7 Women Get Real About Embracing Their Best, Not Perfection

Mental wellness is currently affecting us all at this moment. Life is at a standstill for you and I and it's really scary. Some people may be going through these feelings for the first time and their feelings are absolutely valid. Others may be going through this on a periodic basis and that is okay too.What matters the most is that you're doing and living your best. So here are seven women who are living their best life with today's circumstances.

1. Jamiliah, @sisterisfine

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sister Is Fine, LLC. (@sisterisfine) on

Jamilah is the founder of Sister is Fine, a community she created for women to uplift and support each other. “I had just left a long term relationship. The last glimpse of hope was marriage, but four months into it, I had to face a truth—I was unhappy. I was unhappy and simply going through the motions. I was going through the same cycle every day. Work, home, kids, clean, sleep, repeat. I suffered from depression as a teen and I just felt it creep back into my life until I decided to leave my husband.” This was just some of the inspiration of how Sister is Fine was started. Since finding Sister is Fine, she has even created a Facebook page for those to join. “I want the Sister is Fine Conversations group to be a space where women can be vulnerable and relate to one another on levels they didn’t know were possible,” she says about the group. “I feel the ladies are doing a great job of supporting each other.” 

One of the things she believes is currently happening right now is the stigma around mental health in the Black community. “There are still some people in the Black community that still insist on praying away mental issues. There is also the notion that we can't let everybody (a therapist) know our business.” She believes that if those in the Black community get “out of our own way,” we can fix the stigma. “It's important that there's so much outreach on social media. I've seen several Instagram accounts normalizing therapy for Black people. The more we talk about it, the more we can talk about it.”

She has four children, two sons and two daughters. When asked what she wants her daughters to learn from Sister is Fine, it’s to love themselves. “Love themselves enough to not settle for less than they deserve. If they keep that in mind, they will never let anyone, including themselves, give anything less than their standards.” She also wants them to learn how to forgive themselves saying that women tend to do this. “I think too often, women beat themselves up over mistakes they’ve made, but I hold it to be true that mistakes do not define you. It’s how you recover from those mistakes that define your character.”

In her free time, she loves to tend to her plants and explained that it’s actually a family activity. “When I think “plants,” I think about my grandmother. She had an ivy plant that spanned across the room and I thought I was magnificent. My sister actually still has a piece of that 30+ year old ivy. And my mother has houseplants. It really is a family affair.” Tending to her plants is so therapeutic and comforting to her, she’s taken on the challenge of trying to grow vegetables and herbs! “I find it to be even more rewarding. You actually get to harvest and reap the fruits of your labor and love.”

Since creating Sister is Fine, she has said that her mental health has blossomed since then. “Back then, I was extremely focused on everyone else's expectations of me and their happiness. Now, I am focused more on my own feelings. I have to be aware of when I feel myself falling into a dark space and I have to do what I can to correct it. Life is no good if you're busy living it for someone else.” Her advice for those struggling with mental health right now “Breathe and do whatever you have to do in order to decompress. I suffer from anxiety and one thing that helped to get it under control was deep belly breathing. I still practice it when needed. Also, go to therapy, if you can.” And if you don’t have health insurance or severe depression, she encourages you to do research into your local community’s health services. Jamilah also wants to urge people to be careful who surrounds you “Are they uplifting us and encouraging us to seek help, if needed. Are they genuinely wanting to see us win? Or are they negative and always looking for an opportunity to put us down? I am a firm believer in boundaries and I would rather see someone set them in order to protect their peace of mind.”

2. Kat Cuthbert, @bookofnotes

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kat Cuthbert (@booksofnotes) on

Kat runs Books of Notes on Instagram, a page that her bio describes as “Planning & wellbeing for people whose life path looks like a messy bag of strawberry laces.” She’s been running the page for five years after losing her job. “At the time, it was horrible, but now I can see that I still had this drive to keep going under it all, even though the steps were tiny.” The main things promoted there are self care and journaling, something Kat has been doing for a while. “I first kept one when I was about 8 or 9 — I’d found a really kitsch, Victoriana-style journal, with a picture of a little girl on the front and snippets from old poems on the pages inside, and I wrote about what me and my little sister got up to at my Grandparents’, that kind of thing.” It wasn’t until she was around twelve that she started taking journaling seriously “Writing felt like this quiet, secret place I had to process what was going on around me, somewhere I could be myself and talk endlessly about boys (spoiler alert, turns out I’m queer as heck). And it just became such an integral part of my life, getting to the end of the day and writing while sat on my bed, listening to terrible pop-punk.”

She also creates little notes to promote self care and make others smile on the page. One of her favorite notes she wrote was from December of last year "It’s okay if the best you did this year is survive.” 

“By my standards, it had been a pretty good year, but I know I’ve done a lot of work on self-acceptance and self-compassion and that it’s not as easy for other people to see their achievements (or not) through the same lens. For years I struggled with it myself, and I wanted some way to acknowledge that even if the year had been tough, even if you’d not reached goals you’d hoped you would or things hadn’t gone as planned, that it’s okay. It’s okay. You made it to the end, you know?” According to Kat, we don’t give ourselves credit for what we do and writing that note felt validating to her past self, her current self and to the community as well.

Books of Notes has garnered a lot of conversations but Kat says the most profound moments that happen are the small ones. “Something I’ve been enjoying recently is asking the community to write a certain phrase in the comment section - a recent one was “I am enough” - and it’s really wonderful to see both the difficulty people have writing something like that and how powerful it feels when they actually do. Just allowing the possibility that it might be true by writing it in a comment section on some internet stranger's Instagram can have an impact, and I'm grateful to each and every person I chat to for trusting me with their thoughts.”

Five years ago around the time Kat lost her job, she started seeing the first signs of mental illness and physical disabilities but since then, she’s learned to live with and embrace herself. “The mountain back to ‘well’ felt insurmountable, and I’ve since discovered that ‘well’ isn’t my aim anyway. It is possible to live a good, happy, fulfilling life with mental illness, neurodivergence and disability, and that’s where I’m at. You get good at working with the curve-balls life throws at you!” She says when she encounters someone who also has mental illness, she feels sad for them having to deal with it but is compassionate and can connect with them. “Mental illness is something so individual and I can never fully understand what someone else is dealing with, but I know when I’m at my worst, just knowing that someone else ‘gets it’ on some level can be so comforting. I’m always so proud when I see people share that they’ve reached out for help, or are trying something new to care for themselves because I know how tough that is.”

And for anyone who wants to start journaling during this weird time, she has this to say. “Start small. Find a prompt you like and spend two minutes writing about it. Use the notes app on your phone to record a thought or two over the day. My favorite easy way to begin journaling is using a “Good Sh*t” log - it’s like a gratitude log, but without the pressure to feel grateful, because sometimes, when life is hard, I don’t feel grateful that the best I managed to do was brush my teeth, but that sh*t still needs celebrating. So, at the end of each day, write down three things that were good about your day. Took a shower? Write it down. Went for a walk and saw something interesting? Into the Good Sh*t log it goes. Celebrate them, even if gratitude feels a bit… much.”

3. Alexandra Elle, @alex_elle

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by alexandra elle (@alex_elle) on

Alex Elle has many projects under her sleeve, all which have to do with mental health and wellness. Her fourth book, After The Rain, is releasing October 13th and is a collection of essays that are lessons of her life as well as affirmations and meditations that she’s learned along the way that she thinks will be a “relatable resource for readers.” She also has a podcast Hey, Girl that was “created with sisterhood and storytelling in mind.” She sits down with women who’ve inspired her and talks about things from motherhood, loss, love, separation, marriage family and friendship. She hopes the podcast will inspire others as well to come together. “Being able to sit down with other women and hear their stories and be in a moment of community and sisterhood and storytelling with them is just amazing. I love that part of the show and to be able to hear both different pathways and self care practices and how their businesses came to be or how their lives just came into full circle and fruition it really ignites a fire in me and I hope whoever listens to this show takes away something that is rooted in community and comradery.” When I asked what her favorite episode was, she couldn’t pick! “Really every single episode holds a super super safe and special place in my heart. I really love them all so I encourage everyone to go and just pick one because they are truly all just magical in their own right.” She also runs an Instagram where she writes sticky notes of snippets of pieces she’s written in either an essay or her journal. “They are short affirmations that I needed for the morning or needed for the day and I know that if I need it, someone else might.”

Alex also has an extremely supportive husband and 3 daughters, the oldest being 12 and the youngest 9 months. When asked what lessons she hopes to teach them she said to be “their own greatest teacher” and “advocate for themselves.” “Standing alone is just as empowering as standing in community so I want them to be comfortable and confident in their ability to show themselves, be it with someone standing next to them or not.” Even with trying to keep 3 children entertained during these times, she is still able to keep up with her self care and praises her husband for helping her. “There have been days where I’ve slipped through the cracks but it’s really awesome to have the type of partner that I have who encourages me to you know just lean in to self care when I need to.” So what does self care look like to Alex? “Asking for help and naming what you need, relying on your community if you need that and that is self care too. I think a lot of folks don’t realize that self care is so much more than a face mask, a latte, a bath or a massage it’s also these other intangible things that we sometimes forget to lean on.”

Alex’s advice if you’re struggling right now? “Ask for help and lean on the people that you love and don’t be afraid to name what you need and also accept when people show up. I know that can be really challenging to accept help and to open up in these really vulnerable ways, but as someone whose been there and someone whose struggled with depression and anxiety on multiple different levels, I think being able to say I need help is wonderful and can really kinda take the weight off of feeling like we have to do it alone. That help can look like therapy that help can look like a bunch of different things and I just encourage people to do what feels good for them and their lives and their bodies.”

4. Ashley Carmenatty, @ashleyjacklyn.c

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ashley J Carmenatty Bonilla🇵🇷 (@ashleyjacklyn.c) on

Ashley is a photographer based in New Jersey and first created her account when Instagram was a new platform at first with the intention to post old photos, until it became more. “It just slowly kind of transformed into a place where I talked about my mental health, because it was a part of my life and it was a transition that I was going through that I was doing by myself. So it was more like, it was going to be my memory book of the journey of having a mental illness and living my life while trying to heal and grow and learn everything I can. So then it just became very real life to me and very everyday normal for me to just post about it.” Ashley found out she had generalized anxiety disorder and depression from research on the computer and then was diagnosed by a doctor when she was old enough to go herself since her community has a stigma around mental health. “Culturally it's looked down upon in our communities to even seek help because our families think it's creating drama and people will talk and that's something you don't want to happen. The community has had people talking about your families because it's like a social witch hunt.” She went on to say "Since a lot of Spanish people are very religious, they would also say, ‘you just pray about it’ or ‘you go to church and you'll be healed.’ The thing is that's not how it works.”

Photography has always been a passion for Ashley and she even has made it her job by creating her own business, which was greatly affected by COVID but is doing fine now. She’s even done multiple mental health picture projects but told me about the one she did for Keds called Clouded Thoughts. She created a cloud out of stuffing and interviewed anyone who was “connected to mental health.” The cloud gave them anonymity and if they felt confident to show their face at the end of the interview, she would slowly show their face. “I definitely do a lot of personal projects that are geared towards mental health because it's my life. It's important that we create a bridge to connect other people to understand mental health and what other way than with art? I feel like that's something that pulls the neurotypical and mentally ill people can come together and understand.” She even spoke on some of the mental health portrayals she’s seen in art and movies “I wanted to flip the switch and show people that you're still able to live a beautiful normal life. I also had a mental illness and we're not murderers and we're not killers. We're very sensitive people and care a lot for other people too. It's just very weird to see how Hollywood kind of like stigmatizes mental illness in a way that’s like, ‘Oh, this is love. Oh, this is normal.’ In reality, you can't do that. It's a bit dangerous.”

During COVID she said in the beginning she didn’t make a big deal about it but once we were in quarantine, it started to hit her. “I think I cried maybe once or twice, just because the news was so negative and I'm a very sensitive person. It just made me sad for the world. Other than that, I was like, this is kind of normal for me. This is, having a mental illness. I'm always kind of fearful of life and I'm at home most of the time.” Once her rituals were messed up, she started finding new projects to do. “I painted a lot, did self-portraits and photo competitions online where you would edit other photographers' photos. I just focused on learning photography a lot more. I made sure I was talking to my friends just to keep myself busy. After a while, around the middle of April, I felt like I was crashing because I was just doing way too much stuff. I didn't realize it was me trying to avoid reality. So when I started to slow down, I just started looking to nature more, reading more and just surrounding myself with people and my dogs.” She also wants people to know that this quarantine is what mental illness is like and hopes the experience makes people more empathetic for those who have to go through this. “We're all going through it together: what you're feeling right now, it's what people with mental illness feel like all the time. We always feel very isolated and othered. If we can't connect with society, people look at us differently. So when COVID happened people who normally stayed at home were like, this is fine. Then you had other people who would go out all the time like, how do people do this?” 

She also feels that those living alone during quarantine will develop some type of mental illness when we come out of quarantine. “I think the body and the mind are so powerful that we adapt to it and we don't really realize it. But that's also dangerous at the same time, because I think a lot of people are going to come out of this with maybe some type of depression or anxiety because other people were lucky like me to have a fiance to be with during quarantine. There were a lot of other people who were lonely during this time. And loneliness is a very, scary and sad feeling.” She hopes that we can stop visually connecting people with mental illness. “When people look at me, I still get people to this day ‘well, you don't look mentally ill’ or ‘you seem perfectly fine you're able to communicate and you're not like manic.’ The truth is that doesn't mean I'm any less mentally ill, I just know how to take care of myself.” Through this judgemental outlook, she’s become an advocate for herself. “I have a job, a family, I'm in my own apartment. I have things that people said, people with mental illnesses would never have or never be able to achieve. It's important we show other people that you can still live life with a mental illness and your life can still be beautiful.” 

She also wants to destroy the stigma around mental health in general. “When people realize that we are our brains in a sense so if your heart and your lungs can get sick, your brain also can get sick.” She says that in order to stop the stigma, we have to create a new normal. “We need to create a new normal and have mental health in that new normal as if it's like Starbucks. As if it's like a Dunkin donuts. These talks need to be more prevailing oh, hey, how are you today? Are you feeling good mentally? You know, it's rather than what clothes are you buying?” She believes that generation Z and late millennials can be the change we need. “ Obviously, those are just hopes and dreams, but I do believe that with this new generation, generation Z, us millennials as well, I think we are making the changes necessary. This is our world. We're doing whatever we can to make sure that people are heard, seen, and people are protected. Generation Z is very vocal. It's important that we respect them for them trying to. Kudos to millennials and generation Z for doing the really complicated and hard things. It's really unfortunate to see. And I hope that the older generations pay attention and realize the ways that they were living isn't working.”

Ashley has tried to fight the stigma of mental health in the Latin community by recently creating a hashtag she uses on her posts #latinanxietywarrior. “When I started this journey, I was looking at hashtags and I felt like there was a community of mental health advocacy on Instagram. It wasn't culturally connecting with me as someone who has a Spanish background. I felt like I was still not connecting with people in that community because they couldn't really understand why it wasn't easy for me to explain to my family what was wrong with me or just go to a therapist and try to figure things out that way.” She went on to say “I use a hashtag to show them that it's possible for us to live our lives in a healthy, happy way with mental illness. It's important for us to have that type of community because there barely is any. I mean, thankfully now it's becoming bigger.” So what’s next in her mental health journey? “I've been doing this without medication. I tried, but a lot of them tend to not work for me. They were detrimental to my physical health and I would get really sick. So now it's just me learning how to take care of myself. Meditating more and just focusing on the things that make me more anxious, my triggers and things like that. I've been doing it already, but now that I'm older, I'm more aware of what bothers me and when I'm gonna have an attack. It's definitely just being true to myself and keep doing what I've been doing but also know that if I can't handle it, it's okay to seek out support. Even if that means having to try to go back on medication.” She says if you need medication to take it. “There’s nothing wrong with that. They tell you if you meditate or do yoga, you'll be healed. The truth is, it might help a bit for your brain to be a bit more relaxed and ease, but mental illness is a chemical imbalance; it's something in our brain that's not firing off properly. It's not something we can control. There are many things you can do journaling, yoga, meditating. For me, I love to dance. I'm a very fast paced type of person. So dancing and singing helps relieve stress for me. That doesn't mean it's the only answer. These are tools for us to use, to try to help make our mental health journey a bit easier. They're not necessarily the answers. What mental illness is, it's just a lot of adrenaline in our bodies and we don't know how to control it at that moment because it just kind of pops up out of nowhere. We're relaxing and now all of a sudden it's like, whoa, we've got all this energy. How do we deal with it? I know some people who breathe deeply, meditate, do yoga, and then there's me dancing around my apartment trying to calm myself down and get rid of all that energy.”

Her advice to Latin women struggling right now? “Don't let what your families are telling you be your only answers. When I was younger, my family said I was an attention seeker. They brought me to the doctor one time and the doctor said I was a hypochondriac. Don't let people make you feel bad for feeling the way that you are, especially family, because family will be like, oh no, you're fine, sad or whatever. You know, your body, soul and your mind more than anybody else does. Pay attention to your patterns, moods and your emotions. And if you truly feel something might not be right then seek help when possible. I know sometimes it's not easy and it's terrifying to seek help because then a whole new world opens up a whole new door, trials and triumphs, but I would say don't give up on yourself and keep pushing to find out what's going on. Take care of yourself because though we love our families and our friends, at the end of the day, we're all we have. It's important that we take care of ourselves and pay attention to what's going on within ourselves. If there's something wrong, then it's okay that there's something wrong. Don't let anybody make you feel like it's not okay. This is the time even for older generations. It's important that we let them talk about their mental health too, because they never had that chance. This time period is for all of us. Just speak up even if you're shaking and you're afraid to speak up.”

5. Emily Coxhead, @emilycoxhead

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Happy News (@thehappynewspaper) on

Emily lives in the United Kingdom and is responsible for delivering her good news newspaper known as, The Happy News. She started the newspaper after noticing the negative effect the news and social media had on her. “I didn’t really know what I was doing but I realised I didn’t have much to lose at that point, as well as focusing on my other work I wanted to create a platform to share some of the good things happening in the world.” The Happy News focuses on stories and good news from around the globe to the people who need a little bit of happiness. When The Happy News first started, Emily was one of those people who needed a little bit of happiness. “To be honest, that was one of the main reasons for starting it, to help me through a very dark time, it was so important and necessary during that time for me to focus on the positives and share them with others. When it felt like the whole world around me, including my own little world was falling apart, The Happy News was like a magic bubble of hope and sunshine… It’s amazing that that same effect has now been had on far more people than I can comprehend.” 

Since then, The Happy News has grown so much, Emily now ships it to 33 other countries! She also has a book coming out You Are Incredible Just As You Are: How to Embrace Your Perfectly Imperfect Self all focused on the bright side of all of us. “It’s a little reminder that we’re all human, making things up as we go along – and actually we’re doing a pretty good job!” She also talks “about embracing failure and finding people who make you feel happy. My hope is that it will help those reading it feel more confident and less anxious about what other people think. When you embrace your insecurities and everything that makes you unique, you’ll realize that the only person you need to be is your perfectly imperfect self.” Her book releases September 3rd.

So what does the future look like for The Happy News? Emily is not sure but she has embraced the attention it has garnered in the last couple of years. She does have some big goals for The Happy News she’d like to see happen. “I’d love more than anything to get The Happy News into schools somehow. Hopefully more books! And more focus on the ethos and values of the business.” She explained “It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of growing a business like this but it’s important to step back at times and focus on what really matters and what you want to reflect through the brand/business, it’s all a huge learning curve with a heap of mistakes probably at times but always trying to learn and grow.” 

Emily also thinks that positive news is needed a lot nowadays. “Focusing on the good isn’t about ignoring the bad or pretending that those things aren’t happening it just restores your faith in humanity and the world when you hear about some of the positive things happening that we wouldn’t normally hear about.” She thinks by practicing this, you will gain a positive mindset and be inspired to do more good. Her advice for those struggling right now? “Understand it’s ok to not be happy all of the time, in fact it’s impossible! We are human after all. Recognize when you’re feeling sad, angry, confused, anxious or absolutely any other emotion and don’t try to just shut it down, try to understand where that feeling is coming from. I find writing stuff down really helps, even if it’s on a scrap piece of paper or in the notes in my phone, just getting it out of your head can feel like a real weight has been lifted. You’re doing great, don’t ever think otherwise!”

6. Kerra and Faith Henke, @kerrahenke

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by faith & kerra (@artsyaffirmations) on

Kerra and Faith Henke are young but have a lot going for them! They run an Etsy shop called Artsy Affirmations that has some pretty sharable designs. “We dreamed up Artsy Affirmations the summer that Kerra graduated from college and I (Faith) started my first semester. Kerra’s degree is in Psychology and mine is in Graphic Design, and we wanted something that we could do together that would combine both of our interests, but I don’t think we ever expected it would turn into what it has!” Since then, both Faith and Kerra have graduated college, Faith recently being part of the Class of 2020. “It was definitely a weird way to end my college experience, because I left for spring break expecting to come back a week later and see my friends, but instead had to finish my semester via Zoom. Because of COVID the actual graduation ceremony got pushed back, but I was still able to celebrate with my family and (virtually) with my school friends. I’m a pretty low-key person, and all I really wanted anyway was some cake and takeout, so it turned out to still be a fun day even though I wasn’t able to walk!”

Since starting their own business, Kerra and Faith have been living the WFH life and following in their parents footsteps since they live the WFH life as well. “Honestly, we’re both major homebodies. Growing up, our parents typically had work-from-home jobs, so I don’t think either of us were ever super stoked about the classic 9-5, cubicle, potentially soul-crushing jobs that usually await college graduates. Sometimes, we feel like Artsy Affirmations fell into our laps.”

Since art has always been a passion of theirs, they decided to start Artsy Affirmations after it started to garner some attention on social media. “We’ve always loved creating our own wall art, and before Artsy Affirmations was born, we would sometimes post pictures of our designs on Twitter. People started asking if they could buy copies of what we were making and I think one day it just clicked that people liked what we were coming up with, and we might be able to turn our hobbies into a business.” How they make their art together, that’s where the Artsy Affirmation magic comes into play. “We like to draw from personal experiences when we make our art, so typically what we create is just how we’re feeling that week. On weeks when I’m feeling anxious I’ll usually create pieces about calming down and centering oneself, and on weeks when I’m feeling especially happy I’ll likely create prints that are more bright and positivity-centered. Passion shows through in art, so we try to make sure that we actually care and relate to what we create, because if we don’t care about it why should someone else?” They also said some of their best ideas start as ‘“hey wouldn’t it be cool if…’ and then grew from there.”

Once the business started gaining attention, they saw an amazing opportunity ahead of them. “It’s crazy- still crazy honestly! I (Faith) remember the first time our work got featured by a bigger account, I was out getting a pedicure with my mom and I turned to her and then our pedicurists and was like “look LOOK!”. I think I was shaking a little bit and checking our engagements for the rest of the day. It’s been really exciting to watch Artsy Affirmations grow into what it is today, and to see that a lot of our feelings and concerns are universal! I think a lot of times we get stuck in our own heads and think that what we’re alone in our challenges, so it’s been neat to watch and see a community grow from shared experiences and mutual fears.”

Since COVID, they’ve been trying to keep things positive on their page, but like everyone else, they have their days. “Some days it’s been hard to promote mental wellness and positivity when we know that most of our friends (and us!) are feeling the strains of having to stay home and isolated for so long. We try to keep it real online, and have tried our best to let people know that it’s okay to feel disappointed and a little sad right now. We’re all mourning the loss of normalcy, but it’s important to remember that it won’t be like this forever. One thing we’ve been encouraging a lot recently is finding time to do things you enjoy, whether that be starting a new craft or rewatching a favorite TV show, because it’s important to bring a bit of normalcy and peace back into everyday life.” They’ve even had to give up their concert lineup ever since this has started. “We love concerts and had quite a few lined up for this year, so it was disappointing hearing that they’d all need to be rescheduled. It’s definitely a little heartbreaking to not have big things to look forward to throughout the year, but if us missing out on a night of Niall Horan keeps everyone’s grandmas alive then we’re willing to make the sacrifice.”

Their advice for everyone struggling right now? “One thing we both struggled with a little bit as we graduated and had to shift into a different season of life was answering the big “what do you want to do with your life?” question. This is an overwhelming and honestly probably unanswerable question! I don’t think anyone can predict exactly how their life will shake out, and sometimes that can create anxiety. Our advice? Don’t be afraid to dive into something before you have it fully mapped out! There is so much time to try (and fail!) at lots of things. So just start with something and see what happens. The longer we let ourselves succumb to decision paralysis as we try to figure out the perfect next step, the harder it can be to get moving. So let yourself be an imperfect, messy, learning-as-you-go human. Give yourself the grace to make mistakes and change your mind. Life gets a whole lot easier when you’re able to let go of the idea that you have to know everything right now and make the perfect decision right now. You don’t need to. What you do need to do is keep moving forward.”

7. Kat and Aimee, @thepsycologysisters

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Psychology Sisters Podcast (@thepsychologysisters) on

Kat and Aimee are practicing clinicians who happen to run a unique podcast in their free time, The Psychology Sisters. “I remember Kat sending me a message one afternoon asking if I wanted to start a podcast with her, I thought ‘why not?!.’ From there we worked together and developed this idea of providing psychological + science-based information that was relatable and easy to digest. We both felt like there were a lot of podcasts out there that either lacked the evidence-based perspective or when we did find science-based podcasts, they were so information dense, it became difficult to tune in.” Their goal for creating this podcast was to create a casual and relatable podcast that discussed the psychology and broke the stigma behind issues such as mental health and relationships. They also get feedback from their listeners who range from 16 to 30, about their own stories and experiences. “Creating a platform that is safe, secure + nonjudgmental for people to hear that no matter what they are struggling with, they are not alone + there is support available has always been a motivating factor for us.”

I asked Kat how she’s been taking care of herself during COVID and she said as much as she misses her family and friends, she’s been trying to make the most of it. “I have been incorporating mindfulness in the form of yoga and meditation to keep on top of my mental health and feelings of isolation.  I am very vigilant of my triggers of anxiety and stress, and have been very mindful to practice self-care when I feel those waves of anxiety coming on. Also lots of afternoon walks to ‘switch off’ at the end of the work day, and I have been listening to a relaxation music playlist on Spotify on nights I struggle to sleep, which has been a godsend!” Aimee told me that taking a nature walk is what she does for self care and is one of her favorite things to do when she gets overwhelmed. She also told me that one of the most important and overlooked thing in self care are boundaries. “When we set boundaries, we are prioritizing self - you are recognizing what you need and acting to meet that need. Boundaries assist with stress management, caring for your physical well-being, and maintaining healthy relationships. For example, saying “no” to a social invitation because you are overtired is respecting your need for rest.” You heard it here! Cancel that invite if you don’t feel like getting off the couch, it’s a form of self care!

Kat and Aimee may also be psychologists but when I asked if they think more mental health professionals should give mental health advice on social platforms, Aimee had this to say. “I think the answer will differ from clinician to clinician. On one hand, social media provides greater access to a broader community and can be beneficial in myriad ways. In contrast, there are many challenges, especially for practicing clinicians like Kat and I, upholding a code of ethics and maintaining a balance between personal and professional social media presences. There are ethical issues that arise on social media that we often must take into consideration. Social media provides us with great opportunities to reach people who for various reasons, do not have access to psychological information and are not sure where to start in getting support. As mental health professionals navigating social media and having only the best intentions can still present many challenges, I would respect the personal decision of any professional working in the field not to offer advice on social media based on these complexities.” 

So to finish it off, Kat has some advice to those who are struggling right now. “I think the stress/ anxiety/ discomfort/ confusion/ sadness/ rumination/ isolation we are all experiencing is a completely normal and valid reaction to what’s occurring in the world at the moment. The number one rule when we talk to clients who are struggling at this time, is remembering that voice of self-compassionate and self-kindness. The voice that sounds similar to how your best friend would talk to you. Acknowledging that whatever you’re feeling is valid, and there’s nothing wrong with you or different about you for those emotions you are experiencing.  It’s also important to acknowledge that you’re not alone, and reaching out for your support network can be so beneficial in times of uncertainty. It can be hard to reach out for support, particularly if you don’t like to ask for help or you tend to withdraw in situations like this, but sitting with that uncomfortableness and reaching out for your best friend, mum, dad, sister, cousin etc if you need and letting them know how you’re going. Even if it’s just a quick catch up! As humans we crave connection and our serotonin spikes when we are engaging with others, and this has a positive impact on our moods.  If you feel you can’t talk to your support network then a trained professional will be able to provide a non-judgemental space to support you.”

And for the college kids or anyone in their 20’s, Kat has this advice for you. “College (or University as well call it in Australia) years are some of the most pivotal years of our lives. It’s also a time when students are away from home a lot more and away from the safety net of their families and friends. For a lot of people,  20’s can sometimes feel quite lonely and confusing. Coupled with a pandemic it’s  been a really trying year! However as humans, we are amazing at adapting to new environments and situations. By now we have probably all found things that have helped us through the pandemic, whether it be lots of Netflix, listening to podcasts, finding creative ways to exercise, finding fun hobbies you can do at home, ticking off that thing you’ve had on your to-do list, rediscovering music you used to love or reconnecting and spending quality time with those around you. I have noticed that my clients and friends and family have been so inventive and creative at finding ways to fill their cups, such as Zoom parties, board game nights, date nights at home, playing with their children, painting, gardening etc. Our brain loves to be challenged, so if we focus on the ‘how can I make today fun/ engaging?’ or ‘how can I look after myself today?’ instead of the  ‘I wish I could go back to how it was’ self-talk, then I promise you your brain will want to find you an answer. We also recommend seeking support from a college counselor, psychologist or any trained mental health professional if there is anyone struggling at the moment. It can be confronting seeing someone for the first time, but it’s a good time to reach out even if just for a few sessions to check-in. We promise you it’s not as daunting as you might think!”

Wherever you are in your mental health journey, I hope you’re in a good place. Please follow some of these amazing women’s projects and socials because they truly are doing their best during these trying times. We all are. Also if you aren’t yet, please follow me on instagram @notoriousnicolaaa. Stay safe and stay calm. Breathe and remember that these are tough times and you’re not going through it alone. You can and will get through this.