About the Author: For Our Well Being
By Jane L. Delgado, PhD, MS
President and CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health
I recently spent time with a group of Latina entrepreneurs discussing my latest book in the Buena Salud® series, “The Guide to Understanding Depression and Enjoying Life”. The questions and answers covered a wide range of experiences and just as broad were the needs that surfaced. While one woman had questions about healthy eating another worried about having enough food to eat. It was a stark reminder to all the participants of the differences that define each person and that solutions need to be grounded in the needs and resources of the individual. It is a similar challenge with trying to discuss depression, so that it resonates with each person.
Basic to understanding depression is recognizing our feelings. Our feelings about everything from love to sadness to grief are unique. It is the intensity of the individual experience and the consequences, that retain the event in a person’s memory. What is ignored by one of us may be trauma for another and yet for both the emotional imprint will still be there. Culture and language are factors that further temper our daily lives and mental health. Certainly, the impact of what we encounter in our lives is a function of how we as individuals experience each moment. As a result, our needs and solutions need to be understood and tailored to each one of us. As we all know too well…one size does not fit well; it does not even fit most. When it comes to our mental health this is especially true. Even so, there are some fundamentals that hold true for all of us.
Coping with stress is only a short-term strategy. Stress is a part of life and often can serve to motivate us in the right directions. The problem is that too much stress can undermine our physical health, sense of well-being, and our spiritual life. When we cope with stress, we are putting whatever is causing stress aside by refocusing on something else. But the reality is that the stressor is still there and over time wears on every part of our being. The challenge with stress is to identify the source and develop a solution which tempers or where possible eliminates what is generating the stress.
The goal is well-being. Well-being means more than the absence of illness, and it also means we take care of our body, mind, and spirit. This entails accepting the past, striving for happiness in the present, and staying hopeful for the future.
The pandemic challenged us in so many ways and made us rethink everything from the pattern of our daily lives to what is truly important. For many Latinas it became clear that striving for work-life balance was a 20th century demand that was never achievable. It seemed that a better way is to create a healthy integration of work and personal life in a way that reduces stress and maximizes enjoyment.
There is professional support and treatment. Sometimes we feel we cannot feel better on our own; recognizing when that is the case and seeking professional help and treatment is a sign of strength. It means that we value ourselves and understand that with support we will find our path again.
It will get better. While hope may not be strategy, it is essential to life. And where there is life there is always hope.
For Mental Health Resources call: 1-866-783-2645 National Hispanic Family Health Helpline