Mental health is a human right…to have someone hold space for you, it’s not foo foo. It’s not just something that Hollywood celebrities get. It’s a human need to be held and understood.— Mayim Bialik
You may well recognize Mayim Bialik as the lovable, dorky neuroscientist, Amy Farrah Fowler, in the television sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ (If not, where have you been?)
But pop-culture-knowledge-shaming aside, did you know that Mayim’s an actual, legit neuroscientist as well as a raging mental health advocate?
Whatsmore, she’s also started a brand spanking new mental health podcast, ‘Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown’, a superbly quirky platform where Mayim quite literally breaks down the myths of mental health and emotional well-being. So who better to give us a bit of advice when it comes to dodging the pits of doom and gloom?
Mayim’s Mental Health…And Lack Thereof
So Mayim, just like the rest of us mere mortals, suffered a Big Bang to her mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. Having battled with depression most of her life, lockdown, as you can imagine, did nothing but fuel the fire.
“What this global pandemic has done is hold up a mirror to the darkest corners of our existence.”
Pair that with her huge fixation with the brain and how it fires and wires; you’ve got a perfect recipe for highly effective (and emergency) self-help.
Not only did Mayim drag herself out of covid-induced spikes of despair, but we managed to get a few helpful tips from her too. Five, to be exact. Scroll down to add them to your mental health toolbelt.
Agony Aunt Mayim’s Advice on Surviving Lockdown
As nothing more than space monkeys hurtling through space faster than we can comprehend, it’s safe to say that we’ve been rendered somewhat defenseless as of recent.
Just like our scaly dinosaur friends weren’t prepared for the impractical asteroid that slammed them into oblivion, we’ve not exactly approached this global catastrophe wisely. (Unless you’re a New Zealander, in which case, your Prime Minister rocks, and this generalization doesn’t apply).
Nope. Although the vaccine is being distributed like hot cakes as I type out this blog, the delay in medicine and lockdowns have resulted in millions of deaths.
We. Were. Not. Prepared.
But you know what other resources we lacked? And are still lacking?
Mental health advice.
You, reader, won’t have gotten away with it Scot-free.
You may have lost your job. You may have gotten sick. You might have broken up with your spouse. Heaven forbid, but you might have even lost them to covid. At the very least, you were bored out of your mind…all these things, take your pick, will have compromised your mental health.
And did your Prime Minister/President/Cult Leader come a-knockin’ to sit you down and teach you how to navigate all of that sh*t?
No. (Again, Kiwis excluded.)
So although most of us haven’t had the privilege of a certain female prime minister to put us on the straight and narrow, in Mayim we trust.
Here’s what she told us to do.
#1: Cut Yourself Some Slack…You’re Not Screwed Up, the World Is!
If you’ve struggled during the pandemic, or before, or after even, with your head…you’re not alone. And it’s not your frickin’ fault.
Mayim went to town on her interview with Vishen about the fact that we live in a world that has very, very slim pickings when it comes to mental health education.
The system itself doesn’t set us up for success. Although little by little it’s changing for the better, our governments still don’t invest enough money into making things like psychotherapy available for everyone. And the subject still stands as a perilous blind spot in our schools and universities.
#2: Don’t Hide…and Seek Help!
If you haven’t already, please come out from behind the curtain already and get some help. You wouldn’t limp around with a broken leg, so why would you suffer a mental illness in silence?
Mayim says that the very best help would come from a trained professional such as an experienced psychotherapist, counselor, or coach. If you’ve got a decent public health system, you can go to the doctors and request help for free. But unfortunately, not everyone has this privilege, nor are they in a position to splash out on private sessions.
But at the very least, something you can do is get free help online. Getting clued up about what’s going on, even if it’s just putting a name on your mental health condition, is a great place to start.
Mayim recommends the National Alliance on Mental Illness and has personally used their free services for many years at some of the toughest times of her life.
#3: Not to Be All Gwyneth About It…but Practice Mindfulness!
I did have to chuckle to myself when Mayim opened this one with a disclaimer:
“Look, I’m not giving you Gwyneth Paltrow advice,” with a defensive raising of the hands, “but the notion that we can calm our nervous system down by learning to stop and breathe is a very important scientific fact which really does change your lens with which you view the world.”
Preach, Mrs. Bialik.
Good thing we happen to have made the Mindvalley Omvana app full of free meditations as of, literally, yesterday (including an amazing one by Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, who just happens to have trained the cast of Doctor Strange on Eastern Philosophy. Cool right?).
#4: Go the F*ck to Sleep!
This one is absolutely fundamental to your mental wellbeing. Did you know that there’s a bidirectional relationship between bad sleep and depression?
In layman’s terms, not getting enough Zzzs can actively cause depression, and depression will most likely negatively affect your sleep too. So go to bed at a sensible time on a relatively empty tummy.
In addition, Mayim encourages you to ditch your frickin’ phone an hour before bed too. It emits blue light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime! “The phone is a wonderful thing”, says Mayim, “but that doesn’t mean it’s contributing to your mental wellness”.
#5: Quit Numbing Out
Get ready for a stern talking to by Mayim…Momma-Style.
She told us to, you guessed it, say no to drugs and alcohol. We know it sounds lame and samey, but if you’re suffering from a mental health condition, these substances will only aggravate your symptoms and the longevity of the problem (as well as create new ones).
That goes for anything that ‘numbs the pain’, ie, binging on Netflix, eating a tray of Krispy Kremes to yourself, or engaging in mindless, crappy quality sex.
“Quit numbing and actually go get yourself some help”.
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