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Why Self-Care is a Must for Mental Health

Self-care is a must for mental health, and the sooner you embrace the necessity, the sooner you can prioritize your well-being.

In this introductory podcast episode, released just in time for the busy holiday season, I share the moment I realized I truly needed to practice self-care, why it was necessary for my mental health, and where we (yoga teachers) go from here.

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Self-Care and Mental Health Transcript

I want to start us off with one of my favorite quotes. This one is by TKV Desikachar.

“A good yoga teacher is not necessarily someone who can perform all manner of complicated asanas. To live the life of a yogi is about faith that continuously guides the teacher towards practices leading to harmony.”

One of the reasons this is my favorite quote is because it doesn’t emphasize a person’s size or race or their ability to hook their foot behind their head. Instead, Desikachar specifically uses practices that lead us to harmony. I interpret that to mean any practice that brings about harmony could be considered yoga.

So instead of focusing on breathing and meditation techniques or holiday-themed sequences you can teach in your classes this month, it seemed like the right time to share with you my own mental health journey and the practices I embarked on to lead me back to harmony.

Especially since this time of year can bring stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, overwhelm, sadness. For a lot of people, this is not a joyful and happy time.

When my mental Health Journey Began

My journey began, the date is seared into my head, it’s July 3rd, 2022. I remember the date because it was the day before the 4th of July. This is the day that I describe as falling apart.

I started feeling kind of off, kind of weird. My limbs started shaking and my heart started racing. I thought my blood pressure was doing something funky. So I went to lay down in my bed, and the sensation only got worse. I’m pacing the bathroom, feeling really nauseous, like I’m going to throw up. I didn’t know what was wrong.

I’m vacillating between “is this a panic attack? Or is this something that I need to go to the ER and have addressed?” After about 10 minutes of dealing with this on my own, I did the next hardest thing. Through some guilt and shame, and embarrassment, I called out for my husband.

I consider myself a strong, independent person and I can handle things and take care of myself. But I was just not in a place where I could handle all of this by myself.

He’s talking me through, he’s asking me if I want to go to the hospital. At some point that all changed and I’m just, I’m crying, I’m crying and crying, huge bawling tears, racking my body.

I knew in that moment when I was crying that I was having a major panic attack. I also realized in that moment that I was not okay.

Smiling through the discomfort

One of the reasons that I remember the date so well is because the next day we went to my parents house with the kids to go swimming and celebrate the 4th of July.

I was a shaky mess the entire time, smiling through my discomfort. I was working super hard to hide my emotions from my kids and my parents because I just wasn’t in a space to talk about it, or worse, be judged for it, or receive unsolicited advice. I’m sure the comments would have been well-intended but I was too raw in my current state to take it in a constructive way.

Once I had that, fully unraveling, that unspooling of my thread, if you will, I knew I needed to start taking the steps to re-thread, to get healthy. So one of the first steps that I took in regaining some mental health is I made sure truly that nothing physically or medically was wrong.

I scheduled all of my appointments, the family doctor, the gynecologist, the mammogram, the colonoscopy, all of those fun diagnostic tests that are required at milestone ages.

Seeking help through therapy

Then, while I checked off doctor’s appointments, I turned to the handful of therapists who’d taken yoga teacher training from me for recommendations, and I feel super blessed that I had people that I could reach out to, to get those recommendations.

Since I’m a big believer in timing and synchronicity, the first therapist that I reached out to that was recommended to me had one opening left and the practice accepted my husband’s insurance.

Again, I was feeling very blessed and like this was the right thing at the right time and the next right step for me to do. I found myself sitting on her couch for the first time in August. So about a month after I had my panic attack, I was sitting in the therapist’s office. And one of the first questions that she asked was, why are you seeking therapy?

What’s been a really interesting part of the journey is the reason I thought I was going to therapy turned out to only be a really small portion of the reason why July 3rd, 2022 was my unraveling. I told my therapist, “I need to get my anxiety under control. I feel like my anxiety led to having this panic attack.” 

She’s like, “Okay, great. We can definitely talk about that. And I can work with you and give you some strategies that will help you to cope with and deal with your anxiety.” She was super kind at the time to not, like, give me what she really thought was going on that early.

mental health meltdown

Over the next few months, talking openly, practicing the strategies that she gave me, I discovered that day was kind of a perfect storm of everything that was going on in my life.

  • We had a kid preparing to go to college.
  • I was going through my first stages of peri-menopause.
  • I was coming out of the pandemic with everybody else.
  • I had a business that was for all intents and purposes failing.

I was just mentally, at my lowest point, burned out in all areas: momhood, working, womanhood, everything, and it all came crashing down like a house of cards.

I’m still in therapy, however over the course of about 16 months, I came to recognize that anxiety was only a small part. My anxiety probably kicked off because of all of these other things that were taking place. My body was telling me I need to take care of myself.

Taking care of oneself, we might think of this as self-care, and I’m kind of meh about the word “self-care” because it has such a negative connotation. When the truth of the matter is that we all need to see to our own needs. To take care of ourselves mentally and physically if we want to be around to do the things that we want to do.

I have also discovered some other things along the way that I hope to share with you in the future but I want to keep this first episode short and sweet because I know we’re all super busy. We’re all running around with the holidays, trying to keep our heads above water. It’s a trying time for a lot of people.

take care of yourself first

As you’re going about and you’re doing all the things, please remember that you don’t have to do all of the things. If it’s better for your mental health to not go to your third holiday party, then give yourself that permission to not go to that holiday party or whatever it is that when you think about it, you feel the stress and the anxiety building in your body.

Give yourself permission to not do all of the things.

The other thing that I would really encourage also is to give yourself some time. Some time out. If that means going into your closet and locking the door and having five minutes to yourself without people breathing down your neck, pulling you in a bunch of different directions, then you should absolutely take that step for you.

(Listen to this 5-Minute Giving Permission Guided Meditation)

I’m super fortunate to have a supportive spouse, the means and the ability to seek medical help, go to the doctors, get a therapist, and not everybody has that option. Mental health is a serious thing, and if you’re struggling this holiday season, I want you to know that I understand. I see you.

If you need an ear or you need someone to talk to, know that you can reach out to me. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please seek immediate help from professional resources.

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