Author: Karyna Jansons from Ceres Counselling
Karyna Jansons, a registered counsellor who owns Ceres Counselling, writes her six tips for women to priorities their Mental Health for Miss Monograms 2023 Liptember Campaign
With the hustle and grind of daily life, the modern woman is busy wearing many hats:
devoted mother, daughter or sister; domestic goddess; focused career-woman or uplifting and shining support for numerous friends and family.
Even for Superwoman, keeping her head straight with so much going on is a monumental task. That’s why a recent statistic by the Liptember Foundation that claims 7/10 women under 39 don’t believe their own mental health is a priority is a horrifying truth.
Many ingredients go into believing that women’s mental health is not a priority. The way we are raised (both by our families and by our communities) influences us to believe that we need to be the caretakers of our home and everyone around us, but not ourselves. It’s habitual to put everyone first.
Social media has also perhaps played a part, creating pressure to always “look” made up and have our ducks in a row, despite our actual “feelings” or the reality of the matter. Others would argue that the heady mix of modern capitalism and feminism have created a dynamic where the idea that we can have and be it all (with all the aforementioned societal pressure) leaves no room to complain or begrudge any element about our status lest it be stripped away or judged harshly.
As a counsellor, the one thing that I always see again and again in my sessions are women who come in burnt-out, burning the candle at both ends who still feel like they’re not doing “enough”. These women have such shame and guilt for taking time out of their day to do something for themselves.
The sad irony is that most of these women are more than capable of doing it all and are usually doing everything well except for taking care of themselves. Over time that comes at a great cost. With what I’ve usually seen in my career, depression and anxiety tend to top the list, along with a multitude of physical ailments and a loss of sense of self.
So how do we, as both individuals and a collective of women, prioritise our mental health?
1. Know it’s OK to Ask for Help:
It’s not a failure at all to say you’re struggling and to ask for help. Whether this is
from your family, your partner or a professional counsellor like myself, reaching out
and communicating your struggle is the first step. By speaking out, it not only
empowers you but also creates an environment where other women feel
empowered to ask for the help they need and deserve.
Hint: If it feels too nerve-wrecking to actually have a spoken conversation, consider
writing a letter, email or text where you can state your needs.
2. Schedule It In:
Sometimes, putting “you time” in your calendar that is treated with the same
importance as a business meeting or doctor’s appointment can help you plan and
prioritise yourself. If you can afford it, booking in self-care like massages, facials or
mental health treatments (where there is a fee for service) can help you stick to
taking that time out for yourself because you’ve already paid for it.
3. Setting Boundaries and Sticking to Them:
Have you ever set a boundary and then because someone else is in crisis or needs
help, you’ve cancelled whatever you were wanting or needing to do? Because you
thought they deserved care more than you? Me too. However, if you say you’re
going to do something and then don’t do it at someone else’s request, you teach
people that they can expect the same behaviour from you again.
Perhaps more scarily, you also diminish your own trust in yourself. Read that again.
You’re literally teaching your own mind to mistrust your needs and desires. Learning
how to say no can feel terrifying, but can be so liberating and is a skill that is built
4. Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques:
Practicing mindfulness and meditation doesn’t have to come at the cost of time.
Want to know my favourite INSTANT stress-reduction technique that you can do?
Take a deep breath in for a slow count of 4, hold for a second, and then exhale
slowly for 8 (or anything more than a count of 4 if lung capacity is an issue). Do this a
few times and watch the stress diminish. The best thing about this technique is that
you can fit it in almost anywhere like when you’re driving the car, feeding the baby,
or as you’re literally walking into that big meeting.
5. Diet and Exercise:
I’d be remiss without mentioning this, even though you’ve probably heard it a
million times. Having a healthy diet and regular physical movement can move
mountains for mental health. But I recommend not overdoing this either, or setting
goals you know you won’t reach. Start small by adding in just a few more fruit and
veg a week, or dancing around your living room for a few minutes a day to music you
love. Build upon small, healthy habits so you’re not over-stretching yourself too
6. Use Reminders:
I’ll admit, one of the hardest parts about prioritising your mental health is either
forgetting it’s a priority, or not feeling worthy enough to consistently make it a
priority. Grab a pen and sticky-note, and put an affirmation up somewhere where
you can see it regularly that resonates with you and reminds you about how much
you’re worth (Hint: it’s more than you know).
My final plea to women everywhere is that you are worth taking the time to care for yourself, or asking others to take care of you for a change. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we are not doing enough or that we are not worthy of relaxation. If you want to start doing something good for the world, you can start by doing something good for you.
Karyna Jansons is a registered counsellor who owns Ceres Counselling, a boutique private practice in Maleny where she assists individuals and couples across Australia to build bridges to better lives. She is passionate about helping all her clients to learn new ways to support their mental health and
embrace the ever-changing seasons of life. She loves a good pot of tea, new stationary (like the
journals available at Miss Monogram) and exploring nature on the Sunshine Coast.
If you would like to contribute to Miss Monograms fundraising efforts for Liptember - Follow this link liptember.com.au/missmonogramliptempber