Tami shares tips for living your best life with mental illness

 Tami Tsansai is a mental health advocate.
Tami Tsansai is a mental health advocate.

Tameka A. Coley (Tami Tsansai) is the Director of Communications at the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network. She is a writer, blogger and author of Hard Gal Fi Dead. She is an advocate. She is a motivator. She is a creative. And she is bipolar.

This World Mental Health Day, Tami has shared her thoughts on how she copes. How she keeps herself in a positive space. That space that shines from her smile! We know she is doing something right.

But still… “Relaxing is one of my biggest challenges!” laughs Tami. She’s working on it.

Related image

Whether you are experiencing mental health challenges or not, she shares her valuable advice:

  • First, diet: Eliminate processed and fatty foods as much as possible – they affect your mental health. Eat less meat and dairy. Eat ground provisions instead of pasta! Keep a food journal and make a note of how you feel.
  • Remember to breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly. We often don’t recognise we are breathing shallowly or even holding our breath. This builds tension in our mind and body.
  • Unplug! Turn off the technology. It’s overwhelming. Our brains can get overloaded. Anxiety and stress build up.
  • Just do nothing. There are so many stimuli, so much to do, so many distractions: “Be intentional in releasing those things.”
  • Yoga and meditation are “100 per cent” great.
  • Mindfulness is key. Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking can cause more stress. “Anxiety happens when you are not present.”
Tami uses several methods to cope with her mental illness.
Tami uses several methods to cope with her mental illness.
  • Occupy your mind in different ways. Do a crossword puzzle. Play Scrabble.
  • Find a healthy outlet for your feelings. Whether you have somebody to talk to or an occupation. “Gardening is really good,” Tami says. Creativity is great.
  • Tami keeps a daily journal. “If you are dealing with some heavy emotions, write them down. It helps!”
  • Move – dance, walk, jog, skip. Move every day for at least half an hour. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just move!
  • Sunlight is extremely important: “It’s a free anti-depressant.” We need between eight and 30 minutes in the sun every day.
  • Rest is key! Tami needs a “solid seven to eight hours.”
  • Get close to nature.
Image result for black barefeet on the ground

Do you know about “earthing,” or “grounding”? Walking barefoot on the earth every day is good for you. Direct contact with the earth (which science says has a mild negative charge) returns our body (which has a positive charge) to a balanced, neutral state.

We know wiggling our toes in the sand, or walking on wet grass, feels so good. Yes!

Image result for black feet in sand

Mental and physical wellness doesn’t have to cost you a lot. Tami worked these solutions out for herself. She is no longer on expensive meds. She has found cheap – or free – natural alternatives.

Need help and advice? Tami has a monthly Saturday support group on the UWI Mona campus (next is October 19). The Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network, a group of young professionals, seeks to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness, offering counselling and training services. It can be reached at @jamhan_ja on all social media platforms or via email at jamhan2012@gmail.com.