Gomel: Rethinking strength

After nearly two years of living in a pandemic, many of us are feeling tired and stressed out. We have tried to maintain our lives through countless frustrating disruptions to our finances, activities, and natural support systems.

It’s a lot.

These pressures have added extra burdens to our natural tendency to push ourselves past the breaking point in order to accomplish a goal. As a result, we’re seeing rates of mental health and substance use disorders on the rise, and I don’t see this trend changing soon.

Yet, in recent weeks we have seen very high profile examples of very well-known figures very publicly prioritizing their mental health. In some cases they have been vilified in the media – both traditional and social – but in many others, they have been admired for their strength.

I’ve been encouraged by the refreshing voices of these celebrities and. It takes great courage and maturity to admit personal limitations to the world. I admire their wise choices, even if they lost some short-term material fame.

If you’re struggling to hang in there, and it’s getting harder to paste on a smiling face each day, please know that it is OK to not feel OK. It’s hard to admit that we’re not doing well, but that admission is often what allows us to find great inner strength. When we walk away from unrealistic expectations set by ourselves and others, we find freedom to heal and gain a new perspective on life.

I encourage you to learn from role models like these—athletes, celebrities, or even a friend—who prioritize self-care. None of us is a super-human, so pay attention to your physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. For a quick self-evaluation, take a break if you find you are consistently hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or stressed.

And, don’t travel life alone. Find “fans in the stands” who will cheer you on your journey, and connect with mentors who can coach you.

Life’s waiting.

–David Gomel, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Rosecrance Health Network