October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, a day for all of us to pause, and take a moment to give our peace of mind and stability a little attention. For some, however, promoting mental health is a way of life, and Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said is one such pioneer. The Omani royal has long dedicated her time and platform to educate the world about the importance of having a healthy state of mind. For those who may not be familiar, the mental health activist has more than 20 years of experience in the field, and founded the very first mental health clinic in Oman in 2012. “I believe mental health should be treated with creativity,” Her Highness once shared with Vogue Arabia, and each day, she continues her journey towards making the world a happier, more sound place.
This year, Vogue Arabia decided to get in touch with HH Sayyida Basma Al Said to shed light on the tips and tricks she relies on to keep her mind in a positive space, despite having a full schedule and a myriad of personal and professional commitments. Below, the royal shares her top mental health secrets for women on-the-go.
For HH Sayyida Basma Al Said, one of the most important steps to living your happiest life is to be aware of who you are, and what you can do. “A woman should acknowledge what her strengths and weaknesses are. To understand one’s self is one of the main factors of wellbeing anywhere. Imagine your workplace. It is very important to build on your strengths and invest in them and to acknowledge your weaknesses and see if you are ok to have peace with them.”
What are your goals?
“Having a clear vision and goals helps greatly in contributing to our mental health as working women, because then you are more focused, and you understand where you are going. You know where you want to be today, tomorrow or day after tomorrow. You have certain standards you want to achieve, and you are aware of how your journey is going to be. Even if there is a bit of turbulence on the way, you can now acknowledge that it is okay to go through this because you know exactly where you are and where you want to be. Having a clear strategy at work and at home and in life helps us achieve that too.”
A toxic work environment can make one feel like they have to go above and beyond their capabilities to please the team, but HH Sayyida Basma Al Said believes its important to note when daily tasks start to feel like a burden. “Do not give extra just because you are a woman and [you feel like] you have to prove yourself. Many women who hold high positions often think that they should be tougher and meaner because they are women.” The right job atmosphere should be one that feels supportive, and encourages you to reach your goals in a workable, healthy manner.
Take time out for yourself
“Looking after yourself helps you with your wellbeing and maintaining your mental health. That includes eating well and exercising in moderation, like taking a walk for example. You don’t have to kill yourself in the gym. Find something that you truly enjoy,” shares HH Sayyida Basma Al Said. “Try to also have ‘me time’. Even if it is just half an hour or five minutes, it has to be my time. I do whatever I feel like during this time. I hear a lot of women saying that they barely have time for themselves and don’t have breaks. You need to reward yourself by having time for yourself.”
Be true to yourself
“Understanding one’s self is so important, because it will help me to protect myself when external factors attack me, whether it’s social media or colleagues. I know how I am going forward. Social media is like a wildfire in terms how information is spread rapidly, often making us feel like we are not good enough and that we have to prove ourselves in ways that actually don’t resonate with who we are in reality.”
Mindfulness is key
“Being mindful is one of the most important tips to improve mental health. You should enjoy what you are doing and live the moment to its fullness and appreciate yourself,” says HH Sayyida Basma Al Said. “But if you don’t feel good after all that, please seek help. It is important to have a support system and to go see someone who can help you. There are so many options around the world.”
On a parting note, the passionate royal shares, “I urge women to reflect more on their mental health and give it priority. Create campaigns at your work place and be the change you want others to be. Women are capable to achieve and do many things, but we should know how to be kind to ourselves by loving and appreciating ourselves more. Don’t forget to be thankful and grateful for everything you have.”