I have often wondered why people celebrated their 40th as a milestone birthday. It was only after I was on the other side of this day could I understand why – not only does your 40th birthday celebrate the fact that you are getting older and wiser, but it also whispers that change is coming! Not just physically, but emotionally as well.
Around this time, I started experiencing mental strain and excessive worry that led to changes in my sleep patterns. Consequently, I was tired and cranky. I attributed it to a significant change that had occurred in my personal life. Even after things calmed down on that front, I still did not feel like myself. I felt as though a new person was living in my body, and each day felt like a chore.
The only thing that kept me going during this time was my work! I was laser focused when it came to work each day. Cisco became my validation and, in some ways, my salvation that the person I knew was still in there.
One day, while verifying my benefits enrollment, I came across Cisco’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). My curiosity was piqued, and I called the number. When a kind lady picked up on the other end of the line, I broke down. I could not believe myself. I was pouring out my heart out to a stranger! She was extremely patient, and after I calmed down, she spoke very reassuringly that everything would be okay. I was not alone, and help was available.
As a Portfolio and Program Manager, I am resourceful and task oriented. In retrospect, I feel that it was my inherent action-oriented nature, coupled with the excellent company culture at Cisco, that drove me to reach out that day. Along with the EAP, I also tapped into Vida Health, another Cisco resource for employees that provides a virtual health coach.
Today, I feel like I have come a long way towards making progress from where I was couple of months ago. There is no short cut, no silver bullet, no instant coffee. The journey towards emotional, mental, and overall health is a gradual one, but it is possible, and you will become stronger because of it.
Each journey is personal, but here are a few tips I learned along the way:
1. Get help! Get support! Talk to someone – Whether it is a professional or someone you know personally who will raise your spirits, find someone to talk with – this is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. It is okay, and even necessary to ask for help.
2. Have compassion for yourself – In a society obsessed with perfection, we become too hard on ourselves. We push ourselves to be better, faster – perfect! Remember, we are all human. Be compassionate with yourself, always.
3. Meditate – Meditation can help to clear our mind, provide inner strength and keep a balanced perspective. Just a few minutes of meditation when you are struggling can calm your mind, organize your thoughts, and help you tackle tasks with confidence!
4. Exercise – Other than the immense health benefits, exercise reduces stressors on the body. It also releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. Our body, mind, and breath are all interconnected and influence each other. A little movement each day to elevate our heart rates can go a long way.
5. Nourishment – There’s plenty of research extolling the benefits of eating a healthy diet that includes fresh foods, whole grains, healthy fats, etc. Whereas, eating a diet high in fat, sugar, and processed foods has been linked to boosting inflammation. Love yourself, eat healthy and keep your brain healthy!
Life is a roller coaster, especially in the year 2020. Where there is joy, sunshine, happiness, and peace, there will also be sadness, pain, grief, and storms along the way. But there is support out there for you should you need it – we are all in this together.
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