Mental health is so important, but yet, many of us ignore it. We often focus on being physically fit, drinking matcha green tea lattes and we can become trapped doing every self care act possible that keeps us busy. Have you ever thought about the connection between your thyroid health and your mental health?
A Time to Reflect
Think about it. When you’re stressed, do you notice that you start to forget things more often or your joints starts to bother you? This year was one of the most overwhelming years of my life. Not because I things were bad per se, but everything was shifting so quickly. It was the year of two things can exist at once. I often found myself exhausted because so many good things were happening and I wasn’t used to it. My body constantly screamed “System Overload”!
When I’m stressed, my body shuts down, without warning. My joints hurt, I can’t remember anything, and my alarm clock doesn’t exist. I become incredibly short tempered and moody. I don’t interact much with others because I don’t want to do or say anything that will negatively impact my relationship with others.
I can think back to a time when I was diagnosed with my thyroid disease and I was so anxious and depressed. I just couldn’t understand what was going on and my body just wouldn’t cooperate. I decided that I needed to make a change. I couldn’t continue to experience what I was going through. I decided to go back to therapy.
Putting Systems in Place to Succeed: Therapy
I am no stranger to therapy. It has been a saving grace to me for most of my life. I started going to therapy when I was about seven years old. As I got older, I understood how valuable a great therapist is. I have been able to work through some really difficult times, but most importantly, my therapist and I were able to focus on ways to help me take care of myself. I meditate, pray, journal, and I talk to my loved ones/friends. I will even color from time to time and I am known as the person that has coloring books all over the place.
What matters most for those of us with thyroid issues is self care. When you do things to make yourself happy, you naturally start to feel better. When you feel good, your immune system sends you a big thank you and your symptoms are reduced.
Here is my Saturday routine to give you an example:
- I wake up whenever I want.
- I take my meds and I will get a cup of tea (no milk, cream or sugar) and will go for a walk. This walk is at a very slow pace because I haven’t eaten yet and I don’t want to get sick due to my blood sugar dropping.
- I come home and eat breakfast.
- I do work, whether it’s writing/coming up with content or reviewing my tasks for the next week at work. Typically I do more of my own stuff on the weekend as it gives me that balance.
- I plan out my meals for the week. Sometimes I go grocery shopping on early Saturday morning or Sunday. I usually will cook (two to three hours max) for meal prep for the week.
- Walk #2!
- I take a nap or do more content development/will watch a movie
- I typically will take one more walk for the day or I fall asleep…
I love that I allow myself to flow with the wind on the weekend. I enjoy being outside and being in touch with nature. I have developed this routine as a result of talking with my therapist. I LOVE THIS SCHEDULE. Notice that I don’t have times associated with my day. I like to mention that I’m a recovering perfectionist. This allows me to just be in the moment.
Beware of Being the Strong Friend Storyline
Death by suicide is has become the leading cause of death in the United States (Suicide, n.d.). It’s easy for someone to send a message to say “hey thinking of you”. or “How are you?” without truly being present. It’s easy to check a box, but are we truly taking the time to understand the struggles of the people we care about? Personally, it’s easy for me to say “I’m fine” because I’ve learned that when I show emotion, it can be difficult for my loved ones to truly understand what’s happening. Because of this, I have learned to mask my true feelings which leaves me isolated and that isn’t good for my health either.
I know it can be difficult to express emotions when “everyone is going through something”, but please remember that your needs are valid and are just as important as anyone else’s.
Need a podcast episode to listen to? Try episode three of the Thyroid Warrior Podcast, where I talk about some of these concepts.
Suicide. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide