The mental health conversations are fair and necessary. In 2022 there is no doubt about it and this topic is being talked about more and more naturally, transcending the debate also to the political sphere. But taking care of mental health at the same level as physical health is a need that we still have to continue assimilating, internalizing, and naturalizing today. As a journalist who has been writing about it for several years – it is one of the topics that give me the most comfort to talk about – I have tried, although I have not always succeeded, to put into practice several of those wonderful recommendations that the experts have given me in all and every single interview I’ve done about psychology and mental health. There are many, and it is difficult to reduce them to a few lines, but I have tried to do the exercise of summarizing all those that have been recorded in my mind and that in some way are helping me to make my life easier .
#1. Self-care is not being selfish
Why taking care of yourself should be a priority in our lives was one of the first articles I wrote on mental health and, without a doubt, one of the headlines that I have tried to repeat to myself the most when I have felt bad for spending time to my physical and mental care. And I usually do it remembering the explanation that the psychologist Sara Noheda: “I can help as long as I feel. If I’m not well, I have nothing to give. It all starts with me. It is not a selfish approach but a realistic one”, she said. In addition, thinking that taking care of ourselves is not a priority often triggers another negative thought: believing that others have to do it for us and entering into negative complaining inertia that does not benefit us.
#2. Worry about everything is not more responsible
Until recently I thought that wasting my energy on hypotheses that could happen in certain situations was necessary. Worrying before things happened was a way to stay ahead and be prepared if something bad happened. But when I fall into that dangerous overthinking, I think of this phrase from psychologist Ana Gutiérrez Laso: “ Worrying does not mean doing the right thing. As the Happy Change expert points out, “‘pre-occupation defines the internal state before effectively ‘dealing’ with something, and it is not about losing energy in the previous ones, but about getting down to work as soon as possible. Worrying does not mean that you are doing the right thing to face a situation and, when the worry is excessive, it leads to blocking instead of an effective response”.
#3. Positivity can work
It’s been a while since I wanted to stay in the conformist mentality of believing that positivity is a state of mind that is inexcusably linked with personality and with which one is born or not born. It is an easy argument that several experts have dismantled in many interviews. “ You can learn to be positive, but you have to make an effort and be constant to achieve it. Change is costly because our minds are used to thinking and looking in a certain way that is different from what we want,” Blanca Tejero Claver, a researcher with the UNIR cyberpsychology group, told me. Taking into account that by being positive I will be able to find better solutions, it is worth making that effort.
#4. I can not get to everything
Empowerment messages that make us believe that we can achieve absolutely anything can generate that toxic positive call that creates negative effects for us when we don’t get what we want. But the reality is that failure is part of life, that as the psychologist José Elías once told me “failures are steps to success” and that you cannot achieve everything. “There is always something to do, our lives are becoming more complex, and learning to detect what should not happen today and what can be dosed during the week helps a lot”, explains Ibana Hijosa Sola.
#5. Self-esteem is a team effort
Some time ago I heard the actress Cayetana Guillén Cuervo speak of the need to create “a female web of solidarity between women”, something that I consider even more necessary after knowing that there are several studies that show that girls already have less self-confidence since childhood. It was found in 2017 in the journal Science that six-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are ‘smart’ and ‘bright’, so I like to practice positive reinforcement with people who They surround me, tell them the positive aspects that stand out from them and talk to them with affection. It makes me feel good and that also helps my mental health (and that of others).
#6. Try to talk to me like my best friend
“When a woman becomes your best friend, life is easier. ” This phrase is from the great Diane Von Furstenberg and contains a great truth that we should always try to put into practice. How many times do we talk to ourselves in a demanding and harsh way that we would never use with anyone else? I won’t say it was easy –I’m still excessively hard on myself when I make mistakes–, but I try to remember this phrase and the explanation that psychologist Jesús Matos gave me: “Learning to modify the way we treat ourselves has the to change our state of mind.
#7. Talk about mental health in public
In recent years, many public figures have spoken about their state of mind, normalizing a conversation that for a long time was considered almost taboo. Talking about mental health in front of others as we talk about other aspects of our health is very beneficial. As psychologist Ana Gómez de Escauriza explained, “sharing our feelings and emotions will help us manage and regulate them better.”
#8.Think less to have more energy
In the era of overthinking and uncertainty, it has helped me a lot to try to carry out processes of mental hygiene and psychological minimalism to make my life a little easier. It is not easy to stop those circulating thoughts that lead you to a dangerous loop, but when I see them appear I try to think of this recommendation by Pilar Guerra. “It is impossible to be happy when we become mind readers. The energy expenditure is extreme: there is no worse exercise than doing the 100-meter dash by going around the first square meter, ”she affirms emphatically.