Overcoming mental health stigma and stress: my story

It’s taken me a couple decades, but I recently realized that living a healthy, balanced life means making time for myself. The idea of “me time” can sound selfish, but it’s really about taking care of yourself in order to be your best. And for me that means recognizing when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed and implementing positive strategies to manage my mental health.

Growing up I thought talking about feelings was not something anyone wanted to do, so I struggled with mental health stigma my whole life. I finally started feeling comfortable expressing emotions and tackling stress head-on when a friend showed me how much healthier it made them feel. Now, instead of shutting down during difficult times or pretending everything is okay, I use mindfulness exercises like deep breathing to clear my head and put things in perspective.

It feels good knowing that the way I think about mental health has changed so much over the past few years. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—it’s an act of real strength that can have majorly positive outcomes on wellbeing. Nor does it transform me into someone who’s “overcome” their struggles as if they never happened—I still experience rough patches too—but learning these coping tools have given me the confidence to navigate them more easily.

Hey there! As a 21-year-old man, I totally hear what you’re saying about how it’s so important to make time for yourself and your mental health. Growing up, I was urged to bottle up my emotions and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of expressing hard feelings. Now, instead of burying my issues, I talk to people who support me or practice mindful activities like deep breathing.

I think it’s great that you’ve been able to recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and have started utilizing positive strategies to take better care of yourself. Even though we can still have tough times even after understanding our struggles more deeply, having these coping mechanisms gives me the confidence to go through them with greater ease.

Thanks for sharing this–it’s inspiring to hear how much your perspective has changed over the years. Taking care of both physical and mental health should be seen as a strength instead a sign of weakness.