meet michael ahmad
The Senior Director of Global Education at Herbivore Botanicals who believe it’s okay to not know what the fuck you’re doing. Because if you’re not fluctuating, you’re not living.
How do you check in with your body?
I use my Theragun almost nightly. It’s really great for helping me reconnect with my body and identifying what’s going on. It’s strange because sometimes, with my muscles, I feel to an extent that I don’t understand what’s wrong with them until I apply pressure, which is kind of a metaphor for life. The Theragun really helps me identify that I may have been shifting my weight to one side. It helps me understand the mechanics of what’s going wrong throughout the day that would cause me to feel tenderness in those places. It’s accidentally become a bit of a meditative act because I get to check in with my body, assess where I am, and make some informed decisions about how I want to pivot the next day.
How does sleep and rest impact your mental health?
My husband took this picture while I was actually napping, which is very uncommon. I’m not a great napper, but sleep is everything. I wake up super early every single day and I’m in bed at least by 9pm. When I’m well-rested and hydrated, I can tackle anything, no problem. But when my relationship with sleep suffers, everything systematically crumbles. I have to have really hard boundaries around it because a lot of people don’t understand it. And a lot of people kind of chastise you when you are committed to your schedule.
How do you implement the energy of crystals into your life?
People constantly ask, do you really think that crystals are actually rebalancing energies? They could or it could also just be the fact that you’re investing thought towards recalibrating your energy and that is inherently the force that’s changing them. When I think about crystals, they are all anchored to our chakras.
“Purple is anchored to our crown chakra, blue is anchored to our throat chakra.”
So when I reach for a lapis stone, I’m consciously choosing to evolve my relationship with finding my voice. That impacts how I behave throughout the day. It’s an interesting process because without that being my way in, I don’t think I would be that aware of what’s going on with me spiritually or physically. So it’s a nice way to focus that energy.
As someone who works in the beauty industry, what is your relationship to beauty and skincare?
In my personal and private practice, my skincare routine, my self-care routine, it’s all about celebrating and loving yourself. And I know that sounds so cliche, but truly there’s something to be said about taking a moment for myself. I’m going to engage in this ritual to beautify and primp and feel like a more refined, healthier, gorgeous version of myself. A lot of people can be super dismissive about that and say it’s all artifice, it’s all vanity. Being beautiful will never solve your problems, but feeling beautiful can give you the energy to seek solutions to your problems.
In my private practice, I love my relationship to beauty and skincare. Professionally it can be a bit complex. I’m not speaking specifically to the company that I work for, but cross-referencing other brands’ efforts in the realm of sustainability or being socially responsible. You start to recognize the disconnect that exists between the optics around what’s actually happening. And that troubles me deeply sometimes. I feel like it keeps me up at night.
How would you describe your mental health currently?
Highly variable. At times I feel a bit manic. It comes with the territory of being in really, really unprecedented times. We were trapped inside and now we’re having to negotiate the world while also sustaining the possibility that we might have to take steps backward. We are in an echo chamber with our own thoughts. I do think that is constructive and generative. But I also think it’s really fucking hard. We have these moments where it’s like, I’m doing it. I had a good day and I feel great about what’s going on. I feel like I have a firm grasp on it. And then there are other days where I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t know why everything is such a struggle. And I think that’s okay. It’s okay to have a little bit of fluctuation. If you’re not fluctuating, you’re not living.
How does intimacy and relationships impact your mental health?
Some people are very driven by their hearts and some people are very driven by their careers, but everything for me boils down to the desire to be loved and to feel safe. My husband, Justin, is the most wonderful, gentlest, kindest man in the world. I know it went very differently for a lot of people being trapped in a space with their significant other and discovering perhaps they weren’t the ones for each other, but Justin and I discovered that we operate in such perfect synergy. He is my favorite person. I’m excited to see him every second that I have with him. Because of that, I think that that has sustained me more than anything else throughout one of the most challenging chapters of my life.
I’m a survivor, I would have scrapped my way through it, but I don’t think I would have had the wherewithal to keep pushing forward. Feeling emotionally satiated, feeling content and safe and peaceful gives me the energy to do everything else that I need to do. And if that cup was empty, I would just crumble.
What’s your take on medication, like antidepressants, and supplements?
I think that it’s important to acknowledge that everyone is so different. For me, medication didn’t end up being the right fit. I didn’t need to be medicated. I needed a gym membership and a therapist. But I do think that there are people who have really strong chemical needs when it comes to how they need to regulate. I have bad anxiety and a doctor a few years ago told me Zoloft is good for anxiety. I got put on it and I immediately went into a deep, deep, dark depression. It did not agree with me. And the doctor who was prescribing said we need to reevaluate the dosage. I kept feeling worse. Then he said, you have adult ADD and gave me a prescription for Adderall. So I was profoundly unhappy, and also highly energetic because of the Adderall. It was such a weird tornado and I felt so out of control of my life.
“I slowly weaned myself off and I started to look inward.”
I’ve been successful because I’m so committed to my routine and my schedule. The gym helps me drain my body of cortisol and a lot of that anxiety. I think that the conversation around medicine is important and challenging because you really have to be prepared to advocate for yourself and over-communicate. You can enjoy the benefits of it, but if it’s not the right fit you have to speak up for yourself.
What makes you stressed or anxious and therefore impacts your mood and mental health?
Honestly, what doesn’t stress me out? To some extent, I have an excitable personality. If you were to eliminate every single stressor that existed in the world right now, I guarantee you, I would be able to defer to something else to feel stressed about. It’s part of my temperament to over dissect, over-analyze, forecast every terrible scenario that can come from any interaction. My mind goes to all of the worst-case scenarios and then tries to generate an action plan for how I would respond to them. That’s where my stress comes from. It’s self-imposed.
When do you feel most at peace?
Right before bed.
When do you feel your body tense up?
When I’m logging in to look at my email at the beginning of the day.
What gives you serotonin?
Time with my husband.
What does your body language say about you?
That I’m absentmindedly bitchy.
When do you speak your mind?
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