How was your week? I hope you had a lovely, peaceful week with family and friends, and you hugged your dog for at least 45 minutes a day. Unfortunately, summer has been cranking up the thermostat these last few days, and we have struggled to get out of our house unless absolutely necessary. This situation has taken a toll on our mental health and our capacity to deal with the stress of life in the land of concrete and indifference.
If you have visited Tokyo, especially in summer, for more than a week, you might be aware of how uncomfortable and tiring it can be for you to roam the jungle of concrete. Aside from the fact that it is a wonder of the world and a fascinating culture, Japan can be very taxing on your mental health if exposed to it for an extended period, especially if you are susceptible to scarce social interactions and an inability to function as a member of society.
Summer has been especially hard on Wendy, who has to commute 1 hour both ways to go to work. If you have ever ridden a train in Shinjuku at peak hours, you know how intense and unreasonably crowded it can be. Indeed not a place you want to be on a sweltering day during a pandemic. And given that the vaccination rates are still struggling to catch up to the rest of the world, you know the stress is real.
Considering All Sides
We don’t want to talk ill of Japan. On the contrary, we are truly grateful for our lives here and the wonderful opportunities for growth we have experienced. Yet, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be real about our experiences.
All countries have their good and bad sides, and life has certainly not been smooth or pleasant all around. However, the growth we have experienced has come as the consequence of resistance we have had to push back against in a society that still has many issues to work on despite its virtues and achievement.
So, what are we doing for self-care?
First and foremost, we are trying to give ourselves permission not to be at our best every day. The fact that we manage to juggle the blog, podcast, social media, PR, our multiple jobs, and having all the life responsibilities and the stress of living in Tokyo during a pandemic while staying sane is a remarkable achievement.
Still, this is taking a toll on our capacity to be in our best mental state. So we have agreed that things don’t have to be 100%. Our output doesn’t have to look perfect every day. So you are allowed to take it easy and have a lazy day. After all, if we break down, it won’t matter if we achieved anything.
Secondly, we are putting some things to look forward to in the calendar. It might seem inconsequential to you, but in reality, it helps a lot to have something that excites you and you look forward to doing or having in the near future. It can be a vacation, a massage, or even a present you give yourself.
Thirdly, we ensure that our day, as busy and packed as it is, still has activities that counter the toll that work does on our mental health. Yoga, meditation, reading, jazz, whatever helps you relax and get in a good mood.
We are big on Yoga and reading before bed, and we are trying to introduce meditation to our routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect —we struggle every day to stay consistent— as long as you come back to it and put your heart to it.
Finally, we are trying to find a way to have some distance from the city. This relates to the second point we shared of having something to look forward to. We are hopeful we can find a way to spend some time near nature and heal.
We want to leave you with this.
Sometimes life can be really tough. Being a good son, a good daughter, a father, a mother, a friend. It can be too much some days. Trust me, I know.
So I want you to know that it’s OK to struggle and feel like you can’t play your role today.
It’s OK to take some time off and not be good enough today.
It’s OK to say that you need space and care for yourself.
It’s OK to put yourself first.
Stay Safe; Stay Well.