I was an 18-year-old kid in 1986, going into my senior year of high school, when Janet Jackson released her song “What Have You Done for Me Lately.” It was a song about a man doing nice things for his girl back in the day but then things had changed and she asked the question, “What have you done for me lately?” I liked the song back then especially the beat, but today I have the mentality that says “What have I done for myself lately?” Why? Because now I fully understand the importance of self-care in a crazy, demanding world that really only takes from you, so you have to make yourself a priority too.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a selfish person that only thinks about what I need. I am constantly doing things for others and usually putting myself last of the list. Why? Again, because I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother, a friend, a coworker and more, and when you add all those titles and duties on your plate, you seem to lose yourself. Yes, life can get a little overwhelming at times. In fact, it can get downright stressful. This is why you have to take time to care for yourself just as much as you are constantly caring for others. I promise, if you don’t take time for yourself and honestly practice self-care, you won’t be able to be your best for others and that will lead to self-imploding.
It’s no wonder that more than 50 million Americans struggle with mental health issues today. Somewhere along the line they lost themselves.
Most of us don’t get enough sleep, eat healthy or exercise regularly, nor do we stay connected with friends or focus on positivity. Instead we live in a very negative world that demands deadlines and takes more than we give them.
So, do I believe that everyone has mental issues that they must address regularly to stay sane? You better believe it! I think society now pushes people (especially children) off the deep end with many of the issues we struggle with on a daily basis. This is why self-care is not a cure but it is a tool to help you cope with what causes you to struggle. You must know what triggers you.
I think we need to share our hurts and concerns with others so we don’t feel isolated when we are struggling to cope. I think we need to teach our children how to cope too. Have we ever considered that we have allowed too much influence from others to affect our children? Have we ever questioned some of the things that they have been taught in schools and colleges? I know I have questioned some teachings and beliefs.
Though I loved helping my students years ago when I taught, I hope when they had problems, I didn’t try to fix them but find a way to cope with them. How would they learn if I always stepped in? I think our children need to learn coping skills, but the coping skills should really be about tossing out what doesn’t apply to them. What works for one may or may not work for another. Self-care looks different for everyone. So, you have to learn what works best for you.
I know mental health can affect any age or background. However, I believe today we are targeting a new breed of “mental health” individuals that can’t cope because they believe life is so much harder than when we grew up. But is life harder than during the Great Depression? How about during the 60’s with the movement of civil rights? How about 70’s, 80’s, even COVID in 2020? I don’t think that it’s harder today. I think every decade brings its challenges. Each is just slightly different, but I think the way people are coping with issues has changed for the worse.
In some areas I question whether or not telling a child or an adult that they have certain disorders really benefits them. I also question why we would let children label themselves by choosing their own “pronouns or gender” at a young age. If a teen’s brain isn’t developed until 25 why are we letting them decide on what they want to be for the rest of their lives? Why can’t they grow up first and then decide who or what they want to be. Heck, while I was growing up from kindergarten to high school, I went from wanting to be a veterinarian, to a missionary, and then to a nurse, but none of those dreams became a reality. I actually became a waitress, then a teacher, then a hospice worker and finally a journalist. My point is we are always changing because life and circumstances are changing around us. However, we have to do a better job at taking care of ourselves in such a crazy world or we will lose our way and be good for nothing.