2020 has been all sorts of emotional highs and lows for many of us. We have all had an interesting 2020, eventful in many great and some heartbreaking ways. However, you’re still here and that’s what we celebrate.
When I started this column, I really wanted it to be a platform we can all learn from. I had seen how 2020 had affected so many people’s mental health and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do some work on that and help people feel better.
This week’s article, as the last one of 2020, will be a recap of what I took you through this year. I will just separate it in terms of what I believe are some key pillars of mental wellness.
If you have followed the articles you have seen how much emphasis I put on how taking care of ourselves first is not selfish, it’s self-care. I come from Zimbabwe and I am from the Shona tribe, and our culture is collectivist. So for those that are not familiar with this type of culture, doing things for others is a huge part of it. This often means we take care of everyone first and think of ourselves last. I have had to learn over time to choose me first because as great as it is to serve everyone first, it’s unhealthy to do that all the time.
Take care of your thinking pattern, take care of your health habits, take care of your behavioural patterns. As I have shown over the past few months, self-care is a central part of taking care of mental health because when you take care of yourself, you do life better. As was highlighted in October, build great self-care habits in every area of your life (how you pursue goals in life, how you grow in the areas of your life, how you do relationships and how you become a leader of self and others).
So, as we take care of ourselves, we become more self-aware. When I talked about this in September, it was within the process of emotional healing. Self-awareness is a deep knowledge of self, looking at how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards. When you are self-aware, you are in a good position to self-improve. As it’s been said, people who know better do better. So, self-awareness helps your mental health because you are better able to see where you need help to improve your mental health, so you start getting it.
When it comes to awareness of others, this is a healthy way to know how to deal with others. Some of the stressful issues we experience when dealing with others are as a result of not paying attention to what people say without using their words. Understanding how others express their emotions is of great help in building great relationships. It helps us set healthy boundaries and form honest and caring relationships. Will cover more of this next year, but until then, pay attention to your and others’ emotions.
As I end the summary, a lifestyle of mindfulness is essential to your mental health. Mindfulness is when you have a deeper sense of awareness and you are able to identify how you are feeling. Mindfulness is practiced by looking at yourself, and your environment. When you are mindful, you are aware of the emotions you are feeling but you are also paying close attention to how you express them.
Mindfulness allows you to be in an environment or situation without feeling particular pressure from any emotion. It enables you to process fully and operate from a place of deeper understanding. When I covered what we will do to take care of ourselves when we experience disappointments and over the hectic holidays, it was all different forms of practicing mindfulness. Will cover this in depth in the new year, but as you close off 2020, process everything from a mindful place, taking time to process without over exerting or exhausting yourself emotionally.
That was 2020! I have enjoyed sharing all this with you and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2021. Send in other topics you would want me to address so we can continue making the necessary changes that help us make our thinking and our living better.
Until next time remember, when you change your thinking, you can change your life.
Cynthia M is a Mental Wellness Coach trained in Psychology. She works with different
individuals and groups to help them establish a more balanced state of emotional wellbeing so
they can experience a better quality of life.