Inspired by Born This Way Foundation’s Advisory Board Members.
As with everything we do at Born This Way Foundation, I turned to young people when writing this to learn (and share!) their unique insights for how to maintain and encourage mental wellness. My daughter and I founded Born This Way Foundation after meeting thousands of young people around the world who yearned to be met with care, affirmation, respect, empathy, kindness, and tangible resources to support their mental health. I’m honored to follow the lead of young people and lift up their meaningful, urgent ideas. Below are some ways you can express kindness to yourself and support your mental health inspired by the Foundation’s Advisory Board members.
- Set healthy boundaries. Knowing when we need to rest or take a break is an important part of self-care, and our Advisory Board member Keely reminded us that this sometimes means saying “no” or “another time.” It’s okay to let a non-urgent email or text message go unanswered for a while. It’s okay to turn down plans with a friend when you want time to recharge. We must listen to our minds and bodies, so we can show up better for ourselves and the people in our lives. It’s important to remember to offer this kindness to others, respecting when they may need to set boundaries with you as well. Our Advisory Board member Stellan also prioritizes zir mental health by “taking a major phone break” allowing zem to “really take in the world.”
- Find your mental health support team. Sometimes when you’re down, you may feel like isolating yourself. Though it’s good to do things you love on your own for self-care, it’s important to know who you will turn to when you’re facing a challenge. For instance, Irlanda’s friends support her by sending a message to check in, inviting her to dinner/coffee, and creating a safe space for her to vent if I need to release some emotions. I know from our research at the Foundation that peer networks matter and that having someone to turn to can be life-saving. As our Advisory Board member James Fowler shares, “It can be difficult to share you’re struggling, but I have been blessed to have friends who are able to listen and wait until I’m ready. I try to do the same for others.”
- Find Your Anchor. Born This Way Foundation partnered with an organization called Find Your Anchor to create Please Stay, a resource where you can find information to support your mental wellness, evidence-based self-care tips, and suggestions for anchors. Anchors are the things that keep us here from day-to-day or moment-to-moment. For our Advisory Board member Laurens, this could be “catching up on my reading list, going for a walk in nature, or listening to my favorite music!”
- Journaling. Regularly reflecting on the people and things we are thankful for is beneficial for our mental health. Try incorporating this into your daily routine! Similar to our Advisory Board member Ayana, I incorporate journaling into my daily practice. I make it a point to write down three things I’m grateful for that day and like her, this allows me to “remove myself from the noise of day-to-day life” and “feel prepared to face whatever challenges come my way.”
- Allow yourself to be spontaneous. In the midst of my busy schedule, I remember to grant ourselves permission to do something fun that wasn’t according to plan. Advisory Board member Joe, “leaves room for self-care and spontaneous in person activities. By focusing on the essentials, it means I have wiggle room to be self-aware and make decisions based on how I’m feeling on any given day.”
- Check in with yourself. Our Advisory Board member Sophie wisely shares, “As I navigate the professional and academic world, I often find myself in situations that can take a toll on my mental health. I find it helpful to check in with myself and ask the simple question: ‘what do I need right now to stay on track in my recovery?’ Often, the answer is as simple as prioritizing my basic needs like nutrition, hydration, and sleep, but at other times I find it helpful to have conversations with loved ones at home to remind me of my roots and how far I’ve come in my mental health journey.”
- Be Kind. We know from our research at the Foundation that kindness is directly linked to our mental health. In our Kindness Is Action report, we learned the majority of young people say experiencing more kindness would improve their mental wellness. Not only can a small act of kindness make someone’s day, we’ve learned it is powerful enough to even save someone’s life. The kind acts young people told us would have the biggest impact on their mental wellbeing are things we each have the power to do; they include: listening to someone when they have a problem, showing you believe in someone and encouraging them to do their best, and checking in to ask if they’re doing ok.
For additional resources for support please visit Born This Way Foundation’s website at bornthisway.foundation/get-help-now.