In todays society, we are constantly hearing about bullying, self-harm, poor self-esteems, body image, and even suicide in the media. Everyone is talking about how horrible these things are and how each of us needs to watch what we say, God forbid it hurts someone else’s feelings. We hear that we need to love our bodies and we need to love ourselves and everyone else. We are told that we need to raise awareness for mental health and suicide to prevent it.
No where in the mainstream media, schools, or work environments are we being told HOW to be mentally strong. No one is talking about any solution other than not hurting other people’s feelings. (Which is completely unrealistic) The internet gives you access to people of all different cultures and backgrounds, which equals different values, and your thoughts reach them in the matter of seconds and its impossible to share your beliefs and have them not be conflicting with at least one person on the internet. But that is a rant of its own.
So think about it. If someone asked you, “How can I increase my mental stability, strength, and resiliency?” How would you respond? What advice do you have?
I know from my personal journey to find mental strength, that no one has this answer. Not doctors, not therapists, not counselors, not your parents, teachers, or even Google. (Yes that’s right, even Google doesn’t know) This is a serious problem in a society where our minds never have a chance to process or shut off due to the constant inward flow of images, words, sounds, videos from a number of sources. Our mind is a muscle. Its gets tired just like your biceps, quads, or abs would during a workout. And when we flood it with information constantly from a young age, but never learn how to process this information in a healthy way, it gets overwhelmed. It gets tired. And then it doesn’t function at its greatest potential.
It is not a matter of weakness to have symptoms of this exhaustion. It is human nature.
I consider myself an extremely mentally strong individual, and even my brain gets tired sometimes.
After coming to college, I realized that I was trying to cover up this mental exhaustion in unhealthy ways. I was trying to distract it more so I didn’t have to think about it. I was using exercise, work, clubs and classes to not allow myself time to realize how overwhelmed my mind was.
And then I found a club that taught me meditation.
This is not a sales pitch, in fact if you think that please stop reading now. I only wish to bring awareness to the lack of information on mental strength and offer insight into some ways that have helped me overcome the symptoms of an overworked brain.
I casually mentioned to my advisor (who is an amazing woman!), that school was becoming overwhelming and I was questioning my major and my path to a degree. She told me that she advises a club that teaches methods to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression through meditation and yoga. Being someone who loves fitness, I’ve attended a few yoga classes and really enjoyed them. So I decided to go on a yoga and meditation retreat because I figured it couldn’t hurt anything at this point.
(For a little background, which I don’t share with a lot of people, I’ve seen doctors, counselors, nutritionists, etc. for issues with lack of energy, anger, stress, anxiety and other symptoms that I couldn’t fix on my own. No one was really able to offer insight into the cause of my symptoms or show me how to solve them)
So fast forward, I attended a 3 day yoga, meditation retreat here at school. And I won’t lie, the first day I was like, “What the heck did I get myself into?” But as it continued, I felt like all the walls I had built up to hold in my stresses, frustration, anger, and other emotions I didn’t know how to process, just fell away. I felt happy. A perfectly calm, genuine happy that felt completely natural. I felt like I was in control of myself again. I felt like I could handle anything thrown at me, instead of worrying that one more stressful event was going to throw me over the edge.
After the first retreat, I continued meditating on my own regularly. I found it gave me energy throughout the day and helped combat my crazy/stressful life. And for the first time in what seemed like forever, I felt like myself. I felt like I could be happy just being me. And that’s the reason I continue my meditation practice. I was feeling like my circumstances were defining me. They were dictating my emotions and reactions. But now, I dictate my own happiness. I dictate my own reactions. And I feel like I can be happy no matter what crazy turns life throws at me.
The message I was intending to get across with this post was that the focus on mental health needs to change. It needs to change from simple awareness to solutions. How can we all be more mentally healthy? How can we all increase our mental strength?
My advice is to make mental health a priority. Living until your 95 is pretty pointless if you’re miserable the whole time now isn’t it? So learn to enjoy life now. Figure out how each day you can take 5-10 minutes to let your mind reset and process the days events and emotions.
Meditation for me has been the answer. It has honestly completely changed me and my outlook on life. I finally feel like this is the completely natural me who is stronger and more determined than ever to accomplish my goals.
If anyone is interested in my meditation journey, who taught me, how you can learn, I would LOVE to tell you more. Feel free to message me, email me, or DM me on twitter.