Episode 5 - Show Notes - The Mental Health of Bloggers | Mental Health Awareness Month

One thing not enough people talk about is the mental health of bloggers. In this episode, I'm discussing it along with what I do to cope.




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The Mental Health of Bloggers


Today, I want to talk about the mental health of bloggers, and the importance of staying mentally and emotionally healthy. I want to cover a few things related to this topic because it’s so very important to me.

Interestingly enough, my own mental health is why there was a gap in my podcasting release schedule. Even though I’m new to the game, I had planned to release a new episode every week for 10 full weeks, at least in this first season of my show.

But, last week, I just could not bring myself to record.

Due to some personal issues, I simply made the tough decision to not even try and record. I now understand why so many podcasters tell people that if they're going to start their own podcast they need to record several episodes ahead of time.

This way if they wake up one day and don't feel like recording or they can’t record for some reason, they still have something to release on their scheduled day. Even though I did a lot of research and I had read that little nugget of wisdom from many experts that I admire, I was naive in believing that I could commit and just record once a week anyway.

How hard can it be to record and release a single episode I thought?

Well, when you’re dealing with anxiety and situations beyond your control, and there’s a pandemic going on, yeah….it can be really hard to record and release weekly.

Needless to say, I will be doing things differently by the time season two rolls around. But I digress. Let's get back to the subject at hand, shall we?

The month of May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month. According to Wikipedia, “Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health)...Its purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about: mental illnesses, such as the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses. Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the stigma (negative attitudes and misconceptions) that surrounds mental illnesses. ”

My father committed suicide in December 2016 - just two days after Christmas. I don’t tell you this because I want pity, I tell you this so you can understand taking care of our mental health is so important to me.

My dad struggled with mental health problems all of his life, and many of the issues that plagued him, I see in myself. Witnessing his struggles lead me to leaving home as early as I could, and committing to trying to be as positive as possible for the rest of my life, despite everything he displayed.

In the days after his passing, I doubled down on that commitment to try and be more positive, and always look for the light in life. I know how easy it can be to sink into darkness, and fall down the rabbit hole of negativity…

And, I gotta tell you… being a stay at home blogger - it can be damn lonely. In fact, that loneliness, and solitude from the outside world can trigger many of my mental health woes.

Several of my bloggy friends have told me they struggle with mental health issues too. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard it said that creative people fight the most with inner demons. Depression, anxiety, feelings of low self-worth, lack of confidence - the list goes on.

Maybe you can relate.

So what can we do about it? While I’m certainly not a mental health professional and I would never claim to be, I can tell you things I’m doing to try and improve my own mental state.

What I Do When I’m Lonely

I go out and find friends. Okay, so it’s not as easy as going to the store to buy eggs, but when you put in some effort, you can find likeminded people to chat with.

The first place I look is Facebook.

There are literally thousands of Facebook groups for virtually any hobby or interest you can think of.

I love to craft so I joined a bunch of crafting groups.

I love blogging, so I’m in several blogging groups.

I love cooking so, okay...you get the idea.

What I have found in these groups, is that there are several people in them who just want someone to talk to as well.

Another place I look for bloggy friends is networking events and conferences.

I’ll be the first admit, this was easier before coronavirus. But I like to think we’ll get back to having live events soon.

I have met some of my favorite people in the whole world at live events.

The trick with these is to have some questions prepared ahead of time so you can engage with people.

And, don’t try to show off. I’ve learned the hard way that asking more about them than talking about yourself is the best way to go about meeting new people.

Finally, I look in my own backyard.

During the stay at home orders, I found solace in our neighborhood’s dog park.

I found a few women with adorable little dogs and I started looking forward to bring my mutts down to play with them every day.

It gets me away from home, and into nature. And, the conversations that ensue are enjoyable.

In a pinch, if I’m feeling really lonely, and can’t go out, I’ll call family members or friends on the phone just to chat about everything and nothing.



This image was on the top of the Google search results page for “Mental Health Awareness Month” and they had a statement that said Public Service Announcement.



What I Do When I’m Feeling Anxious

I have really bad anxiety sometimes. To the point where if left unchecked, I’ll have a full-blown panic attack and be pretty much useless for several hours if not the entire day.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with two things to help me through it.

The first is guided meditations. I love them. My favorite app for finding amazing guided meditations is Insight Timer, but I’ve also found some pretty good ones on YouTube.

The reason I used guided meditations in lieu of just trying to meditate on my own is that I have trouble with my mind wandering, and the guided meditations make it easier for me to focus on relaxing and let the world go.

When I can’t access a guided meditation for whatever reason, I’ll sit silently and just repeat the word release over and over again to myself. It may sound silly, but it was a trick I picked up I think from Brendon Burchard years ago, and in a pinch, it’s really helpful to me.

The other thing I do frequently is what I call my word vomit sessions. I open a Google Document in Chrome and I will turn on the voice typing feature and I literally just start talking about everything going on in my head.

I don’t set a timer, though some of my bloggy friends have recommended that. But, I just sit there and talk out everything I’m thinking at the moment. I don’t censor myself, and I don’t try to have any rhyme or reason. I literally just word vomit all over the document.

Within a few sentences, I already start feeling better in most cases. Other times, I’ll have to sit there for a while and just keep word vomiting until everything is released from my brain. Occasionally, I’ll re-read what I’ve written because good ideas for my business or blog posts I have to write will end up on the page. However, more often than not I will instead release it all, and then not read it again.

I keep this word vomit document on my computer and I’ve dated each entry. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll go back and read it all and it will make for good material for my memoirs. Then again, it might sound like the ramblings of a person who doesn’t have all their crayons in the box. I’m not sure.

Other Things I Do When I’m Feeling Anxious

Meditation and word vomiting are my favorite things to do when I’m feeling anxious, but other things I do to calm myself down include, but aren’t limited to:

-- Going on long walks - I call it pounding pavement. When I’m incredibly anxious and can’t stop fidgeting, sometimes I’ll throw my sneakers on and walk until it hurts. I sometimes won’t even bring my dogs. I’ll just walk and try to focus only on the scenery around me and let go of everything else. I make a point to look at everything I see and really think about it so that whatever is making me anxious is not the focus.

-- Taking a long shower - I’m talking the kind where you just stand in the water and don’t even actually soap up. Have you ever done that? There is something about the hot water just flowing that soothes me. I would take more baths, but our bathtub is small and because of that, it doesn’t give me the feel I want from a bath.
-- Cooking - I love to cook. But I hate doing it unless the kitchen is spotless, and my husband agrees to clean up after. When I’m feeling anxious I’ve been known to make incredibly elaborate meals just to have something to keep my mind busy, and off of whatever is making me anxious.

-- Do a craft - I love working with my hands and creating something from nothing. Lately, I’ve been pretty obsessed with some Dollar Tree craft groups I found on Facebook. The members come up with some of the most creative crafts I’ve ever seen and they mainly use products from the dollar store to make them.

Facebook Groups for Dollar Store Crafts:

-- DIY Dollar Tree Crafts

-- Dollar Tree DIY Projects

-- Dollar Tree Projects & Money Saving Ideas


-- Take naps - I know - this one isn’t possible for everyone, but when I’m so anxious that nothing else helps, I go take a nap. I’ve recently found a great trick for falling asleep quickly. Here's the video that explains the trick:



What I Do When I’m Feeling Sad

One of the first things I do when I’m feeling sad is pray. Whatever you believe in doesn’t matter, but for me, praying helps me a lot. I often will begin by saying something like, “Spirits show me another way.” Or “Spirits help me transform this sadness into love.”

Often times when I’m feeling sad there is a feeling of being unloved under the surface. When this happens, I just pray to feel the love that I know deep down is in my life. I remind myself of my husband who loves me, my family and friends, my dogs, and so on and so on.

Other times, I just have to love myself and tell myself it’s safe for me to feel loved. It’s safe for me to be happy.

One thing that helps me when the sadness is just unwavering is to search for comedy videos, memes, photos, and even clips on TikTok. I keep a file on my computer called my smile file. It’s filled with silly images that make me laugh. And, when I’m in a rut, I’ve been known to open it up and go through the images and laugh until I cry.

Speaking of crying. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sad I will give myself permission to just be sad and cry it all out. I’ll go into my bedroom with a box of tissues and simply cry until I have no more tears left to give. It is often cathartic. But, while doing it, I do my best to not let my mind wander to more things to be sad about because then it becomes that much harder to come back from a downward spiral.

Many of the things I do when I’m anxious I’ll also do when I’m sad.

Another thing that helps me a lot is called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. It’s also commonly referred to as tapping. I’m so not good at explaining how EFT works, but you can learn more about it here. For now, the Reader’s Digest version of tapping is that you tap on pressure points to relieve stress, anxiety, sadness, etc…

I first learned about EFT from Denise Duffield-Thomas and she is incredible about transforming one’s thoughts about money. I’m sure she’ll come up on this show again soon because her trainings around money have really helped me to not be so afraid of making a living doing what I love.

One of the best resources I’ve found for tapping videos is Brad Yates on YouTube. Brad has videos on tapping through everything from anxiety to debt to unemployment to mending a broken heart. I highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel.

What Does Mental Health Have to do With Blogging?

Now, you might be wondering, what does mental health have to do with blogging? Well, if you’re like me, when you aren’t in a good headspace, you can’t be creative. Work becomes difficult. And everything just feels like you’re trying to run through mud.

Like any job, it’s hard to be a productive blogger when your mental health is suffering. Though buzzwords like self-care only became the popular thing to discuss in what feels like just the last five years or so, it really is important to take care of ourselves.

One of my favorite sayings in the whole world is “You can’t give from an empty cup.” Though I often fight it, I’ve been trying to remember and commit to this sentiment over the last several years because it’s so true.

If we are supposed to put our oxygen masks on first in a dangerous situation, it stands to reason that we must fill up our own cups first if we hope to have anything to give to others. It’s taken me a long time to realize that minding my mental health is not selfish. It’s about making sure there is enough of me to give to myself and others. It’s about making sure I’ll be here when people need me.

Other Things I Recommend for Help with Mental Health

To wrap up this episode, I want to share a few more things I recommend to help you with your own mental health journey. Some of these are things I can honestly tell you I still struggle with, but hey, I’m a work in progress.

First, get enough sleep. As adults, we should be aiming for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. I will tell you that this has been a serious struggle for me in recent months. I’ve actually been sleeping in a broken pattern where I’ll pass out for a few hours, work, and then pass out again. I’m working on this one y’all.

Second, be mindful of what you put in your body. I’m horrible at this one, but what we eat has been proven to have a direct effect on our minds and hearts. We need to be eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to perform at our best.

Third, and this is a huge one for me is to seek counseling. I hate that the idea of therapy is still so taboo. I am proud to share that I’ve consulted with and sought help from multiple counselors or therapists. We don’t make a big deal out of going to get a physical with our primary care physicians, and we shouldn’t make a big deal out of seeing a therapist or counselor either.

I can honestly tell you, without a doubt, I would be in a much darker place today had it not been for some of the amazing mental health professionals I’ve spoken with over the years. And, there are resources for you if you can’t afford one.

When my dad passed of suicide, I couldn’t work for several months which meant that my income didn’t exist during that time. Here where I live, a nonprofit provided me with free counseling to get me back on my feet. They even helped me handle the financial blows that I dealt with as a result of being out of work.

If you take nothing else from this episode, please take care of your mental health and seek help and guidance when you need it. And don’t be ashamed if you need more help than others. I’d rather everyone go to a therapist and get help with their mental health problems than read another family member, friend, or acquaintance has taken their own life because they couldn’t cope.

It may sound cliche, but the world really does need you. You are loved. I love you. And, I want to see you succeed and thrive.

Conclusion

I hope this episode was helpful. It was meant to be inspiring and break away from the stigma that so many people feel about discussing mental health. I’ll be the first to tell you that I know I struggle with mental health issues and I’ll never shy away from seeking help for those issues.

We all deserve to be here, and we all have a mission and a purpose. But to fulfill that, we have to take care of ourselves first. Alright, that’s all I have for now my bloggy friends.

Until next time, may your page views be high, and your bounce rate be low.

Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll catch you guys next time.


Additional resources for mental health:

--- How to recognize symptoms of entrepreneur burnout and what to do

--- Lonely blogger? Find friends in the blogosphere.

--- Blogger burnout? Try these tips to reignite your passion.

--- National Alliance on Mental Illness

--- National Alliance on Mental Illness Video Resource Library

--- CDC - Mental Health and Coping During Covid-19

--- Mental Health America organization







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