The time used to invest in yourself reflects on the quality of relationships you engage in.
In this episode, Carolyn Yates shares her expertise and advice for people struggling with their mental health. Our mental health condition is often affected by a lot of factors; the people around us, social media, and personal pressures but the best way to deal with this is to prioritize self-care.
WHAT DID YOUNG CAROLYN WANT TO BE WHEN SHE GREW UP?
Carolyn wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. But as a young kid, she’s always been fascinated with how people think and behave. She explored a few different routes, but eventually, she became a psychology major in college.
Through this, her interest in the human personality further developed. Then she finished her grad school and became a therapist.
Although her journey started out with not being sure about what to be when she becomes older, there was a specific interest she kept in her heart that lead her to who she is today.
Carolyn’s advice for people who are afraid of making a pivot in their lives, “be open-minded to different ideas.” When she graduated in 2008, she entered the workforce but unfortunately, the economy collapsed.
Our situations may seem like adversity initially, but they can become a blessing in the end. Because of the economic crisis, she decided to go back to school and explored new ways of life.
“Be open-minded to different ideas.” #chasingdreams
"Things that feel like adversity in your path may ultimately be blessings in the long term."
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Most of us are raised to believe that we always have to put the needs of others first. This notion is deeply embedded in our culture that we think that by putting ourselves first, we are committing a crime.
This thinking made some of us resentful toward life. There’s lingering guilt of not being able to do what we’ve always wanted to because we put others first. When Carolyn was asked if it’s possible for us to take care of ourselves first, she answered, “it’s about giving yourself the permission to take care of yourself.”
She adds, “to have a bit of time for yourself means you can show up in better ways.” There may be a lot of guilt involved in doing this, but this is actually not a bad thing.
Some people may label this as being selfish but Carolyn reframes this. She makes people understand that spending time on yourself is always a worthy investment.
When you prioritize yourself, you also get to evaluate how you are towards others and how you treat yourself. It allows you to be more patient and present.
"Take time for yourself." #chasingdreams
“To have a little bit of time for yourself means you can show up in better ways.”
WAYS TO PERFORM SELF-CARE
Your self-care methods don’t have to be grand and expensive. When people think of self-care, they equate it with going on splendid vacations, spas, or shopping. These can be forms of self-care, but they can also be meditating, going for a walk, enjoying nature, journaling, exercising, or nourishing your body with a healthy meal.
Self-care can be the simple things you do that give you joy, help you calm down, and re-center. It doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s not always a one-size-fits-all, so you have to explore what self-care methods work for you.
As you engage in self-care, you see the world from a different perspective. You become more in tune with your thoughts, and emotions and begin to understand what it is that you need. You learn that you can be capable of achieving things if you nurture yourself first.
"Take some time to go outside, there's something about it that's calming and soothing." #chasingdreams
“Self-care is a way to manage stress.”
WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
The last two years of the pandemic greatly affected our mental health. People had to do different things to adjust and now that the world is slowly opening up, there are still some adjustments to be made.
We experienced a collective trauma and there was an increase in the number of people experiencing anxiety. As Carolyn mentioned, “at some point, we need to prioritize our mental health over our physical health.”
The hardest part is probably the isolation. Although the work-from-home option has been great for a lot of families, the thought of going back to the office, and interacting with different people can make one anxious. Some people may have gotten so used to working on their own that going back to old set-ups may trigger unwanted emotions.
Think about the ways that encourage you to better care for your mental health, or you can seek professional help. Speaking with a therapist can really help process all your thoughts and emotions.
Also, you may need to evaluate if you have the “what is wrong with me?” mentality. We tend to look at other people that we compare the good parts of their lives to the entirety of ours and this impacts our mental health.
As Carolyn stated, “someone struggling with mental health doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you.” There is a brain component to it where the synapses are not firing properly in the brain.
She wants to assure people struggling with mental health that this is a condition that can be treated. “The more that we talk about mental health, it reduces the stigma.”
Therapy is like a sounding board for many people. It helps them reflect and be more intentional with how they make decisions. Furthermore, you align your behavior to how you really want to live.
"For people struggling with mental health, therapy and medication often really works." #chasingdreams
"The more we talk about mental health, it reduces the stigma." #chasingdreams
"At some point, you need to prioritize your mental health over your physical health."
"If you're struggling with mental health doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you."
"You become an outcast when you talk about mental health that shouldn't be what it is today, in this year of 2022."
HOW CAN WE HELP YOUNG PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH?
Studies show that depression and anxiety affected more children and adolescents globally. This also manifested in the increasing suicide rates among the youth. One of the reasons why this prevailed is that parents are not aware of their child’s symptoms, or they don’t know what to do.
Carolyn states that there are many reasons why young people struggle with their mental health and this can be a culmination of various factors. It can be social media, the pandemic, or the pressure from family.
The simplest way to help teenagers is by asking them how are they doing. However, this may not guarantee that they will disclose what they’re going through. It’s easier for them to tell their story if they know that the person is also experiencing the same struggles.
Since they’re too attached to their social media platforms, it’s important to make them understand that not everything they see on it is reality. They should know that social media is a curated presentation of someone’s life and often, only the best moments are shown.
Social media impacts all of us, and we have to be mindful that people are intentional with their posts. They don’t usually show the moments where they struggle. As Carolyn explained, “it creates a fragmented sense of self because it’s a curated image.”
There can be a disconnect between what you put out there to how you’re actually feeling inside. However, social media can also be a platform to be real and vulnerable. It doesn’t always have to be perfect and social media can be used to give awareness to what’s really happening in one’s life.
"It's easier for teenagers to disclose that they're struggling if they know someone else's story." #chasingdreams
"Taking care of mental health is really as simple as taking the time to ask, how are you doing?"
"People put their best moments on social media, they don't put the moments that they're struggling."
Guest Recommendation: ONE action for a dream chaser to take –
When chasing your dreams, Carolyn advises being honest with yourself and evaluating your stress levels. If there is a significant amount of stress, it’s best to formulate ways that will encourage self-care. Sometimes, the simplest things can make the biggest difference in how we live our lives and how we chase our dreams.
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As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Carolyn has a wide range of clinical experiences in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She uses a multi-modality approach to working with individuals, families, and couples, and treating mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, as well as behavioral and social difficulties.
Carolyn also works with clients who are going through life transitions, such as divorce and loss. In addition, she is a Certified EMDR therapist. Adolescence is another
area of expertise and she’s worked with many teens on mental health, identity issues, self-esteem, and improving communication with their parents.
Moreover, Carolyn also specializes in reproductive and perinatal mental health, supporting women before, during, and after pregnancy, and pregnancy loss.