Congrats on making it through the last week of January, the first month of the year, and the first week of February. I don’t know about anyone else, but while the beginning of this year has been a refreshing start to another phase of my life, it’s also been quite exhausting at times. For me, for the first time in about a year and a half, I started working a “second job” again (I don’t get paid, but its a research internship that might as well be a second job). I love working there, and while its added some stress, I know that I have a much better handle on things now than I did the first time I tried doing school, a part-time job and a research internship.
While I might have a lot going on, there are others who have quite a bit more on their plates, so I try not to complain too much. But thinking about all of the stuff that I have going on every week, I started thinking about how important my support systems are to my life. I realized not too long ago that while American culture emphasizes the importance of being independent and taking care of yourself- which is a really important skill- it tends to de-emphasize the importance and necessity of having supportive figures on your team. These are the people who try to lift you up when you are down, who are always there to cheer you on, and look out for your best interest, even when you don’t necessarily see things the same way. These are the people who you laugh with and who you argue with but, at the end of the day, you can’t see yourself living life without them.
I realized a short while ago that’s impossible to always do things on your own and achieve everything on your own, and having support systems is especially relevant to mental health. I wrote a post last week about how to get someone off of your mind, but another related and equally important I want to talk about is detoxifying the social environment that you live in.
There are many, many people who you might run into on a daily basis. While all of them may be multidimensional and have good hearts, there are some who will do more harm than good for you. Whether this is by talking about you behind your back, or bashing on you in person, being dishonest or constantly negative, if it contributes to creating a toxic environment, that negative energy is something that you’ll want to get rid of.
It’s important to realize here that sometimes people don’t realize that they are being this way; maybe they have a lot going on in their lives at the moment that’s causing stress for them, and you are the one person they feel like venting out all of the negativity to, and they don’t realize how much you dislike it. In cases like this, the first step is to let them know what they are doing, and you can be super straight-forward about it. Just say, “hey, I’ve noticed that you’ve been really negative for the last few days”, or, “is there a reason you keep snapping at me”? Let them know how it makes you feel before you decide whether or not you want them around.
And if you realize that you are the person whose constantly negative, talk to someone about it. Let your closest friend, family member, instructor, adviser or whoever you want to know how you are feeling. If you don’t, that feeling will never go away.
I’m grateful that I can say that I have a pretty strong support system. My aai, my baba, and my sister are always there for me whenever I need them to be, and they are always supportive of me even when I can’t manage to do that for myself. I have friends who will literally immediately carve out time in their day to talk to me and listen to me if I ever feel a little lost.
Sometimes I feel like there is a clock that’s always ticking inside my head, telling me that I’m always running out of time. I’ll get so stressed out that I’ll sit in my room and try to do nothing but work and get stressed and overwhelmed and start crying. In these situations, I need someone to tell me to get out of my own head and realize that I have more time than I think to do everything I need to do, and that I always can count on their help. If I didn’t have people who did that for me, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now or what my life would be like.
I have a good support system at university too: I have instructors, mentors and advisers that will always look out for my best interest, and will encourage me to keep getting better and better at everything that I do. I need the people in my life, and I don’t at all feel bad saying that. Everyone needs a support system.
My point in describing all of this to all of you is that with these many people looking out for me, there is no way that I can say I’m doing well all on my own. Sometimes its hard to imagine just how many supporters you have. But take a minute to think about all the times that you’ve had to ask for help, and whose been there for you. Even if it’s just one person, that person is important for your success and your mental well-being, so make sure that they know that!
As a close this letter, I’ll ask all of you, my readers, to make a promise to me for this week: find the person (or people) that you are closest to and spend some quality time with them. Make sure that they are doing okay, and regardless, be there for them. Make sure that both of you take some time to engage in self-care.
This week, I’m looking for some new skin care products to try. If I find any, I’ll be able to tell you all about those next week! Until then, have an amazing week next week!
P.S.- I’m sending out an email about my favorite self-care tips later this week, so make sure you sign up for my email list if you want a copy!
You can do that by