Mantras for 2021: It’s OK to Not Be OK

It's OK to Not Be Ok

This week on the podcast I’m talking about mantras that can help us stay grounded, hopeful, and helpful during 20201. Because we’ve been living through a hard time that is not over yet, particularly in regard to the pandemic, I think we need to remind ourselves of the many tools we have that help us keep going and keep growing. Mantras are useful at any time, but when it feels like the path is uphill they’re even more helpful and sustaining. 

So this week I’ve got four mantras that I think are particularly relevant to this particular year of 2021. I’ll share one each day this week, except on Wednesday, when I’m interviewing Sonia Satra, a motivational speaker who teaches how important the words we say to ourselves are, AND shares the thing most people DON’T do when it comes to mantras, and how this one thing makes all the difference between something feeling hard, and something feeling easy. That’s coming up on Wednesday, which will be episode 369, so be sure to come back for that. Also for all you soap opera fans, Sonia was on “The Guiding Light” for 5 years, so you know I’m going to have to ask her about that, too. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

Before I share today’s mantra from 2021, let’s talk about what a mantra even freaking IS

The word mantra translates from Sanskit as ‘tool of the mind.’ It’s a word, sound, or phrase that you use to rein in your attention and to give you mental fortitude. You may hear ‘mantra’ and think it’s something spiritual or something to do with chanting, but really, it can be anything that’s meaningful to you. 

I’m guessing you already have some mantras even if you don’t recognize them as such. Things like “I’d lose my head if it weren’t screwed on” or “men are jerks” are both mantras–not particularly useful ones! It’s my hope that by listening to these episodes, you’ll find a mantra that inspires and sustains you, and helps you, and our country, get somewhere better. 

Today’s mantra for 2021 is…

It’s OK to not Be OK. I know this may not be a mantra that makes you want to go climb mountains, but you’re not going to be up for climbing any mountains if you’ve got a sprained ankle that you’re trying to ignore. 

I’m suggesting It’s OK to Not Be OK as the first mantra for 2021 because the truth is, we are living through a major mental health challenge. And we have such a mentality of suck it up and muscle through that we all need periodic reminders that, hey, it’s OK to not be OK. 

Honestly, feeling not OK is a very appropriate response to the chaos and uncertainty and stress and hardship of the last year. And yet we’ve all been expected to work as if everything were the same as it always was, to be productive, for frack’s sake, and in addition to all the stress, this disassociation is deeply upsetting to the mind. 

I know for me, I’ve been feeling very conflicted about not feeling OK

Because I am lucky and privileged to be doing basically fine. My husband and I are both working. We’re healthy. And while I’m reminding myself of our blessings every day, it’s still very hard. Kids are home so much, which makes me worry about their mental and physical health. Their education. Their social lives. Ugh, the screen time. And then there’s the headlines which have just been bananas and make you wonder about the level of decency in the world. 

The truth is, my mood is flat as a pancake.

Could be worse, definitely, but most certainly could be better. I wake up in the morning and throw on yesterday’s sweats and one of the same two sweaters I’ve been wearing constantly. Don’t want to leave the house. Don’t want to interact with my family–honestly, I hear footsteps on the stairs, meaning someone’s headed to the living room, where my desk is, and I’ve been thinking “Please don’t talk to me, please don’t talk to me.” All this together time with my family has been wonderful in many ways but also hard in that I need alone time to feel my best, and I’m just not getting it.

Also, it takes a lot of energy to regulate my responses in my conversations with the kids, which I’m now having all the time. They’ve both told me, “You always sound like you’re mad or bored.” I’m sharing this with you now because I think we’re just not talking about how hard even little daily things have been, and now that we’ve been in some form of quarantine for close to a year, are really starting to add up. If I’m feeling this way I know others are too, and I hope knowing that I’m right there with you is comforting. 

It’s OK to Not Be OK reminds you that there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re feeling stress, depression, anxiety or any of their symptoms.

We all need reminders! I certainly do. 

If you’ve been having trouble focusing, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, eating too much or eating too little, losing patience over the littlest things, not being able to get excited over anything–I personally felt pumped about the inauguration for about 10 minutes, and then I just felt so tired, because sometimes you don’t realize how much of a toll something’s been taking on you until it’s over– you’re not a bad person. 

It’s certainly not just you, and not just me

According to Mental Health America (MHA), however the number of people who have taken their online anxiety screens were up 93 percent, just from January through September of 2020 than in all of 2019. And the depression screening was up 62 percent. (If you’d like to take their mental health screening evaluations, take one of Mental Health America’s screeners–these are the same screeners you’d like get at your doctor’s office, and can be a good way to check in and see where you’re at and if it’s worth talking to a mental health professional or your doctor, both of whom can help you feel better!)

When you remind yourself It’s OK to Not Be OK, it kind of forces you to check in with yourself and see how you actually are–not how you wish you were or how you think you should be–but the truth. You check in within (which, hey, is another great mantra) and get real with yourself. And that is a beautiful thing. 

If you’re feeling like you might not be OK, please tell someone you trust

The rest of the mantras for this week can help. But I can tell you that I went on a dog walk with a friend the other day, even though I didn’t really feel like it, the dog still had to go out, and it was on that walk where I first said out-loud, I think I might be functionally depressed. And just having the moment of reflection and honesty helped so much. Sharing your experience with someone can make you feel seen and heard, and not just by the other person, but also by yourself.

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