6 Ways I Look After My Mental Health (As An Empath)

6 Ways I Look After My Mental Health (As An Empath)

Note: This letter from the editor was originally published in our weekly newsletter and is being republished here.

Hey guys,

A couple of days ago, September 10, was World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day. With droughts and fires impacting communities, pandemic lockdowns resulting in economic decline and financial insecurity, widespread job losses and stress (and unfortunately, leading to more family violence), now more than ever it’s important that we check in on the people we care about, particularly if there’s cause for worry and concern. 

Earlier this year my uncle lost his battle with depression. I also have some close friends and family who are currently dealing with mental health issues and I know the importance of checking in with them regularly. While I don’t need R U OK Day to prompt me to reach out to my loved ones, I am grateful that there is a day that reminds people to do so because we can all get caught up in our own lives and forget about others. (In fact, we have regular visitors to HQ who are here to learn about permaculture and self-reliance skills and after mentioning R U OK Day, they were grateful for my reminder as they have close friends to check on too).

Now as the go-to emotional support for some people in my circle (and as an empath), I have to admit that I at times struggle with the weight of it, particularly right now when it seems so many people I love are going through hardships. 

In my opinion, health and wellbeing plays a big part in sustainable living, so how do I look after myself whilst trying to be a support to others?

Nature therapy is beneficial to mental health.

Here are some ways I look after me:

I allow myself to cry and let it all out. 

This year I’ve been exposed to other people’s traumatic experiences, and at times I can’t make sense of the suffering and can’t understand how people can inflict so much pain on others. Instead of keeping it all in, I cry and let it all out. At the end of it, I feel better. 

I write.

To make sense of my own thoughts and feelings, I write them down. I have kept a journal for decades and I swear by this form of therapy.

I lean on my partner Ben for emotional support.

There are times when I am emotionally drained and in those times, I lean on my partner Ben. Whether it’s just a hug that I need or his ear or for him to take on additional duties because I don’t have the energy to do them, I know I can turn to him for understanding and emotional support.

Nature therapy.

Whether I’m just going for a walk on the property or I’m gardening, I always feel better when I’m spending time in nature. So each day, I make it a priority to spend time outside. First thing in the morning and most afternoons you will find me enjoying a cuppa in my greenhouse or gardens or going for a trek on our tree-filled farm. This is my favourite way to zen out.

I cook.

Cooking is another way I focus on taking care of me as it slows me down, allows me to take care of my health and nutrition (super important for mental health and wellbeing), and ensures I am present in the moment instead of being consumed by concern and worry.

Mental health services

Over a decade ago after learning of a family member’s wish to end his life, I contacted a good friend for support and advice; she was a nurse and had worked in a mental health ward in a prominent hospital in Melbourne. She referred me to mental health sites such BeyondBlue, Headspace and Lifeline and explained that these services also had resources for family and friends who needed additional support. Over the years I have gone on these sites to learn ways I can be of better support to the people I love, and to ensure that my family and friends are accessing the services they need. 

Now if you’re not ok, I want you to know you can reply to this email any time. Because no one should ever feel alone. And this community has been a wonderful support to me and I’d like to pay it forward.

Quote I’m Loving This Week:

“Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved and supported.” – Unknown.

Popular articles from our archives this week:

Now this weekend will be spent out in the gardens, weeding, planting out more edibles and painting the greenhouse. If you’re curious about what HQ looks like and want to learn about permaculture, make sure to follow on Insta Stories.

Anyway, I sincerely hope you all get the time this weekend to take care of you.

Peace, love and all that jazz,

Jen xx

Cover image of editor Jennifer Nini by Ben McGuire at Bamboo Land in Queensland, Australia.

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