’ve always had a knack for organization and when paired with motivation, I am known to get a lot of things done. If I continue to ride this current wave of motivation I should be able to maintain at least a semi-consistent blog schedule.

I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to keeping myself organized. You might ask: Why don’t you utilize Google Calendar and phone reminders? Well, I do and they are very helpful and quite frankly, more eco-friendly, but in order for things to stick in my brain, I need to write things out. I love making lists, color-coding them and actually checking things off. There’s something about taking a pen to paper and crossing things off a list that is very satisfying.

So what do I use to stay organized?

  • Highlighters: Color-coding things helps me differentiate between items in my planner.
  • Brain Storm Notebook: I’ve had this notebook for a while. I believe it was a gift from my friend Annie. I’ve been using this notebook every day at work to write quick notes, make short to-do lists and ultimately, brainstorm. Having a notebook handy helps me visualize what can be done, what needs to be done and what will be done during my shift.
  • Lilly Pulitzer Large Agenda: I am in LOVE with this agenda. The colors, themes and extra pages make it enjoyable to use. But most importantly, the dual layout of a monthly and weekly view of the year allows me to plan things for the long-term and have room to add details in the short-term.
  • GOALS book: The GOALS book was most recently given to me as a graduation gift. It’s the perfect addition to my organization kit because it serves as a constant reminder of the reason I work hard. Inside are prompts and forms that make it easy to visualize, outline and create a realistic plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. It’s pretty much amazing. Thanks Annie ❤
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Organization is key!

Let it be twenty-fifteen

On the note of organization and this year’s goals, I’m anxious and excited to see what this new year will bring now that I have officially finished my undergraduate studies. I have overall goals for myself and my career, but one thing I’ve learned from 2014 is that regardless of the plans I make and strive for, what’s more important is how I deal with and overcome the unexpected situations that will inevitably come my way.

The stress that often engulfed me during my undergraduate career was due to the constant struggle that is the journey to stability. But how can I someday enjoy stability with out having learned from the struggle and appreciated it? I needed to realize that it’s about enjoying every part of the journey whether it is a great moment or a low one; I need to let it be. By accepting every experience for what it is gives me the opportunity to look at the bigger picture. It reminds me to be grateful for even being able to feel.

Stress, although a very essential part of growth in life, has overwhelmed me way too many times in 2014. I want 2015 to be the year I allow myself to say yes to more new experiences and to remind myself to enjoy the present while still striving for betterment in the future. It’s all about balance.

If life is a collection of experiences, I want a diverse collection. This year I definitely plan on taking advantage of Groupon and trying different things, whether it’s a new yoga class, a painting class or seeing a show, I want to do it all! (Plus, I’m sure I’ll get them for pretty good prices 😛 )

What new things have you tried so far? I recently went snowboarding for the first time this past weekend. The chair lifts and inclines were scary, it hurt to fall, but overall it was so much fun. I definitely want to go back and get better at it!

What resolutions?

It’s still early enough in the new year for resolutions to be a hot topic. At the turn of 2015, it worried me that I wasn’t motivated to make a list this year, but then I realized that instead of making a list of things I will most likely forget in about a month, why not live this year based on the following statements and questions:

  • Work hard and stay focused. 
  • Does this make you happy? If yes, good job. If not, why are you doing it? 
  • Say yes to new things more often.
  • This moment is a good one. Take it in. 
  • Will this decision put me closer to achieving [x] goal? 
  • Remember to breath and take some time for yourself. Then go back to working hard. 
  • You are worth more than you think. 

I think by constantly reminding myself of the above, I will constantly be working towards self-improvement and that’s what I ultimately want out of not only this year, but my life in general. I never want to stop learning and growing as an individual and neither should you!

…and with that, I’ve reached the end of this hodge podge of a blog post. I just wanted to say again that I’m grateful for your patience. Even though it’s almost February, I wish you and yours a goal-oriented, hard-working and memory-filled year! Remember to try something new this year. I know I will be and most likely sharing it here 🙂

Sincerely,

Mez ❤

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My Thoughts on School Shootings

How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings by: Mark Manson

These are my thoughts after reading the article linked above: ^

On May 23, 2014, a school shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara took place. Ever since then I have been reading article upon article, a series of posts on Facebook of a variety of opinions about the shooting and have been talking to my friends and family about it. I had the urge in the days following the shooting to share my thoughts about what happened, but every time I attempted to write that post, I always froze. I didn’t know what my thoughts were exactly, I didn’t know how to feel about it other than sad and confused.

I have a couple of friends that have attended UCSB, one that actually lives in the Isla Vista community. Fortunately, he was not present during the shooting and fortunately one of the victims he knows personally is recovering in the hospital.

I was talking to my dad and my brother about the shooting and introduced the topic with: “what do you think of this?” Then I proceeded to read a Facebook post that was on my newsfeed written by a friend from school. The post spoke about misogyny and the patriarchal society that puts pressure on both men (to be dominant and “win” women) and women to submit to this type of treatment and fear for their safety on a daily basis from retaliation if they do not submit. As I read that post and many opinions similar, I did not fully agree and I didn’t know why. I am a woman. I relate to a lot of the #YesAllWomen hashtag that is trending on Twitter at the moment. Why don’t I agree with this point of view? I didn’t know until I read this article by author Mark Manson called “How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings.”

When I was speaking with my dad and brother, my dad stood on the grounds that the patriarchal society is a human instinct that would continue to be present even if a Noah and the Arc-type situation would happen, wiping out all humanity and starting again. He says that it is in nature and that, unfortunate as it is that it sacrifices true equality, it will remain. My dad is not a sexist in anyway, so do not judge him for this opinion. He just simply believes that would be extremely difficult to overturn how society has been functioning for centuries, which is a perfectly fair point.

My brother, like me, had no real standpoint on the whole situation. He just kept asking me: how would we solve a problem like this? (referring to school shootings in general) He kept asking me what I thought was the core problem and as he kept asking for my opinion, for some reason I got slightly emotional. I tried to rule out any of the labels Rogers (the shooter) was given: a misogynist, he was mentally ill and/or unstable, etc.

I just told my brother that the solution would be: “Maybe to remember to be nice to one another? A smile, a nod, eye contact with random people that you encounter on a daily basis; I believe that those small actions can make a difference.” I mentioned how everyday Ellen DeGeneres (one of my all-time favorite people) closes her show everyday with “be kind to one another.”

From there, my brother agreed and told the story about a suicidal man that left a letter saying something close to the following: “I will walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and jump off today. The only thing that will prevent me from doing it is if someone I pass by while walking acknowledges me or says hello.” He walked halfway across the bridge and jumped because no one gave him just a smidgen of the time of day to even smile at him.

Stories about shootings and suicidal plans in particular make me sad because it all boils down to how people treat each other. Regardless of a variety of viewpoints, religions, political party affiliation, we should all treat each other with respect and kindness.

I don’t know where I’m going with this post, but I guess those are my thoughts on the UCSB Isla Vista Shooting. The shooter underneath all of the labels being cast upon him, was fully aware of what he was getting himself into. He was, as Manson mentioned in his article, following a tried-and-true formula. Rogers used the media to get the attention he wanted that he was not receiving during his life in the physical world.

It’s difficult for me to comment on the media because a significant amount of my studies in public relations involves media relations, media strategy and media writing. I am aware of the power of the media in all forms (traditional and social) and I know how the general public feels about it. Many people, especially during post-school shooting circumstances, comment on how the media sensationalizes the situation and loses site of the “point” of the shooting which typically means memorializing the victims. I’ve encountered many opinions saying that the media, by constantly reporting on the event, grant exactly what the shooter desired: fame. I agree with that statement. What I would rather see in the news is highlighting the point I mentioned earlier. The point that society as a whole needs to treat each other better; that if we all took this opportunity to evaluate ourselves and the environment we interact with in, that action in itself would better the community. I agree with Manson when he says that the reason why school shootings always take the community by surprise is because the shooters are always someone that was “hiding in plain site.”

I believe that everything happens for a reason and as unfortunate as this situation is, we should take it as an opportunity to learn and better ourselves as individuals. We have the power as individuals to make the community a better and more inviting place to be in. We need to unglue our eyes from our mobile devices once in a while and pay attention to the world around us as it is happening. By living in the present, having an open mind and being compassionate for others in whatever situation they may find themselves in, I strongly believe that less violence would occur.

Anyways, I encourage you to read this article. It really does touch on a lot of forgotten points that should be touched upon during such a tragic incident. My heart goes out to all those affected by the UCSB shooting. May you and your loved ones find peace. ❤

Sincerely,

Mez