From dealing with anxiety, to facing some of the more “toxic” sides of social media, AJ has developed plenty of ways to manage and protect her own mental health.
And it all starts with a huge piece of advice we can all learn from: “Whatever kinds of emotions you’re feeling, automatically know that they're valid… happiness, sadness, anger, everything is demands be felt.”
We’re going to give you a moment to read that again, because those are words to live by.
AJ explains that one of the best ways she’s found to process her emotions is to literally just feel them and find healthy ways to let them out.
Sometimes that means curling up with a sad movie and letting the tears flow (girl, same), which she likens to a really intense emotional workout.
“I know that will get [the emotions] out of me… You get that adrenaline, you get all these emotions out and you're just like, ‘wow, that felt good’,” she laughs.
“That's when you can just move on and then find the things that spark joy… to kind of counteract the negative feelings that you just had.”
As for anxiety attacks, AJ says that simply taking note of the things around her can be the first step to bringing herself out of that “panicky” headspace.
“It just instantly brings me back [and] starts to calm me down, because you start to realize that you're present and you're not in your head anymore. Whatever you're feeling is just temporary and it will go away.”
Of course, it’s one thing to talk about those experiences and another thing altogether to, you know, experience them.
AJ admits that it can be easy to feel like you’re being “irrational” or “crazy” when dealing with mental illness, but it’s so important to remember that what you’re feeling is totally valid.
“Everyone just needs to know that your journey with mental health is your own, it doesn't need to be compared to someone else's and how you cope and deal with it is up to you,” she adds.
“It shouldn't be shamed or looked down upon, because you're human… we do the best that we can and that's okay.”
Part of AJ’s own mental health journey has been figuring out how much of herself to share on TikTok, the 25-year-old explaining that the fairytale version of her we see online is a big part of that.
We see her on the app in floaty dresses, with glowing skin and big smile, and while that is technically her, it’s also a bit of a persona.
“I do a lot of thinking of how I can protect my energy, how I can share things about myself and who I am as a person, but then keep a lot of it protected,” AJ explains.
“The way that I do things online is still me, but also a different version of me… I'm not like that all the time. I’m having the more confident version of myself do that [her online content].”
After all, AJ knows all too well that being online all the time can become toxic for your mental health, especially when sharing deeply personal things.
Though she views it as her “responsibility” as a creator to be authentic and honest online, she also knows how draining it can be to put all of yourself into social media all of the time.
That’s why she’s so glad to see more creators, and average people, being open about their own mental health struggles and how they cope online.
“It’s okay to show yourself having a moment or having a cry. We know that everyone deals with that stuff, and we don't have to hide it,” AJ says.
While we can often feel pressured to only show the “highlights” on TikTok and Instagram, AJ encourages young people to remember that you don’t have to portray the best version of yourself every single time you post.
It’s okay to share things that are getting you down or that you’re struggling with if you want to. It’s also totally fine to keep things private when it comes to social media.
“How much do you want to share? Everything that we do as people is a work in progress and we're all on our own separate journey,” AJ adds.
Now she’s teamed up with livestreaming app Yubo to connect with young people who may be dealing with their own mental health and social media struggles.
AJ will be going live on Yubo tomorrow night to share her advice on how she deals with anxiety, answer questions from the audience and have a meaningful conversation with the community.
Sign up to the app here and tune in tomorrow, Friday October 15 at 6pm - 7:30pm AEDT to hear more of AJ’s advice on all things mental health.
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