Outside their homestead, three girls Aurelia, Alisa and Amber sang their favourite skipping rope rhyme, “babligan babligan number 28 I went for a walk but know I stop underbreak,” their best shot at the song “Public van, public van number 28. I went for a ride but now I stepped on the break.” The children of Amulaza village executed songs to the nearest mother tongue, or whatever they heard in their heads, and they were okay with that, since most adults too, knew no better. Alisa was the one jumping, but her singing was swallowed by the sound of the engines of an aircraft defying gravity above, so she ‘stopped underbreak’ and they all stared up and waved, and inside her, a dream was born, to one day fly to a distant, faraway place and experience the bliss that exists on the other side. And that day came, and with it a CHALLENGE to ADAPT to a new culture, different way of doing things, the fast paced 21st century, work-related stress, and once in a while feelings of isolation and discrimination, thousands of miles away from Amulaza, and the very people dear to her, that her heart aches to hug, hold and feel… (…to be continued)
The ability to discover and live up to your full potential, cope with stressful life events, work productively even under pressure, and positively contribute to the community is a hard wired aspiration in every soul. However, once in a while, life throws us curveballs that destabilise our thinking and emotion regulation abilities in ways that may lead to maladaptive mannerisms, and our century seems to be full of such curveballs. Unchecked emotional states may rob us the ability to enjoy a good sunny day, rob us the fun found in little things like we did as little children (I personally hunted grasshoppers), deny us the capacity to connect deeply and genuinely with others, and the results may manifest as poor workplace performance, vulnerable to a myrad of mental health challenges such as work-related stress, burnout and/or depression. There is therefore the need for conversations and deliberate action plans towards mental health, for indeed, there is no health without mental health.
Here is a good place to begin taking care of your headspace
Find a rhythm that fits for you, cultivating a good work-life balance: Leave work at work, leave home at home, but carry your authentic self with you everywhere you go!
Eat well, sleep well: It is the accumulated effects of bad eating habits and poor sleeping patterns that should worry you. So don’t let them accumulate. Eat healthy and get enough sleep TODAY!
MOVE: There exists an inherent interconnection between the movement and mind health. Bodily exercise goes beyond great looks, to keeping you in great mental shape, acting as a mood and esteem booster, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving cognitive functioning. According to Dr. Cobb (2018), bodily movements activate and replenish GABA, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the body’s response to stress.
Find a passion and pursue it: Learn, improve, and find time within your other schedules to do something you truly love, and in a way that you contribute some good to the world.
Find and belong to a community of genuine like-minded people, who accept each other with utmost positive regard. People who wear no masks (not the Covid-19 ones), and tell the truth salted with a generous pinch of grace and love
Say NO: ‘No’ is a complete sentence. When you feel that lines are being crossed, even by yourself, say NO. And stick with it, and while at it, ensure that you are ASSERTIVE BUT NOT AGGRESSIVE. If you are in a position to, delegate some of your work. You are not atlas, neither should you imagine you carry the whole world on your shoulders. Plan your time, say no to events that get in the way of priority events.
Know-L-EDGE: The man or woman who seems to handle themselves calmly, even in the storm KNOW something that rest don’t. We live in the knowledge economy, where no one is buying ignorance anymore! Listen to a podcast, look at your shoe rack, and notice that if you have more books than shoes, your shoes will not take you anywhere! READ READ READ, knowing gives you an edge, – KNOWLEDGE!
Live consciously: Mindfulness, the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are, how you are feeling, and what you are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us, is a critical skill.
Celebrate yourself: Dear Alisa, you have come so far. Your dreams in Amulaza are now a reality. Your reality now is a dream to so many other Amulaza girls. Yes, they don’t know the challenges you face, but you are somewhere. CELEBRATE THAT. Don’t be caught up in the guilty of the past and worry of the future matrix, missing the magical present!
Seek help: We all at some point need a shoulder to lean on. Don’t let the stigma around mental health stop you from seeking help. Don’t forget prevention is always better than cure. You can seek psychological support even before you start showing signs of mental health problems.