Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for yet another episode of the More Than You See podcast hosted by me, actor, filmmaker and mental health advocate Debrorah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation, and generally just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, but just a woman exploring my own mental health journey and sharing it with you, my listeners. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some understanding and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
Now I am so excited to finally be diving into a four part series all about the different elements of mental health. I know that I've said that I was going to do this for a couple weeks now. But things kept getting in the way. Two weeks ago, I did an episode all about love in the time of COVID. But it's probably a little bit different than you think, I actually dive into some tools that you can use in order to relate to your partner better. Or if you're single, how you can relate to yourself better and give yourself a little bit of grace and more understanding amongst all of this craziness. And then last week, I dove into toxic relationships and why it is so important to separate from that toxicity in your life. And how you can actually see that toxicity and light in your life and what you do about it. So finally, finally, we are going to be diving into this four part series.
Now the reason I'm so excited to be talking about the four different elements of mental health is because obviously, mental health conversations around mental health are getting so much better. But there's still a lot of stigma around mental health. And there's a lot of stigma around what we do in order to improve our mental health. And I think that unfortunately, this is all sort of just the society that we're in, because even if we, you know, do something specific for our physical health, that maybe makes us feel better, we automatically have some judgment towards someone else if they do something differently. And I think that that's a real problem with our society. And I mean, this is the overstatement of the century, but the way that we judge, the way that we analyze other people's decisions on things. And I think that it is really important, and a rule that I live by, that if you are not causing harm to yourself or anyone else, whatever you do with your body and your mind is on you, like if you are striving to make healthy goals, good for you. Like that's wonderful. If you are deciding that you don't want to get out of bed and you want to sit in the depressive state that you're in. That's okay to like I am all for the embracing where you're at. But I think the thing that we don't dive into enough, is the fact that there's a lot of different elements of mental health.
Now these four elements of mental health were broken down in an Armchair Expert episode, which is a podcast that I highly recommend if you have never checked it out. And in this episode, a psychiatrist and researcher broke down mental health into three different aspects. She said that you've got your environment, and that includes your social and your physical environment, you've got your brain chemistry and your hormones and how that relates to you, and then you also have your sociology, you know, how you were raised, how you talk to yourself, all those sorts of things. And then as I explained, in my first episode of this podcast, I was talking to my therapist about those three elements of mental health and how I never thought of it that way. And she was like, I would argue that there is a fourth element in there as well. And that is spirituality. And the spirituality piece is about like whatever belief system you have, how that comes to life, how that relates to you as a person and how that relates to your mental health.
For the next four weeks, I'm going to dive into each of those elements in a very minute way. Because I think that our mental health is comprised of all of those elements. And I think the more that we understand those four elements, the more that we can understand our own mental health, and how that mental gymnastics is playing out in our lives. Over the course of these next four weeks, you will really begin to have greater understanding of these different elements and how they affect you and hopefully develop some more tools that you can use if you are feeling that you're in a dark space.
To start us off, we're going to talk about environment and this is both your physical environment as well as your social environment. There's a lot of different factors with that. I want to start out with this because it relates very strongly to the episode that I released last week about toxicity in your life. Because if you're living with someone who you have a toxic relationship with, obviously, that can definitely cause some additional stress and additional anxiety in your home space. And that can of course, decrease the feeling of positivity that you have around your environment. And that makes a big difference.
Some other key factors are what part of the world you live in, and what part of the world you live in really affects the sun and how much of the year you get sunlight. If you live in a part of the world, where the majority of your day is actually gloomy, and you're not getting enough sunlight, then you definitely could be affected with SAD, which is Seasonal Affective Disorder. There's a lot of different research about how just using lamps that are specifically for SAD disorder, can increase feelings of positivity, because that will just mimic what the sun is doing. And the sun just adds more happiness into your life.
Some other things that can definitely affect your mental health, when it comes to your physical environment are loud noises, larger crowds if you live in a crowded city, that can increase your cortisol, which is your stress hormone. So that can certainly increase your feelings around stress. Also higher rates of pollution, if space that you're living in actually has an issue with toxicity or mold. You know, all of those physical factors can certainly impact your mental health. But then there's also some less obvious things that affect our mental health. And I think that right now, while we are all for the most part trapped in our homes, because of covid, this is affecting us a huge amount, and we have a greater understanding of how much our physical space is affecting us. And it's really important to do what we can in order to improve our space.
And so I'm going to, you know, share some tips about what you can do to improve your environment. But again, I would like to stress that environment is both your physical environment, but it also is the people that you surround yourself with. It is your social environment as well. We have all heard before, the idea that you are the sum of the five people that you hang out the most with. And of course, even you know, these times where we're hanging out on zoom, or we're hanging out on you know, FaceTime that still affects us. However, we are relating to people, that still is affecting our mood affecting who we are. And so I think that it's really important to make sure that you are still being careful about how you are interacting and who you are interacting with. Even on zoom.
There is this idea now that we are all reachable because we are all at home. And because we all have access to our phones, and we have access to zoom and FaceTime and all these things. And that is damaging. Just because I am home and I am on my computer does not give anyone else the right to your space, you are completely entitled to whoever enters your space. And that includes now, you know your digital space. I also want to make sure that I recognize number one my own privilege and the fact that I have a lot of control over my space. Because I live alone, I have control over where I live and who I surround myself with and what is in my physical space.
I also really want to make sure to include a discussion around environmental racism, which is racist discrimination in environmental policymaking that has been discussed a lot this past year, which is so important and it has a huge impact on the mental health of communities of color, both individuals as well as the communities. And so the community that we live in as well also has a huge impact on our mental health. The final element of this is the fact that our brains contribute so much to how we feel about a situation and how we feel about our environment. It is important to recognize the fact that our perception of our environment also strongly impacts our mental health. So if you're just not in a headspace to make a positive change in your environment, it doesn't really matter what you do, it's still going to have some negative connotations to you.
So for example, if you are deciding to you know, declutter your space or rearrange your living room and you are still coming at it with the idea that this is never gonna work, this is ugly, I still feel not at home here, etc. That's just going to continue to color your feelings around the space that you're living in. So I think that it's really important to have gratitude towards your living environment, as well as to try and make small changes that will affect positively your overall environment.
And some examples of that it doesn't even have to be big changes. For example, about six months ago, I was feeling really negative about my career and just like not feeling like I was making enough progress, there was just a lot of negative feelings around my life. And I think a lot of that, of course, had to do with the stagnation in the industry not being able to work like all of those sorts of things. And what I started to do was write little post it notes to myself, and just put them all around my house, I probably had 20, post it notes on every surface, on the inside of mirrors, inside my refrigerator, on doors, and sometimes all they said was, you know, "you can do it" or "you are enough", or "why not me"? "Why can't I be everything that I want to be, what is holding me back?" And so those small little post it notes, I still have some on my doors, they just helped so much for me to feel better in my environment.
So I definitely recommend that you do small little things that will just remind you how freaking awesome you are. Because that really can have a huge, great impact on your life. Now, of course, I also, you know, want to go back to the covid factor, because that, of course, has a huge impact, again, on the fact that like we have been living, most of us within the same four walls for a very long time, we are probably so tired of looking at the same face. And again, I know that this comes from a very privileged place for me to be able to say that I am tired of the fact that I have a comfy home to live in. But then you can hold that gratitude, as well as also hold the fact that you are feeling tired of your current environment.
And sure, you can do some things like get flowers, put those post it notes on the walls, but you can still also feel tired of it. And you can also feel that it's really difficult to switch between work mode and life mode. And I know that I have always worked from home. So this has always been something that I've struggled with. And this is something that everyone has experienced this year, you know, how do you separate your work life from your home life when you're home has now become your work. And this certainly is a huge factor in our mental health because there's so many blurred lines when it comes to being at home and being at work. And there there not being any separation there.
So the suggestion that I would give to you is set a specific corner of your house for work, designate that for your workspace. You just have a room that you're living in, then designate one corner of your room to be devoted to your work. Whatever you can do to sort of delineate a space. I would also recommend that you try to set you know very strong work hour. I have pretty much all notifications off on my phone after a certain time of day because I just don't want to be dragged into a work situation.
Again, to make a differentiation between work time and home time, what I would recommend that you do is you know, have your delineated work time. When you are done with your delineated work time, make sure to close the book, you know shut down your computer, all of those sorts of things, put it down and go for a walk. Even if it is literally that you are walking outside of your house for five minutes, and then walking back in. Just having that separation in your environment and separation in your mental space, as far as like "this is work time over, I am now coming into my relaxing lifetime", that is so important in order to again make that delineation. That has made a huge impact in a positive way on my own mental health, and has really reminded me that like once I do that walk around the block, that is post work. I don't pick up my work again. I don't. Because now I am not in my work-home, I am now in my home-home and in my home-home, I do not do work. So I think that that is certainly something that I have struggled with, but it is a boundary and a kind of requirement that I have set for myself this year. And it has been hugely impactful.
As I hope that you've realized today your environment, makes such a huge impact on your mental health. And I wanted to start with that one because it is so strongly tied to covid, because of our current - you know being stuck with people that maybe we weren't used to spending this much time with, or because of our physical environment not changing. Like there's so many aspects of our environmental state that is impacting our mental health in a huge way. And I think if we can incorporate some of these small little suggestions as far as like, you know, have gratitude for the space that you live in. But also make sure that you are reminding yourself of how awesome you are, put little post it notes up on the wall. And then also do the exercise of going and delineating making a clear delineation between your work time and your home time, your work environment in your home environment, that is going to have a huge positive impact on your mental health. So I strongly encourage you to incorporate that into your life in some way.
Now, next week, I'm going to talk about spirituality, and how our spirituality is actually tied to consumerism and to capitalism. It's fascinating. I actually, after that first episode, my sister left me a voice message about spirituality and how it is tied to capitalism. And it was so fascinating what she was explaining to me because she is a sociologist, that I had to share it with you all. So I'm really excited to dive into that again next week. And again, I think it's just so important to understand where we come from, why we're feeling the way that we're feeling. And so much of it is tied to the way that we have been operating as a society for hundreds of years. So I'm really excited to dive into that spirituality piece, and hope that we all have a greater understanding of, of how our spirituality comes into play with our mental health, and how that has been impacted by the greater world around us.
Again, thank you so much for joining me, let me know if you if you put some post it notes up in your house, please take a picture of them, tag me in them on Instagram, I love interacting with you all. Thank you to everyone who is rating reviewing sharing this podcast, as well as the people who are sending me personal messages about what each episode means to them. Every time I get one of those I just get further warm fuzzies and makes me feel so good and makes me feel so happy that this is something that I have dedicated my time to. So thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I super appreciate you all please remember that you and yourself and your environment is more than you see. Please give some extra grace and love to your environment this week and I will see you next week.