My 2nd Goal for 2016: I Will Practice Mental Self-Care

yoga-namasteMost people know that 2014 was one of the shittiest years on record for me. I had just given birth to my third child. I had to quit my job when my father became terminally ill. I ended up becoming a stay-at-home mom for a few months when my eldest child had issues at his private school. My father passed away abruptly. We struggled to sell our home. Then, when it did finally sell, we had to move our entire family across the country just days before I would begin coursework for my PhD. In all that, I gained about 30 pounds. I stopped taking care of my body. I, literally, became my lowest priority. And, while I have improved this slightly in 2015, I haven’t done nearly enough.

In 2015, I went back to getting my nails manicured regularly, a habit that I started almost 20 years ago. I started taking better care of my skin and actually stuck to my night time facial care routine. I joined a gym. I changed my diet. I did all the things that made me think I was taking better care of myself. But then, at the end of the year, I found out that my body wasn’t responding as well to all of the changes I had made because I wasn’t taking care of my mental health.

After years and years of poor sleeping habits and inconsistent stress relief routines, I was tired both mentally and physically. So, in 2016 I am going to do a few things to get myself mentally healthy again.

First, I am going to stop taking on responsibilities which outstrip my ability to meet them. I often say “yes” to everything. I have been known to sometimes feel beholden to others in ways that end up being harmful for me. Next year, I am going to work on centering my own mental health needs before taking on a new project, a writing assignment, a speaking engagement, or anything else. I am going to practice saying “no” so that I am not overwhelming myself with more work than I can actually muster.

Second, I am going to stop treating my insides worse than I treat my outsides. I have spent so much time trying to take care of my skin, hair, nails, and physique but have spent very little acknowledging that my mind too needs attention. I hunch over my computer everyday, take very few breaks, and neglect to do fun, enjoyable things like take walks and chill. Meanwhile, my mental state has been declining. I’m changing that in 2016. I’ll be adding regular meditation and mentally rejuvenating activities into my normal routine. I am going to start stepping away from the grind of my writing and academic life and take moments to give myself a break.

Lastly, I am going to rest. I mean, really rest. Like, when I’m tired, I am going to acknowledge what my body is telling me and I’m going to sit the hell down. I am known for never resting. I don’t even rest when I am sleeping. I just can’t be about that life anymore. I am aware that if I continue to push myself beyond my limits, I won’t be healthy enough to reach my professional or personal goals.

Overall, I recognize that my mental health is a number one priority for me. If I want to meet my aspirations, I am going to have to take the time to preserve it.


Photo credit: Sessilee Lopez Instagram

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.