“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.“
On behalf of this years mental health awareness week, I wanted to tell you something about my personal experiences and struggles during the last couple of years. The theme this year is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Mental Health is just as important as physical health and I have learned first-hand that improving your physical health can significantly improve your mental health – and vice versa.
Did you know that, accoring to a recent study conducted in the UK, one in five adults (20%) felt shame, just over one third (34%) felt down or low, and 19% felt disgusted because of their body image in the last year. Moreover, results show that just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image.
We all have that voice inside ourselves. The one that can sometimes sit on our shoulders feeling like a tone of bricks and can bounce up and down in our mind pounding into us one self critical thought after another. You don’t need to be diagnosed with a “mental disorder” for these thoughts to pop up in your head. We all have them, and who agrees it’s not fun in the slightest?
A breath of truth
Which I don’t know whether I should be telling you this, but I’m going to anyway. There is no one stopping me from speaking my truth any longer.
I’m hand on heart only here because of two reasons.
1. I want to help people. Help them to grow to heal and to create who they want to be.
And 2. I want to have a voice that is bigger than my own.
I’m only one single person, I’m a tiny body, a face with a smile and always a little sparkle in my green eyes. I have a heart that is beating – just like anybody else. Have a full-time job, a handful of very reliable close friends. I have a voice and I’m no better than anybody else on this planet. I have a name, a life, a routine – just like you. But if I were to stand in the streets yelling out a caption or a blog post like this one it would reach maybe 10 or 20 passerby’s, not more.
Fortunately, on this platform I am bigger than that, I can reach more people than I could ever possibly achieve without it.
When I began my recovery, I knew the feeling of finding freedom was just too good a feeling to keep for myself.
I wanted every sufferer to have that moment when they stop and think, “I thought recovery was real, I knew it existed, I knew it was possible, but I never thought that I would experience it”. But you CAN, if you chose to take the step out of your comfort zone.
I’ve never been one for talking about my feelings. Always preferring to either push them away or quietly sorting out myself in my own head without wanting to “be a burden” for anyone else. So I kept quite.
I didn’t talk to anyone about my struggles – even when they where visible to everyone.
I wish I had spoken though because I would have realised that I wasn’t on my own, that whilst my issues weren’t huge compared to a lot of things that people have to struggle with, it doesn’t mean they were irrelevant.
I’m fortunate in that I did find a way to feel better and that I found my passion for Nutrition, Yoga and Positive Psychology. Through deep inner work and self-discovery, I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I continue to follow my purpose now because I hope to help others one day as well. Because it makes me happy seeing other people see their own beauty within themselves. Because it keeps me motiveated to move forward myself.
We are always more capable of seeing the strength in others before ourselves. We are all so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
My Instagram account and my blog are a hard place to share a message of such importance and beauty. I know. And I wish that I could reach more people with what I have to say. I wish that IG would be used not for following strangers posting about discount codes and fashion updates, but about things that can really make a difference in this world.
But I’m trying and I hope that for those that are listening, I’m somehow helping.
My own struggle
I have suffered with mental health issues for a long time. I had been in care and treatment for years upon years. It wasn’t until recently that I finally dedicated myself to recovery. (Recovery needs the, ‘I’)
The thing about mental illnesses is that no one ever chooses to suffer from them. No one can pick or choose which one they fancy, when or how long for. I never wished to be ill or suffer at any point of my life. DEFINITELY NOT! It was a coping mechanism for me, mistreating my body and mind was a friend I latched onto whilst searching for safety and comfort.
The more I learn about mental health, the more I realise that, just like physical health, it’s not about the one off things that make a big difference. But the continued (daily) practices that we can develop to support our every day health. These practices can support our ability to manage the inevitable flux of life. I’m sure you can guess that yoga plays a big part in supporting my positive mental health. That doesn’t mean that all days are rosy, but that the hard days are easier when I’ve been on my mat regularly. Just breathing through the discomfort – instead of ignoring it.
There are other things too
Eating well, seeing friends, creativity, being in nature, giving myself space to be, to breath. Sometimes I lean more into some and other times others, but the most positive thing has been creating this toolbox for myself and knowing that there is no shame in talking and sharing. In fact, I think if we all had the courage to talk a bit more about how we feel and the compassion to listen and hold space for others, then our collective mental health could be supported even more!
Don’t be the victim
“Your personality loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.”
A mental illness is a dark force that takes over your mind, it breaks you, steals you and becomes your existence. Mental illnesses are horrible and should not be fantasied over. This is something we must tackle as soon as possible.
For years I lived listening to the voice inside of me telling me I wasn’t ever good enough, skinny enough, worthy enough and I thought my life would always be that way. But, it turns out that humans are complex creatures with powerful emotions and we have the sad ability to self destruct BUT we also have the beautiful ability to self heal. The voice I used to hear shouting at me, bullying me, hurdling hate at me, ripping through me, drowning me… I now hear whispering love poems to me & encouraging me. I still have bad days but they are rare, I’m self-healing you see.
I’m so grateful that I’ve found tools (such as yoga, a plant based diet, new friends, meditation) to look after my mental well-being. When I was struggling, my mental and physical well-being plummeted, I felt lost, hopeless and could not see how I could ever get better!
The truth is
It took several years of hard work to finally recover, and it isn’t over yet, but today I don’t look back with shame but with gratitude to what I’ve achieved. One step at the time. Once you start to believe that change is possible, you can really start your healing journey.
I usually don’t talk about this but today I just want to let you know that you are not alone and I’m sending all my love and support for those struggling.
Now it’s your turn!
Nothing is impossible when you start to believe in yourself. But only YOU can change yourself so never put the keys for happiness in someone else’s pocket! Don’t try to put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or the things that you post or say. All that matters is that you are happy with the message you are delivering. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth, of your happiness. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.
Crack your shell open so that the light can shine in and out of you, reflecting inner peace and freedom.
Unlock your own door to brightness and let your light shine bright so that it will inspire others!
Today, I give you this advice:
It is OK not to be OK.
It is OK to need help.
And it is OK to ask for help.
Most importantly, it is OK to let someone help you.
I am sending all my love to those of you struggling! I want to let you know that you are NOT ALONE! There are many more out there suffering. They are just too afraid to speak up.
Stay strong! If I can do this, you can too!
Always love, Nila
REMEMBER that change happens once the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.Your inner guidance.
My Top 5 Mental Health Tips:
Meditate – daily:
If you are anything like me, you might be thinking that taking 10 minutes out of your day “to do nothing” is not going to help. But meditation isn’t “doing nothing”, it’s a mind and body practice that has been proven to help with depression, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and a whole host of different health issues.
Hop onto the mat to practice Yoga:
As most of you know, Yoga has played a huge role in my recovery. If you don’t want to attain a studio class, there are numerous online classes on YouTube for a home practice. I personally prefere practicing at home and letting my breath guide my movements. One of my favorite classes are led by Adriene. You can find her FREE YouTube practices here.
Nourish your body with colourful food:
With this I not only mean to eat the rainbow, but also to eat intuitively those foods that make your heart beat and your soul shine! Don’t regret what you have been eating and bless your food before you start to eat.
This might be very hard for you, but sometimes the hardest things are also the most affective ones. Trust me, it helped me so much during my own recovery to seperate myself from the screen for some time until I was ready to get back.
Ask for help:
Unlike you may make yourself believe, talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. I was scared for so long and today I wish I would have raised my voice long before I had the courage to speak up! Just do it. It will open up the doors for new perspectives and hope you cannot give yourself!