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Let's Talk About Mental Health and How to Maintain It

There used to be a real stigma about people who suffer in some way with their mental health. Fortunately, more and more information has become available and there has been a much greater understanding of such things as bereavement, PTSD and addiction. When someone discovers that one in four people experience some form of mental issue during their life, they won't feel so alone or so unique.

There are many strategies and tools to help people who find themselves in a depression or the aftermath of divorce. What is equally important to know is that there are ways for everyone to maintain their mental health, and that's what this article is all about.

Professional help

Both family and friends may be a major support when times are hard. Sometimes more specialised assistance is needed, however. Therapists gain valuable experience and training in many aspects of mental health. When reading about a therapist in Austin, it was beneficial to read that they said it's not just about helping people who are stuck in depression, stress or difficult relationships. It's also about helping them gain tools so they can overcome the issues long term. In addition to having recovery plans, therapists can harness strategies to stay well mentally for the rest of their lives.

Have a sense of personal identity

Many people experience low self-esteem through their upbringing, or the words and actions of others. Sometimes the voices in our head that say we are insignificant or unable to achieve anything are the voices of others. By observing our self-talk and identifying its source, it is possible to create a new script. We are more likely to believe what we hear than what we simply read or think. Some people stick daily confessions on their bathroom mirror to read aloud. There could be sentences like: 'I am loved'. 'There is always a solution'. 'I am an achiever'. It's well worth creating confessions that are tailored to our particular needs.

Be disciplined with food and drink

Binge eating and unwise snacking is bad for us. If we eat too much, we will feel overweight and our self-esteem will take a knock. It's important to create a healthy and realistic image of how we want to be.

Alcohol intake should either be highly disciplined or phased out. It is a depressant, and people with addictive personalities or problems often get snared by it.

Take regular exercise

The experts advise we should have exercise four or five times a week. It should be rigorous enough to get our hearts racing. It's important to seek medical advice first because no one should go from daily inactivity to a demanding exercise routine overnight.

The benefits of exercise are many. It's not just our physical health that will improve. Our concentration levels will increase. Endorphins and other body chemicals are released each time we exercise, and they are like 'happy pills' - a natural way to feel well and content.

If our bodies are fit, our reactions to stress become less dramatic. Even PTSD sufferers have found that active mindfulness whilst exercising can help with their tendency to overreact in certain circumstances.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices have become more and more popular. That's because it is a form of meditation (not necessarily a religious practice) that helps benefit our thinking and relaxation. When we stop the mind-chatter and self-talk, we can feel more peaceful. The goal is to be mindful of our bodies and present in the moment.

Mindfulness is not just a pleasant experience while it is being practiced. It also helps us be more calm and focused once we have finished.

Sleep

Most people require 7 to 8 hours' sleep a night. We will feel better if we have disciplined times when we go to bed and when we get up. If someone is sleep deprived, their patience levels can be reduced and they can struggle to perform their daily tasks.

Late night television is not beneficial. There are new temptations to avoid these days, such as the modern phenomena of binge watching television programs on such platforms as Netflix.

The work-life balance

These days it can be quite a juggle as more and more parents are having to work and put their young children in child care. There are so many hats to put on during the day, it can be really stressful.

It is vital that people regularly stand back from their lives and observe how many hours are spent at work, and how many at home. Relationships with children, partners and friends can all suffer when things get out of balance.

When we are positive about our identities and disciplined with our food, drink and exercise, we will feel better. Having regular sleep and mindfulness practices will also aid our mental health. Once our home-work life is in balance too, things will get easier. If we still struggle over certain issues, there is no shame in receiving professional help for our everyday lives. When everything comes together, we have the perfect prescription for experiencing great mental health.

5 min read
Self

Lessons Learned and the Power of Turning 50

Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.

I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.

I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.

Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.

My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.

I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.

When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.

So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.

Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.

And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.

This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.

I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.

I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.