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Staying Connected While Struggling
Whenever I am struggling with my mental health, I often unintentionally withdraw from friends and family. It doesn't come from any ill will or carelessness on my part. Instead, it results from an internal battle involving intrusive and anxious thoughts. This constant overthinking can make even the simplest of interactions feel exhausting. For some people, sending a quick text or staying in touch might be second nature, but for me, especially during tough times, it can feel like an overwhelming task.
I deeply care about friends and family, and I want to check in once in a while to show them I'm thinking about them. For this reason, I'm taking some small steps to make sure I stay connected in a way that still prioritizes my mental health. One strategy I've adopted is setting reminders on my phone. When I receive a text message and don't have the immediate mental energy to respond, I set a reminder for later. This helps me remember to come back to it and reply when I'm feeling more capable and also reduces the pressure to respond immediately.
Another approach is calling them or asking if they are free to meet in person. Hearing their voices or seeing them face-to-face makes the interaction feel natural and helps me with anxious thoughts about conveying my thoughts accurately through text. I often do this with friends who make me feel safe and for which I don't need a lot of social battery. Even though it may require some extra effort and planning, these interactions always feel very nourishing and healing. Spending quality time with friends and family reminds me that I don't need to go through this journey alone.
When we are struggling, we may isolate ourselves because we have no mental energy left for interactions. However, this can make us feel lonely and discourage us from reaching out when we need support. We are inherently social beings, and social connections can have a positive impact on our overall mental health. It's about finding a balance that works for you, respecting your own boundaries and connecting with the people that make you feel safe. In this process, I've learned to give myself grace and have some alone time without completely isolating myself from others. If you notice you or a friend are becoming distant or withdrawing socially, check out these Conversation Starter tips on initiating conversations about mental health.
Valentina is a graduate from Western University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Resolution. Valentina has experience working with newcomer youth, helping them to develop essential skills, build resilience, and gain a sense of belonging. She believes that youth voices should be at the centre of the conversation and decision-making when it comes to mental health. In her free time, you’ll find her salsa dancing, painting, taking care of all her plants and re-watching her favourite comfort show, Friends.
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