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Importance of mental health and living intentionally - interview with Catherine.

In this 2-part series, Catherine shares her story on overcoming self-doubt to become an established Author and why she is passionate about mental health. Find part one here.

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In this 2-part series, Catherine shares her story on overcoming self-doubt to become an established Author and why she is passionate about mental health. Find part one here.

Mental health is crucial to living a balanced 3600 life. People have taken this into account and there are all kinds of campaigns by NGOs to prioritize good mental health. Writer and wellness advocate Catherine Wanjiru wrote a book “Layers of a human” in which she shares that mental health and intentional living go hand in hand.

In the interview Catherine explains why it is important to have a reason for living and a purpose for everything you do. She defines intentional living and how to apply it to everyday life. She also gives tips on how you can keep your mental health in check.

Diving into the content, what is intentional living and how can people start living intentionally?

My perspective: Intentional living is living for and with a purpose. Why do you want to do what you do? Or why do you do what you do? If you can dig up to the WHY and wake up each day with the mission of achieving it, then you will be challenged to take only what leads you to it and ignore everything else that doesn’t. It’s being consciously aware of self, choices and behaviors and doing what needs to be done.

People can start living intentionally by looking at their abilities, what they can offer to others, regardless of the quantity, and immersing themselves in it.

2020 has come with a lot of pain and despair for many people. How does the book help people go through that?

2020 has been a trying year, no doubt. But we should not merely sit back and watch it. I would suggest looking for ways of redeeming self; whether it is in the personal or professional space.

The book mainly focuses on emotional and mental aspects. I dedicate the third chapter, which is about breaking free. I don’t advocate for living in victim-mode. 

 “Self-pity, if permitted, makes you its prisoner. It gives solid reasons for staying where you are; tells you not to put in any work and convinces you that at the very least, you will have an explanation why you never made any sort of change in your life should anyone ask. Self-pity gets you the attention of a few. It deceives you into thinking that you are seen and heard, but in reality, it swallows you alive and diminishes your capabilities. Self-pity is the cause of sinking and extinction.”

Forgiveness and love go hand in hand. How do you advise people in your book to achieve both?

Self-love means doing what is necessary to promote growth. When your love runs deep, you make peace with the past outcomes and change how you view and handle yourself and others. Generally, you distance yourself from anything that negatively impacts your progress, such as deep-seated anger, hatred, and blame games.

Look for the positive aspects in yourself, appreciate them, focus on them, and increase them; that will help you to develop the love. You can also look at the higher reason of existence; that will challenge you to change your perspective.

According to you, what are some of the best practices when it comes to keeping our mental health in check?

Mental health is influenced by a wide range of factors; some of which are controllable and others beyond our means. It is an aspect that you have to examine and take care of every day. The best approach in this case would be figuring out what is within your reach and doing the necessary and for what is beyond, distance yourself from it and try not to blame yourself for its occurrence. For instance, we all know that being financially-strapped can lead to stress. In that case, you should take the necessary preventive measures such as being mindful of your spending habits and curative measures of diversifying the sources of income.

Mental wellness calls for both collective and personal efforts. On a personal level, sincerity, seeing yourself as the individual you are, and vulnerability can help keep the mind in good shape.

I believe that if you can be true with yourself, how you are feeling at any particular time, how your life is going and how you wish it unfolded, this can easily make way for mental wellness. In most cases, accepting a particular outcome pulls someone from the victim-mode, marks the end of the denial stage, and the beginning of the resolution phase where an individual can start seeking solutions for the ongoing challenge. A sizable number of the issues can be resolved if the affected individuals knew how to move from the denial state.

Collectively, we need to be sympathetic with each other without wanting to know the story behind each face first. We should also take the shame out of seeking help for mental wellness. And this is where vulnerability comes in. If you can rid yourself of the fear of being judged if you seek external help, then you will be signing up for wellness.

Another way would be ridding ourselves of the cliché that anyone struggling emotionally/mentally needs to confide in someone because sometimes it would not have the impact it is assumed to have and some people don’t have anyone to turn to, which can worsen the issue. If you are struggling, look for the healthiest solution and dive into it. If you can only get better by signing up for counseling, go ahead. If you can resolve by changing your attitude towards something, that would be perfect. Sometimes we know the solutions to our problems but are in denial.

What does Catherine do for fun and if you were to choose a spirit animal which one would it be?

I listen to music, watch comedy movies, and travel. My spirit animal is an eagle, any day! 

Written by

Kelvin Mokaya

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