TikTok trend hilariously captures how it can feel to take care of our 'stupid mental health'
"Going on a stupid walk for my stupid mental health," writes TikTok user @ninalaevski on a video of herself comically trudging along in the snow backed by a peppy music track.
The video has amassed 8.4 millions views and nearly 900,000 likes with comments describing it as "too relatable" and "very accurate."
Videos following a similar format have blown up on the video sharing app with the hashtag #stupidwalkchallenge reaching more than 38.2 million views. In addition to walking videos, people have shared other activities they do for their "stupid mental health."
In another video, user @isabellamolivas shows herself doing "stupid yoga" for her "stupid mental health," which includes eye rolls and exasperated exhales.
"Can't wait for more pandemic workouts in 2022..." she adds sarcastically in the caption.
Jill Daino, a licensed therapist with Talkspace , says she understands the frustration.
"We're two years into this pandemic, two years of getting these recommendations about taking care of our mental health... And what I took from those TikToks was the absolute depletion and exhaustion... that people are experiencing at this point. It made a lot of sense to me."
Even if seemingly small self-care practices seem "stupid," Daino assures it can make a positive impact on your mental health.
"I know what happens when people don't take care of their mental health and these small steps actually make a huge difference, even though it doesn't always feel that way in the moment," she says.
Amid all of life's pressures, it can be "challenging to put yourself first and prioritize your mental health," adds Melissa Dowd, a licensed therapist at mental health platform PlushCare .
"This can be especially difficult during days when you are feeling down and it feels like it takes extra effort to address these feelings versus ignoring them," she says.
Daino adds wintertime can be "particularly challenging for mental health."
The pandemic doesn't help either, she says, from isolation to difficulties navigating COVID guidelines and confusion in how to move.
"People thought we were really on an upswing... People were getting back to doing the activities that brought them joy and pleasure. And then omicron happened, and I think that is where we saw a real shift again (of) people feeling frustrated and depleted... (because) all of a sudden we had things closing or being limited."
But the downside to skipping your mental health practices may include increased anxiety, increase depression, feelings of loneliness and more, Daino warns.
Dowd says she's glad this TikTok trend is helping people feel like they can be candid about how they're feeling.
"It’s important we break the stigma around discussing mental health and encourage conversations about self-care and healthy coping methods," she says.
How to get motivated about your mental health and self-care
Aim for small wins and celebrate them: "People want to go for big wins... (but) it's the small, everyday wins, that are so much more valuable" Daino says, adding that something as small as a five-minute walk deserves a mental high-five.
"What we need to do is celebrate the small wins because our brain then begins to associate those small successes and positive reinforcement and actually then makes it easier to be motivated the next day," she explains.
Remember the past doesn't predict our future: "Just because last week was kind of a down week doesn't mean next week's the same," Daino says. "Being able to say to ourselves, 'Today is a different day.' 'Yesterday might have been really difficult, (but) I'm going to put my sneakers on today, and I'm going to go for five minutes and see how that feels.' Or maybe 'I'm going to meet my friend for a cup of coffee."'
Get your momentum going: Remember that small steps generally lead to bigger steps.
"Starting with a smaller task can help us feel the positive changes in our mental well-being quickly to be able to work up to the larger end goals we all have," Dowd says.
Find what works: Finding it difficult to set aside time for that "stupid walk"? Dowd suggests adding self-care rituals into your daily routine.
She encourages clients to find what habits and rituals work best for them, whether it's setting a reminder for self-care or scheduling time to talk to a friend or therapist about how they are feeling.
Lastly, you don't have to skip the sass: "It's OK to embrace that people are feeling snarky or defeated because those feelings are real," Daino explains. "I think the challenge is, how do you embrace the 'both'? How do you have those feelings and still turn that into, 'but you know what, I can still do this.' I can have a bad day... (and) still do my stupid walk.'"
Trying to be positive all the time can turn into "toxic positivity," she explains, which is why she advocates for embracing those less-positive feelings.
"It's knowing how to ride those waves and have all of the feels – not just the positive ones, not just the depleted ones, but that you're working with both."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: TikTok trend hilariously captures how it can feel to take care of our 'stupid mental health'