5 tips to embrace mental health

By Catarina Noronha

Hello, hello.

I’m Catarina, Employer Branding Executive here at Infraspeak.

Today I’m going to open up a bit about my mental health and try to share some tips that really helped me cope whilst having to manage my journey, and stay engaged during different stages of my life. 

A few years ago I wasn’t in a very good place mentally. Being an emotional young adult probably didn’t help and, like many others, I tend to overthink things.

At first, I’d try to hide my challenges from my family, friends and teachers, but eventually, people started to notice that their smiling girl wasn’t smiling like before.

Looking back, I remember thinking that no one would understand me because I didn’t realise other people had problems too. I was duped by the common, misplaced image of perfect families, fulfilling professional lives and the pressure we are placed under to appear happy at all times.

Compared to when I was growing up, I believe we have become more open and that perception has now changed. Nowadays people are way more vocal about their feelings and there’s a growing recognition that life is more than what social media shows us.

Based on my personal experience, I’ll share with you five tips that helped me evolve into a more balanced, happy adult.

1 Stop, think and acknowledge what is happening

This was the most difficult part of the process. I was living my life as if my problems didn’t exist until they were so large that they impacted my daily happiness, personality and how I interacted with peers.

Take time for yourself and think, deeply, about what is happening to you. Only after introspection will you know what to do and how to address it. Find this time — trust.

2 Talk with someone

It’s easy to get stuck in your own thoughts and shut down. In my case, I was lucky to be surrounded by amazing teachers that encouraged me to go see the school’s psychologist — the best decision I ever made!

First, it was incredible to express everything I was feeling to a neutral person. I poured my heart out. Cried a lot too. He helped me see beyond my own clouded vision, plan the next steps so I could face the coming challenges in my life and, more importantly, he listened without judging me.

3 Know yourself

Without labelling my experience a certain way, I am sure that when I was at my lowest, my personality changed and I felt very depressed. 

It’s important to note that even during my worst periods, I remained savvy and ambitious and able to achieve major milestones. The issue was not a lack of productivity, but misplaced intentionality! I was doing it to prove to others that I was capable and even if on the outside I looked completely fine, I was hurting within. 

Self-awareness requires making the extra time to learn about yourself. Write, sing, and engage with activities that make you think on a less superficial level. Creativity can help you learn about your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

If you can master the very difficult art of self-awareness, you’re one step closer to discovering what makes you tick, your passions and your purpose in life.

4 Care for your mind… and body

It sounds obvious, yet not everyone does this.

To have a healthy mind, you need to be in sync with your body. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, and stimulate your body with activities that make you feel good.

This step took me almost five years. I went from playing volleyball to doing nothing — and even blamed it on not having time, due to all the work in the university and extracurriculars.

What made me commit was that I started doing exercise and improving my nutrition, because I wanted to have a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight, toning, and so on, could only be a consequence of my lifestyle decision.

Exercising is now part of my life. It’s the time of day which is completely mine, and I love it.

5 Be gentle with yourself

There will be ups and downs — it’s part of the never-ending journey.

Be gentle. Remember healing takes time. Surround yourself with positive people who contribute to your personal development. Foster meaningful connections and never give up on discovering more about yourself.

Embracing mental health is knowing it is a “forever” kind of deal. It won’t always be easy, but it’s worth it in the long run.

You got this!