When I think about self-care nowadays, I always picture a blonde yoga teacher who swears that the spiritual practice is the only pathway to true happiness. Well, I have been practicing yoga, meditation, and other self-help type thangs for most of my adult life, and I can definitely say that they induce feelings of joy and calm unlike no other. Whenever I feel purposeless and constantly uneasy, it’s nice to know that a little quiet time devoted to being present will shake off some of those nerves; and I emphasize “some” for a reason…
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve experienced depressive moods and bursts of anxiety that I just wrote off for being an awkward kid. You can imagine how hard being a teen was: always hating myself for feeling out of place (mostly because of my skin color and hair texture) while silently worrying that bad things will happen to me. Now that I’m an adult I have no choice but to acknowledge my mental health concerns, especially since I have personal goals that require my full attention.
When I first started doing yoga at 15, it was more for the exercise than the spiritual aspect; but once I practiced yoga as a whole after I went vegan, it felt like a new world had opened up to me. I followed the lifestyle to the best of my ability and even then did something feel off. I’d get so pissed at myself for slipping up and not being conscious with my actions, having weak core strength, or having my mind wander too much during meditation, and I wasn’t focusing on why I felt like I had to be hard on myself all of the time.
Never will I blame yoga or other similar activities, but they are not the cure for ailing mental health. They are great for relaxation and developing positive self-talk but it is not helpful to believe that meditation will automatically resolve severe anxiety just because it sounds cute. Not everyone is able to sit still or complete a yoga pose or even have their mind stop racing, so most typical self-care practices we see today totally leave those folks out. Why are those with mental health issues often left out of the conversation?
I wish to highlight that breathing exercises, regular movement, and positive self-talk/image are all very important ingredients to a better mood, but there are people who truly don’t have control over how they think or feel and should be included in the discussion about self-care. People should be encouraged to do what’s right for them rather than follow a super specific template of finding happiness.
I’ll always have my yoga and meditation routine down, but you can bet your ass I’ll never deny my deeper issues ever again. Sure, my fluctuating depression and anxiety might not go away but it’s the price I pay for experiencing life and I wouldn’t change myself for the world.
For those who are seriously struggling with their mental health, I encourage you to talk to a professional if possible or maybe even visit http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/self-care if it works for you.