How are you doing, friend? I mean really? This past year has been a dumpster fire. Insanely tumultuous. Baffling and blessed. A few days into the New Year and it already seems as if we require a reset from the one 2021 graciously extended to us. You feelin’ me, mama?
I’m trying to be more intentional about my mental health. The most important thing to preserve is my heart and mind. There are so many areas I can focus on, but I am really honing in on what feeds my soul: creativity, social justice, being an encourager, showing up for my family and community, and choosing projects that make me feel alive.
With every-day overwhelm as a mama, throw in a pandemic and the uncertainty of our country, second-guessing decisions, and we could all benefit from someone coming alongside us to guide us in being gracious to ourselves and our self-care. Society has placed expectations on us about what a “good woman” is for millennia. You are in charge of child-rearing, keep the household running smoothly, required to wear various hats at all times and know when to adjust accordingly, clean, volunteer, work crazy hours at a job, do the shopping, run the errands, be carpool mom, project manager, bring home a paycheck, spend quality time with your kids and partner, manage virtual learning, be the teacher, fit in some exercise, eat well, sleep enough, attend to everyone’s needs and then some. No wonder we are left feeling frazzled and inadequate.
I know I have felt caught up in the crossfire trying to fit into the person people “expect” me to be. I have done that my whole life—showing up and being reliable and fitting the mold of everyone’s needs and wants. I’m human, I fail, I have flaws, but I show up for them. I realize now, it is time to show up for me. There was a local mental health campaign that gifted counseling sessions to those in need. Before, the notion was therapy was for the weak or those who don’t have it all together. It was a taboo topic. Thankfully, in recent years, a light has shone on these delicate places and more people are receptive that mental health is a priority.
I once found myself in a very dark spiral that took me many years to climb out of. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and I feel that I am on the other side and am able to be a blessing to others who might need the encouragement. However, life is still happening –aging parents, medical diagnosis, parenting challenges, Covid, and social justice issues—they are all delicate, in and of themselves. I desire to stay ahead of the curve and seek positive solutions to help me navigate this phase of my life. It is nice to have someone in your corner who is nonjudgmental, willing to listen and advocate for you to succeed. We all need cheerleaders. Read that again, please. We ALL NEED CHEERLEADERS. People say to check in on your strong friends who seem to have it all together, your quiet friends who keep things to themselves, the observers, listeners, the huggers, givers, doers, even the leave-me-aloners. The truth is we could all benefit from some type of therapy. It could be professionally, it could be through social media groups, it could be a friend or trusted family member, an online support group, or community small groups and/or churchgoers and willing mentors.
I myself have sought out professional counseling, plugged in with an encouraging women’s group online, connected with mamas in the same phase of life as me, and followed those in the personal development arena. If you are looking for free support, please check out Dave Hollis and the “Goal Getter Challenge,” Mel Robbins’s free courses on making the most of your year, Brendon Butchard on personal and professional growth, Trent Shelton and Anthony Trucks on overcoming adversity, Jay Shetty on mindfulness, Brene Brown on knowing the difference between guilt, shame, and anxiety, as well as podcasts and TEDTalks that pay homage to these topics.
There are so many resources available, mama. I want to encourage you to know you are not alone. Make yourself a priority. The adage is true—“you cannot pour from an empty cup.” Please care for your mental health like you would a newborn baby. Nurture it, care for it, love it with compassion and tenderness. The work may be hard in order to deconstruct some issues you are facing, but the growth will be worth it, and will free you to be the beautiful person you were created to be.