We are in 2022 and mental health is still somewhat of a taboo subject. Indeed, taking care of our mind, as we take care of our body, is an absolute necessity that we still have to assimilate, internalize and normalize. As a journalist, I have been writing on this subject for several years, and I try, without always succeeding, to put into practice the precious advice that the experts have given me over the course of my interviews. They are many and difficult to summarize in a few lines, but here are the ones that stuck in my mind and which, in one way or another, have made my life easier ever since.
#1. Self-care isn’t selfish
One of the first articles I wrote on mental health was titled “Why self-care should be a priority in our lives”. This sentence, I repeat it to myself every time I feel guilty for taking a moment to take care of my physical and my mental. I also keep in mind what the psychologist told me Sara Noheda : “I can help others as long as I am well. If I’m not well, I have nothing to offer. It all starts with me. This is not a selfish approach but a realistic approach.” Also, thinking that taking care of yourself is not a priority often triggers another negative thought: believing that others have to do it for us and locking ourselves into a vicious circle of negative complaints that does not benefit anyone.
#2. Worrying all the time is irresponsible
Until recently, I always worried about problems before they happened, a way for me to anticipate and be ready if something went wrong. Now, when I find myself ruminating, I think back to the words of the psychologist Ana Gutierrez Laso : “The ‘pre-worry’ defines the internal state which precedes the effective management of a problem. However, the goal is not to waste your energy replaying all imaginable scenarios in your head, but to get to work as soon as possible. When worry is excessive, it leads to blockage rather than an effective response.”
#3. Positivity can be worked
For some time I have been trying to get rid of this idea that positivity is a state of mind inextricably linked to personality, a natural talent that we are born with or not. It’s a facile argument that many experts refute. “You can learn to be positive, but it takes work and consistency to get there. Change is hard because our minds are used to thinking a certain way,” the cyberpsychology researcher once explained to me. Blanca Tejero Claver. It is worth making an effort.
#4. We can’t do everything
Messages fromempowerment that hammer us that we can achieve anything if we want to generate what we call a toxic positivity. The reality is that failure is part of life. As the psychologist would say Jose Elias : “Failures are stepping stones to success.” You have to accept that, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t work. “It’s simple: we always have a thousand things to do, according to the psychologist Ibana Hijosa Sola. Our lives are becoming more and more complex, so we must learn to determine what can be done today and what can be postponed.
#5. Self-esteem is teamwork
A while ago I heard the Spanish actress Cayetana Guillén Cuervo talk about the need to create “a network of solidarity between women”. This initiative is all the more necessary since numerous studies have shown that women have less self-confidence than men, right from childhood. A study published in the journal Science in 2017 also showed that six-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe members of their sex are “really smart.” That’s why I like to practice positive reinforcement with the people around me, pointing out the good things that come out of them and talking to them with affection. It is good for my mental health and that of others.
#6. You are your best friend
“When a woman sees herself as her best friend, life is easier.” This quote from Diane Von Furstenberg is very true. Why am I so demanding of myself? I admit that I tend to self-flagellate when I make mistakes, but now I try to remember this sentence.
#7. Mental health is not taboo
In recent years, many celebrities have opened up about their mental health issues, normalizing a topic that has long been considered taboo. Talking openly about our mental health as we talk about other aspects of our health is very beneficial and, as explained to me by the psychologist Ana Gomez de Escauriza“sharing our feelings and emotions helps us better manage and regulate them”.
#8. You have to think less to be happier
In the era ofoverthinking and uncertainty, this process of mental cleansing and psychological minimalism has been very beneficial to me. It’s not easy to stop these excessive thoughts that are activated, but as soon as I feel them coming, I remember what the psychologist told me Pilar Guerra : “It is impossible to be happy when we are plagued by self-reproaches that destroy us or comparisons with others that torture us.”
Translation by Sandra Proutry-Skrzypek
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