Beauty comes from within a healthy body, and a happy mind.
Hi dear TBS readers, this is Eri, current managing director at Tokyo Beauty Stars.
Lately, we have transitioned remarkably into autumn, waking up to brisk mornings and returning home in cool evenings. Amidst shortened days and temperature swings, the changing of the seasons is not only accompanied by physical changes, but also changes to our hormonal balance and emotional stability.
For those of us with heightened and more delicate emotional sensitivity, the autumn blues can bring with it bouts of loneliness, emptiness and irritation. There is a Japanese expression that goes, “A woman’s heart is like the sky in autumn,” and we women in particular tend to experience heightened emotions and mood swings during this season. In today’s blog, I will be sharing part one of a two-part series on how to cultivate mental wellbeing with methods that I personally practice on a day to day basis.
Devote yourself to a purpose
Think about the last time you were chasing a deadline, planning a large-scale family event, or avidly concentrating on an urgent task. Did you spend much time overthinking? Funnily enough, it is said that humans are often up to no good when in possession of too much free time. Oftentimes, it is when we have time to kill that we end up over-analyzing and overreacting to things that really shouldn’t matter.
Feeling overwhelmed? Try focusing on what’s in front of you right now. Give yourself daily, weekly, monthly, and long-term goals for work. Don’t stop there, consider setting deadlines for your hobbies and passions as well. Reading a new novel from your favorite author is another way to temporarily escape into a different dimension.
Negative emotions are often an indicator of subconscious anxieties or concerns. Through goal setting, accomplishing a task and gaining a sense of achievement, you can master these emotions one step at the time. The point is to create goals small enough to allow yourself to constantly move forward, devote yourself into something, and simply concentrate on what’s ahead of you and your life.
Compartmentalize your feelings
Women can often be highly emotional creatures. Not too long ago, my sister was escorted by ambulance to a life-threatening premature delivery, and was subjected to the bedridden life for a period of over 2 weeks. She spent hours staring at the white hospital ceiling as she lay in bed, unable to move even her upper body to eat, while suffering severe pains from the C-section. Bathing was a luxury her body could not afford.
I did my best to stay in touch with her daily via text or phone call. It was a first, seeing her in such deep depression. She would switch uncontrollably between crying and laughing every few minutes while I spoke to her on the phone.
In time, she became increasingly emotionally unstable, reading her husband’s behavior negatively and saying hurtful things about him as if she were in complete paranoia. It reached the point where she contemplated jumping from the window.
After listening to her paranoia talk one time too many, I finally told her off over the phone, “You cannot read his mind, what you
think are his motives are merely your illusions. Actions speak for themselves. Don’t try to read people but look at the facts and the actions.”
In reality, although her husband never spoke much, he visited her bedside daily after work, even at times when he felt unwell, while single-handedly taking care of their first child. My sister, upon realizing her lack of gratitude towards her husband, at long last understood my message. After crying like a child over the phone, she proceeded to eat a big rice ball. As food had always been the source of her vitality, I knew then that she was going to be okay.
When you are swallowed by your emotions, try to see yourself from a bird’s eye point of view. When I feel like something wrong, I try to first compartmentalize my emotions, whether it be feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear, or jealousy. I then sit down and ask myself “Why?”, “Why is that?”. Do not rush to an immediate answer. Take time to calm down, as it is essential to face your feelings. When you are more composed, go over the previous emotions in a safe space, for instance while soaking in a warm bubble bath or on a quiet evening stroll alone.
Identify your feelings. It may be a fear of losing someone, inability to cope with work demands, or financial stress. Whatever it may be, be honest with yourself, because only you hold the key to the cause.
Once you have figured out the cause, take steps to design solutions and set up specific plans to overcome those emotions. Turn those plans into action, and those actions will in turn bring you sure results.
Pessimists are thought of as those who do not possess a strong mentality. Yet, they also tend to be more delicate, sensitive, and rich in artistic and creative expression. Personally, I feel they are oftentimes too hard on themselves, and so are quick to blame themselves or put themselves down.
Whether you are a pessimist, optimist, or realist, we have all at one point or the other felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and incompetent. Here is my remedy. Before falling asleep, try to remember three things while tucked under the covers of your bed: 1. What made you happy today, 2. In what way were you brave, 3. What you did do the best today… and praise yourself.
‘You go girl! Great job on keeping it together today!’
‘Well, things could be worse…’
Always end the day with gratitude and go to sleep visualizing the bright future ahead of you.
Praising yourself before you fall asleep helps you let go of your inferiority complex and increases confidence. I myself practice this method of self-love and acceptance daily.
Lastly, don’t forget to reward yourself
Today’s final method is frequently exercised by all women. Trust me, you are already doing this. Do what you love, give yourself an award.
Once a week, I read my favorite book at a cozy coffee shop, drink a glass of sparkling wine at the end of a long day, or relax in a sentō (public bath). Last week, I bought myself a charming new tablecloth. And just last night, I danced the evening away with my cat cuddled in my arms to the tune of Japanese 70’s rock music playing in my room. Those are but a few secret things I do to enjoy myself.
It is always good to cherish the music of the season. Since we are now into autumn, spend a night cooking with seasonal ingredients such as chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, potatoes while playing jazz on the radio. (PS. Ingredients containing amino acids or vitamin C are especially good for stabilizing the spirit!). These are just some small but delightful examples drawn from my personal life.
You can do it too! Make yourself a secret rewards list on your phone and choose one from the list depending on your mood or your achievements – it’s a great way to celebrate a job well done and the perfect pick me up after a bad day.
In the next blog, allow me to share some more tips on how to take care of your mental health (part two!). Meanwhile, continue to keep your chin up, head high, and smile ahead for the weekend!