In Their Own Words: Making mental health a priority
This article is part of a series exploring what it means to maintain positive mental health, in a world that seems to be constantly moving, unpredictable, and oftentimes stressful. Here are the words from everyday meldCX team members who are living it.
At the start of the pandemic, Niño Rey Jandayan was in a tough place. He was unhappy in his previous job and would have sleepless nights — unable to rest his mind from its constant chatter. It didn’t help at all that news on COVID-19 was starting to flood and lockdowns were imminent.
As the situation in the world got darker, so did Niño’s state of mind. He slowly realized that he was in depression, losing interest in the things he used to enjoy and constantly lying awake in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep.
It was exhausting.
Over this period of time, Niño learnt he had to teach himself mental resilience — facing what he could head-on, whilst learning to accept external factors that he has no control over.
How do you exercise good mental health practices in your daily life?
A lot of reading and understanding the value of mental health has led me to try different things.
Physical and mental health go hand in hand, and a good combination of exercise, sleeping habits and meditation has been quite helpful in managing daily stress.
Discovering these has also led me to realize more things about myself, how I react to situations and the levels of mental stress that I experience over time. This has also led me to identify incidences of mental stress that I did not know I was having. I learned to identify anxiety attacks, depression, and how to work with them.
“When you start to doubt yourself and worry about a lot of things, stop. Breathe in. You might be overthinking it. We all want you to succeed. Take it one step at a time, tap if you need help, and you’ll get there.”
Within many communities, mental health stigma is still high. Therefore it becomes eye-opening when you realize that everyone experiences some form of mental stress in one way or another, and that you can learn ways to manage it better.
Could you share some key learnings that you’ve picked up from your own mental health journey?
Understanding Mental Health.
Learning about my mental state early on is still helping me to this day. Understanding mental health continues to be part of my everyday journey. In a time of uncertainty, everyone in the world is at a certain level of mental exhaustion. It has helped me to cope, be at ease and be okay with what I am feeling since the start of the pandemic. It also taught me how to support my family and friends.
It taught me what to avoid.
We all know how toxic social media can be if left unchecked. I strive day to day to limit online interactions, prioritizing family and close friends, shifting to a scheduled and curated news reading period, and spending more time on better things.
In that connection, I tweak my phone and PC’s notifications. These quiet little attention vampires can sometimes aggravate anxiety. Surface what matters, hide what does not. Modern phone OSes help you do just that. In iOS 15, make use of the new Focus features. It helps you hide distractions at certain points of the day, including notifications and even app access. Summaries further hide them down, letting you catch up with your notifications at your own time, or ignore them altogether.
It taught me what to invest more time on.
The start of the pandemic was a difficult time. Those were the days leading to the end of my previous job. At night, I’d wake up at random times struggling to get back to sleep, and in the daytime, I was losing interest in doing stuff I used to enjoy.
I slowly realized I was in depression, and it took a few weeks until I slowly recovered. On those days, it was family that helped me make it through, assuring me that things will be just fine. I also found comfort in catching up with friends. One at a time I started doing new things. Gradually I continued to recover as I started to spend more time catching up on hobbies and skills that I wanted to go back to. Achieving these little feats gave me the right amount of satisfaction to move on.
The best breakthrough was when I joined meldCX. It’s always refreshing to be in a group of like-minded people who strive to work together and be better together. Yep, the work is crazy — we’re building the future! But when you are surrounded by people who genuinely have your back on your best and your worst days, it clears away the worry, letting me focus more on doing what I do best. I’m blessed to be here.
For those who are going through some tough times, what are some resources you’ve found helpful?
Get Sleepy podcast by the Slumber Studios has helped me with plenty of tough nights.
There are tons of Sleep Stories and Guided Sleep Meditation videos on Youtube as well.
There’s a video called Sleep Hypnosis for Calming an Overactive Mind – this is my go-to for those extra tough nights.
The Sleep Cycle app is a great companion to this to help you monitor if you are indeed getting the right amount of sleep. What I love most about this is the gentle wakeup feature, which uses your phone’s mic and accelerometer to slowly wake you up instead of a harsh alarm.
I’ve used Headspace – a guided meditation app for daily meditation and mindfulness.
There are also tons of guided meditation videos on Youtube.
Good Daily Reading.
r/GetMotivated – This Reddit thread offers great photos and inspirations daily. There are misses, yes, but I regularly browse there for a good boost.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns is a good book to understand the different mental states, learn what your feelings are telling you, adapt, and feel better.
A good show that’s not mental health-specific but has helped me a lot in recovering is The Good Place. It’s a lighthearted comedy laced with moral psychology.
A good musical/movie that touches on mental health, depression and anxiety is Dear Evan Hansen.
And lastly, a piece of good advice that I’ve started following: keep a “Boost” photo album or folder somewhere on your phone or computer. Then fill it with encounters, communications, chats, messages, posts, or any digital mementos that remind you of the people that care for you, believe in you, and support you. When you’re having a sad day, browse through them.
Of course, pay it forward. Find ways to be in someone else’s Boost album 😊
Lastly, what are some things you’d like to do more of — to protect your mental wellbeing?
When the pandemic eases/cases subside, I’d finally like to set an appointment with a therapist. I think it’s a great step forward for everyone to do.
I have also seen an ad from Westpac where mental health coaches take their participants to surf. I think that’s amazing. We don’t have surfing here, but if we have similar programs pop up, I’d be signing up.
Connect with Niño on LinkedIn.