On Thursday 10 October, the world united as one to celebrate World Mental Health Day, aimed at promoting a healthy narrative around the topic whilst breaking the current stigma surrounding mental illness. Celebrities such as Bella Hadid took to social media to voice their own battles with mental health, offering support for those who are struggling in a heartwarming reminder that you are not alone in your fight.
It is almost inevitable that we may all struggle with our mental health at some point in our lives. Whether it be work stress, anxiety, or depression after the loss of a loved one, our mental health is something that we should all taking care of, just like our physical health.
BAZAAR asked four influential women based in the Middle Eastern wellness industry to write letters to their younger selves, telling them everything they'd wish they'd known about mental health whilst growing up.
To my younger self,
Mental health is all about taking time to care for your mind, body and soul. When you give yourself little moments throughout the day to just be, everything feels more intentional…
There’s nothing more empowering than waking up to a fresh start, every day. Meditation is one of the best practices for finding peace. Rest in the quiet spaces between your thoughts and connect with the calming energy of your consciousness. Make this your ritual, and the result will be magic.
Practice gratitude. You are a daughter of destiny… when you focus your energy on the good, you become a magnet for miracles. Count your blessings and be thankful for the life you’ve been given. If negativity rises, breathe easy and just let it go. Gratitude is the best medicine for any problem, big or small.
Create clear intentions. Write down everything and visualize your dreams. When you’re specific about your desires, you realize how incredible the power of manifestation is. Feed your mind with positive expectations and fill your life with unforgettable experiences. Rise with the sun and stroll under the stars.
Never forget, your vibe attracts your tribe. Surround yourself with souls that support you through the highs and the lows. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love most, and of course, go a little wild. Whether you cruise the coast or have a night out...enjoy it. Days like these will make the best stories later.
Embrace everything that lights you up. When you give yourself a chance to explore different methods of finding peace, you manifest a deeper sense of self-love within. You've always been a gemstone girl. Minerals of the earth have a certain way of bringing you balance when you need it most. Keep exploring this love, and one day you'll get to share it with the world.
Love you always,
To my younger self,
You’re nestled between bookshelves in the library — a place you turn to so often for refuge hiding from those picking on you— as you devour one book after another. Little do you know, this coping mechanism will spark a lifelong love interest with words. You’ll make a career out of it and feel so grateful to do this every day! You don’t realize your resilience and strength at the moment, but these attributes will get you through some tough moments later in life. Remind yourself regularly to be kinder to yourself. It’ll help you cope with your anxiety and provide you respite during stressful times.
Mental health is a term and concept you’re not quite familiar with yet, but you recognize when you aren’t feeling too great. In those moments, instead of slinking away, I’d encourage you to take simple steps such as going for a walk, getting some exercise or keeping a journal. Once you’re older, the journal will help you look back and see just how much you’ve evolved as a person. Make use of counseling resources at school; they’re there for your benefit. You might feel alone at the moment, but I want you to know that your family and friends will be your biggest cheerleaders and lifelong supporters.
You often wonder how people are so outgoing and confident: how do you become like that? You probably won’t believe me when I tell you that one day you’ll be interacting with world leaders, or hosting in front of the camera or moderating panels in front of hundreds of people. Find ways to acknowledge your achievements, no matter how big or small. These will help build your confidence and make you believe in yourself as you pursue your dreams. One day, you will live in New York City!
There is strength in vulnerability and in speaking out. These vulnerable moments will make you a more empathetic person — a skill that’ll serve you well in life.
Embrace yourself wholly. You’ve got this.
Nawal El Masri
Dear Beautiful Nawal,
Today is your born day and I feel it is my duty to dispense this advice which has no bases and may or may not be reliable and is merely based on my own experience.
As soon as you open your eyes I want you to know that your parents never received a letter like this so they don’t know better. The way we are raised and the people we are surrounded by play a huge role on the person we will become so keep that in mind when you look at people who are older than you, be more conscious of their actions and think twice before you call someone your idol.
Always remember that we all came in this life the same way and we will all go out the same way that leaves us to understand that between life and death we are also the same beings, we hold the same powers inside of us. It is the choices we take that make us different. That being said, don’t feel obliged to feel less of yourself to make someone else feel better. Don’t ever dim your light to shine someone else, don’t ever tie your tongue or be less of you.
It may result in suppression which will later in time catch up to you in explosions. Being empathetic and observing is one great thing but acting upon it and allowing it to get to you is another. Keep rising with all your strength and will power. Don’t feel bad for being beautiful and you! You got this!
Love yourself. Unconditionally, consistently and above all else love and listen to yourself. Stay away from damaged souls and remember you can’t fix or heal anyone. People will only heal when they choose to, you may plant the seed but then you must leave or else you will die waiting for the seed to grow.
Count your blessings every morning, every day and every night, count your blessings. Family laughter, family love, family hugs and the right bunch of friends are true blessings.
For those who hurt you look past them and into their pains understand that most people who hurt are internally in pain and it is not a personal matter towards you rather lack of self-love for their own being and unresolved issues. Let it go and grow past it.
Kill your ego, always apologize when you are in the wrong and learn from your mistakes for a better you.
Understanding the above is crucial to be able to have a life that is mentally balanced. Being mentally unbalanced will result in confusion, anxiousness, sadness and a spiral of illnesses. Unhappy souls and low vibrations are contagious. Be aware of your own high and ride that wave even if no one wants to join you. That is the only path that will take you to the higher and better version of yourself.
The last thing I would like to tell you is to indulge and eat but please eat with purpose. I can’t stress enough on how much food plays a role in your mood, mental and physical wellbeing. Exercise and sweat every day. And lest I not forget, please drink water you dry noodle, I love you, always and forever.
H.H. Sayyida Basma Al Said
Facebook/Official Sayyida Basma Al-said
How are you? How are you doing?
So I haven’t written you a letter in a while, I do want to tell you something that I’ve learnt within these years.
So remember how when we were young and we used to think we could change the world and that we would be able to fix everything and that everybody would love use you know?
And that everything will be alright if we just stay in our lane, not interfere in anyone’s life, and only help, you know, as much as we can.
Well, apparently, that doesn’t work out.
Umm.. me thinking today about how we used to think that age about our mental health and how we were gonna live our life, you know, do as much as we can.
I noticed you can’t please everyone, you know. You can’t make everybody happy. You can do what you can as much as you can.
And you know that sentence that people kept on saying: “I wanna change the world”. We kept on saying yeah that’s what we’re going to do. When we grow up that’s what we’re going to do.
Well, you cannot change the world but you can help change the world.
So it’s not a one man job. You’re going to have friends that are gonna help you. You’re going to have colleagues. You’re going to have people that you wouldn’t imagine help you lead the life you’re gonna lead and you’re going to enjoy it very very well.
But just remember not to give up, and that’s something we talked about when we were younger. As much as you want to look after everyone, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, you need to look after your well being as well.
Work is gonna be amazing. You’re going to have challenges. You know we love challenges and how we enjoy them since we were really really young? Well, it’s going to get a bit harder but you’re going to be amazing and you’re going to enjoy the climb up to that mountain.
So, you’re gonna enjoy the climb up to that mountain and then on the top of the mountain, you’re going to reminisce about how you got on top of that amazing mountain with that amazing view and guess what? You’re going to go up another mountain.
So, again, remember to look after yourself. Remember to look after your well being. To be mindful and that you can’t fix everything alone that you will have help from others and that you’re going to be just perfect.