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Shakti perspectives: Aastha

I have most definitely struggled with mental illness. I began my battle with depression in early 2016 and nearly took my life because of it. I was never taught the importance of having a healthy mind so when it first plagued my mind it completely caught me off guard. I felt really alone – not because I didn’t have anyone to support me – but because it made me believe that nobody cared, causing me to isolate myself. I had to push (or drag) myself through it and it took me a long time to learn different ways of coping with it. What I find the hardest about my mental illness is that it tends to come in waves and my best practice for coping with it is to let it come.

I don’t try to resist or ignore my negative thoughts and feelings, instead I allow them to come to me and then I practice different techniques which help me alleviate and control them. I’m still trying to figure it out, there’s no handbook on this sort of thing, but right now consciously taking the time to focus on myself helps me a lot. I don’t hesitate to postpone plans or tell somebody I don’t feel like talking at that moment, even though it gives me anxiety to do so. I force myself to rearrange my priorities for as long as I need to and put myself on the top of the list, no matter how selfish it might feel and I usually end up feeling a lot lighter. I always remind myself that I can do the dishes in the evening and I can call my family back tomorrow - but in that crappy moment I need to make myself and my mind the main priority. 

It’s been said a lot recently, but these are uncertain times and that uncertainty sometimes creeps into my daily routine causing me to feel a little more anxious than usual. I’ve started doing different things to keep my thoughts balanced, one of which is makeup. Makeup has always been therapeutic for me and I find sitting in front of my mirror and putting a bunch of colours on my face helps me manage my emotions and work through my thoughts. Having something in my daily routine which I have complete control over makes me feel a lot more grounded and helps calm my otherwise scrambled mind! If anything, I think this pandemic has exposed me to the small things in my daily routine which do and don’t give me a sense of control. 

A lot of us have been struggling with self-care during lock down what I find helps is to try different things. There’s no rule book (unfortunately) on how to survive being in lock down during a global pandemic so it’s important for you to experiment with different self-care techniques. The most important part is pinpointing what makes you feel less stressed – is it a sense of control, like myself or maybe it’s a sense of accomplishment, like finishing a puzzle. You need to tailor your self-care routine to exactly what you need at that moment in time. You might want to let off steam and do a quick exercise/dance, or maybe you want to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it! Just ensure that you’re doing it for

yourself, because YOU genuinely want to, not because social media has convinced you that you must.  

 Apps like tik tok are embracing challenges such as #dontrush and #sarichallenge which show how powerful makeup can be, they’re fantastic! Not only are they super entertaining to watch, but they also allow people a moment in their day to practice what they love or, even more simply, do something that makes them feel good. I feel like all these challenges are just an example of how different people practice self-care during such a scary time and come together to do so. Why not take an hour out of your worrisome day to do a little dance or throw on a full glam face and have something to look forward to! 

Working in the makeup industry you can see we have taken a massive hit, especially those of us who do client makeup and have had to cancel most of our 2020 clients. However, overall, I think the makeup industry has coped pretty freaking well! I’m seeing tenured artists being more creative with the makeup looks they’re posting and I’m also seeing new artists emerging on all social media platforms! It’s exciting to see people pick up makeup as a new skill, something they may not have been able to try due to their busy lifestyle's pre-lockdown. Not only new artists but also those of us who have been in the field for a number of years are taking advantage of the extra time and working on projects or techniques we might not have thought of before. For a lot of us in the beauty community, the lockdown has reiterated our love for our respective arts, even if it has gone from a full-time job to a hobby! The makeup industry is absolutely thriving! 

There might be some South Asian females who feel trapped being at home with toxic people for extended periods of time, the main thing I would suggest is really demanding space to yourself, in whatever form that may be! Even though our South Asian culture might disagree, it’s okay to prioritise your needs above everyone else’s. Take an extra 10 minutes in the shower or maybe stay in bed for half an hour more – whatever brings you a bit of peace is always a good start. Another thing that helps is reaching out to somebody you DO trust. It’s easy to be trapped in your own head with your negative thoughts, especially when you have toxic people around you add onto them. Break the stigma that you cannot seek help from other people – because you can! In fact, if you ever want to talk and keep it anonymous, just send ME a message and I will welcome you with open arms! There is so much relief in allowing people to be there for you. 

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