Doing one last check in for 2018. Can you believe the end of the year is already here? While the masses prep their newfound resolutions and make solemn vows of what they won’t bring into the new year? My thoughts lately have been focused more on remembering what’s truly important, caring for myself … This includes my mental health.
Rather than add to the never-ending list of goals I keep for myself, I’ve decided to focus on celebrating a peaceful state of mind. This past year has been one for the books. Not only did I move abroad and begin cultivating new pieces for my global webstore … But I spent a year working to cultivate pediatric friendly support services and environmental changes within a brand new children’s hospital in Qatar (located in the (Middle East). To many, that sounds amazing … And it is. but full transparency? It’s also super draining emotionally, especially far from home.
Truth be told, I’ve alway been somewhat of an anxious person. As a kid, I worried about grades, making friends, and being liked … The usual stuff. I also worried something catastrophic may have happened to my mom if she were a few minutes late from work ... Not so typical. As a teen became preoccupied with presenting perfection to the world. Always kind, smart, well dressed, and getting perfect grades … I also became the moody adolescent who’s world would fall apart for days / weeks at a time if things fell out of place.
By grad-school? It all crumbled apart when a combination of anxiety, an overachiever / perfectionist mentality, and burning the candle at both ends came to a head … My 1st panic attack … And even then? It took time for me to really sit down and unpack it all. I still have more work to do on that front, if we’re being real .. And possibly why I chose not to share my full journey with anxiety here just yet. The concept of clinical anxiety vs. “just feeling really nervous” is a concept many are only just coming to understand.
This can be increasingly true when living abroad. In many countries / cultures around the world, mental health and self-care is rarely (if at all) discussed. Add to this, the stressors of:
Changes to your environment
Trying to find a new social circle
Not having adequate access to medical professionals or perhaps your previous therapist back home
Navigating race, class, gender in a new social structure (yes, stories on my experience as a black woman in the Middle East are coming, stay tuned)
These, plus so many others, can all add to an already stressful personal experience. So what to do? Personally, what’s helped me stay calm and collected while living overseas has included:
Finding mental health professionals to chat with, even sporadically, in my new country (if services are available)
Acknowledging my triggers and being mindful when engaging them
Being comfortable in taking alone time for myself
Finding enjoyable, low-stimulation settings (think drinks at a fave tea shop vs. liquor at a loud club)
Connecting with loved ones back home
Reaching out to / sharing openly (if possible) when I’m feeling anxious (you aren’t alone)
Prioritizing time to do enjoyable things, even if it’s solo
Practicing self-care techniques on the fly when anxiety arises. (yes, I will do yoga in the middle of the office, lol)
Managing my professional / social calendar (it’s ok to postpone, reschedule, or just say you can’t right now)
In short, as the New Year rings in? Rather than focusing on pressuring myself to stack more on my “to-do list” or getting rid of old habits, I’m rekindling some old ones I honestly need to get better at practicing.
My 2019 plan includes remembering to make both my physical and mental health as much a priority as I do other aspects of my life … Thanking the amazing people who continue to support / love me both in times of great success and when I stumble .. Plus realizing it’s ok to be gentle with myself. The world has it’s own set of pressures. There’s no need for me to add more weight, if possible.
Special thanks to Sharq Village and Spa for the incredible staycation experience. This is definitely what I call some fancy self-care : )
How cute is this week’s bathing suit? While many might call the pattern “tye-dye” .. Here’s another example of cultural fabrics, in this case African “batik fabric,” being incorporated into the mainstream fashion market place. For more deets on traditional ankara & batik fabric tap the blog button below … Hope to see you there!
Alright loves, ‘till next time … The Journey Continues