The Sunkissed Life


Jahara Stevenson

Mental Health is something very near and dear to my heart. I think it is the most important part of who we are as humans and the most neglected. We are so caught up in our lives and our daily functions that we forget how essential it is to make sure we are mentally and emotionally healthy. It can be as simple as cancelling plans one day, sitting in bed, and painting my nails listening to Adele with lit candles and a mug of hot tea. Sometimes we forget that we are often so overstimulated by everyday life, and that it is necessary to "turn off" for a little while. We have to learn to exist in ourselves every now and then and just be. Some days we just need to exist rather than do. Reminding ourselves what it is to just take in life at our own pace and appreciating the ability to exist can be the difference between having a mental breakdown and holding it together. I used to go non stop no matter how I felt, fill my calendar from sun up to sun down, and push until my body and mind literally exploded and forced me to sit still. Then when I had to be still because it was my only option, I was anxious and on edge that I was now getting behind and missing everything. Now, I schedule daily activities that are non negotiable that keep me centered and calm. I am someone who suffers from intense anxiety attacks. They can be somewhat scary depending on the severity and have caused some massive moments for me. I haven't had a debilitating attack in almost 3 months now. I made the decision to switch some things to minimize the situations that build up leading to an attack. I am a planner. I love to work out the details and have everything figured out down to the smallest most minute detail. That being said, if I can plan it I will. I plan out time with my friends, time with my dog, work, errands, and most importantly time with myself. In my planner Ihave scheduled, every morning, a minimum of 30 minutes of yoga. I love yoga, it is calming, centering, quiet, and allows me to spend time with me in a way I enjoy. It's in my planner, it is highlighted and happens every day no excuses. Having that time with myself is so beneficial for me. Everyone's me time looks different, mine even changes sometimes. I always do yoga because it helps with my mental but also my physical and helps me perform better at work. I also will write, do my nails, practice my art, anything that I genuinely love doing that I can do alone in any way I want. I'll rearrange my room, clean out my closet, and even clean my things. Whatever it is that I love to do, i'll do during my "me time". Some say it's a bit ridiculous to have to schedule time for myself and why schedule it just do it. For some, the just do it mentality 100% works and is effective. I'm the type of person that in my mind if it's scheduled it somehow has a higher level of importance and won't get blown off. So in my phone and in my planner scheduling is essential. I know what works for me. I also schedule my me time in pen because I hate scratching things out and am more likely to not book something else over that time. The last thing I've noticed is beneficial for me is if I realize I am at a place of feeling overwhelemed and for some reason need to stop right then, I will. I will take a mental health day because ultimately I would rather miss one day because I recognized the signs and payed attention to them, rather than ignore it let it build up and now im out for 2-3 days because I am having attack after attack and can't function. We are so worried about our kids missing one day of school rather than hearing them when they say mom it's too much I just need one day. Studies have shown that students who take a few mental health days a year perform better than those who don't. It's stopping the breakdown, preventing the dysfunction, and helping the student. Yes one day of missing class is frowned upon, but I would rather miss one day to collect myself opposed to pushing non stop having all nighters then completely losing it breaking down and then being absolutely useless to myself for longer than 24 hours thus affecting my performance and possibly causing me to do worse. Most importantly support others being mentally healthy. If your friend says no i'm going to stay in tonight and just have some me time, don't make them feel bad for picking themselves in that moment. Don't push them just because you want to go out, respect their choice. Think of you. Think of your health. Treat mental health like your physical health. Just like you need at least 8 hours of sleep for your body to run at its best, you need some mental rest for your mind to run at its best. Feed your body, soul, and mind. Ask for help when you need it, tell people no, love yourself, and together we can all be healthier.