How is Your Mental Health Today?

On keeping your ego in check, pandemic friend-making, and more.

Welcome to the Roundup

Welcome to The Roundup, a Monday series that discusses the BEST OF in Mental Health + Motherhood + Fashion + Identity.

There’s nothing like basking in the reading glory that can only be found in high-fashion magazines. I spent the weekend devouring the latest issues of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle, and I have to hand it to the magazine publishing industry for giving the people what they want — relateability.

Mental Health

During my Vogue binge, I especially enjoyed an interview with plus-size model Paloma Elsesser. Talking about what it was like growing up in “a big body” alongside the skinny white waifs of the modeling industry, explaining how being surrounded by her artistic brood of a family helped shaped her, she said this:

“Everyone is in pursuit of their own goals, and the by-product of that is loneliness.”

My heart skipped a beat from the painful reality. How true is that? We get so caught up in bettering ourselves and reaching for success that we don’t even know why we’re doing it anymore. We get blinded by what we perceive as a better life, and end up resenting the one we have.

A challenge I’m giving myself is this: Every time I start to hear that nagging, negative self-talk creep to the front of my mind — I’m not good enough, I should have it together by now — I’m going to reach out to someone in my network and put the focus completely on them. Seeing how they’re holding up in quarantine, asking them what hard thing they are going through right now, and offering help in whatever way I can.

According to mental health experts, this should reframe our minds to a more positive place, serving as a reminder that the point of life isn’t to be a best-selling author, but simply a kind and caring person.

Motherhood

Niobe Way, a professor of developmental psychology at New York University who has studied friendship for 30 years, says there is optimism in friend-making during the pandemic — it just takes “a little more intention and a little more openness.”

Here is what experts say about making (and keeping) pandemic friends:

  • Get creative. Ask yourself if there is someone you’ve lost touch with over the years that you want to reconnect with. I can think of 3 people right off the bat. Because you’ve already established a friendship with this person (even if it was long ago), it’s a much easier route to friendship than starting from scratch.
  • Stay connected. Keeping in touch during the pandemic doesn’t have to be impersonal. Even if it’s not in person, writing letters, scheduling phone dates and having routine FaceTimes are all great ways to connect and sustain the friendship.
  • Go on friend dates. Consistency strengthens friendship bonds, no matter if it’s with your childhood friends or newer acquaintances that you’re hoping will turn into Real Friends. Attaching friendship to a shared goal — like yoga or walking or keeping up with the same TV show — can help reinforce your relationship and the new habit, according to Adam Smiley, author of the upcoming book, “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.”

Takeaway: “Being intentional, being available, being reliable and being excited are all things that work in your favor.”

Fashion

Why does uniform dressing work in your favor? It takes the guesswork out of what to wear.

From sets and jumpsuits to relaxed denim and elevated tees, this article is style inspiration gold, as told by two seriously chic women in their 50s who have mastered the art of style when it comes to the cross-section of confidence + comfort + statement-making looks.

Identity

Who you perceive yourself as is directly linked to your wellbeing. Touting ourselves as Mothers, Startup Owners, Writers, Health Coaches, Marketing Managers, Feminists, and Nonprofit Volunteers gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment, yes.

But being too obsessive about labels can be harmful to your mental health, and limit your potential in life. This is an intriguing piece on how our obsession with performance is changing our sense of self.

In case you missed it…

Last week I spoke with Hollywood actress Alli George on the ups and downs of the industry. Here it is if you didn’t get around to reading it:

Thank you for reading! Have a great start to your week.

Ashley is a freelance writer based in Connecticut. She is currently working on a memoir about becoming Mom before she was ready. She has a lifestyle column in INK Publications, print edition, where she discusses the importance of mental health as it pertains to, well, everything.

Life is better when we laugh. I write about the importance of mental health & believe our weirdness is what makes us great. https://ashleyalt.substack.com/

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