I think we can all agree the world around us is ever changing and filled with a lot of challenges. The last several months have been difficult for all of us, both professionally and personally.
The global pandemic has created many obstacles that are changing our businesses, our communities, and our lives. Many companies have furloughed and laid people off, or worse yet, they had to close their doors entirely.
Further compounding those obstacles, we have experienced an emotional election like we have never seen before, an uproar of civil and social unrest, and a holiday season that looked very different from years past.
All of this has stirred our emotions, leaving many people experiencing stress, anxiety, worry, loneliness, and/or depression. With fear and worry stalking the streets of our nation, many people are asking how they can cope and gain control over their well-being?
Time to Take Inventory
I believe now is the opportunity to take an inventory of our emotions and mentally re-set, re-new and re-focus. But how can we do this when there is still so much happening around us every day?
One way is to take a holistic approach to well-being. Evaluating every area of your life can help you identify how you are feeling physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
From my experience, when any of these areas are off balance, it can negatively impact our lives and those around us. While there are many things out of our control that impact our emotions, being mindful of the challenges you are dealing with and recognizing how you are feeling – both physically and emotionally can be a good first step to help nurture your well-being.
Here are 4 things you can start doing today to help reset mentally and protect your mental health.
Be Mindful of Self-Care
Self-care may look different for everyone, but when we are aware of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, we can take actionable steps to manage the impacts. Introducing stress management and self-care can help you actively taking care of yourself, it can decrease any negative mental health symptoms and have a positive effect on your overall well-being.
Some common practices include:
- Keep a Journal: Getting your feelings out on paper will help you sort out your thoughts It can lessen the impacts and give you clarity. In addition, keeping a gratitude journal of 3 to 5 things that you’re grateful for or that went well for the day can help improve your mood. Journaling can help you identify what’s triggering your emotions and determine what’s bothering you, so you can take steps to re-focus and re-set mentally.
- Get Moving: Physical activity can be a huge stress and anxiety reliver. When you exercise, you release endorphins that make you feel good. Any kind of exercise for 20 minutes, 3 times a week can benefit your physical and mental health. Because exercise is very personal, you will have to determine what works best for you. The important thing is to get your body moving.
- Practice Breathing Exercises: Breathy exercises can help you relax and calm you down. Being intentional with your breathing lowers stress and can help you think more clearly. There are many types of breathing exercises you can put in practice, such as deep breathing, pursed lips breathing, 4-7-8 breath, meditation, or yoga to name a few. Take time to explore with different methods to find a technique that works best for you.
- Take Care of Your Body: With all the changes we’re having to make these days, it will be important to take every step to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and stay active. Getting the proper amount of sleep and refueling your body properly can help reduce stress and re-new your mind.
- Take Care of Your Mind: There are many ways to reset your mind. This may be an opportunity to learn something new, read a book, or start a project that you have put off in the past. Keeping mentally active can boost your thinking skills and keep your mind sharp. Furthermore, keeping activities in place that you enjoy, having fun, and simply laughing can counteract some of the intense emotions you may be feeling.
Be a Grace Giver
Give yourself and others some grace. You don’t have to know all the answers or have it all together all the time. It’s ok to not be ok, but the important thing is to learn what to do when you are feeling that way, so you can minimize the impacts.
The same is true for others. We can’t always know what others are dealing with or why they may be acting a certain way. We are all dealing with different emotions, beliefs and opinions during these times. Extending grace and kindness can go a long way to nurture relationships.
Be a Boundary Setter
In order to reset mentally and emotionally, you will also want to establish some healthy boundaries. Saying no is not a bad thing, especially during stressful situations. When you do not have healthy boundaries in place, it can wear you down, add to stress, and cause you to lose your focus. You may eventually burnout out from the pressure you have placed on yourself or the pressure others have placed upon you.
In addition, without healthy boundaries, you may begin to feel unappreciated or taken for granted. As a result, you may become defensive, skeptical, resistant, or even resentful. Without healthy boundaries, you can become angry and begin to blame others. Without healthy boundaries, you may take on more that is humanly possible. This is where you may feel like you cannot say no to anyone, so you take on more and more and become over-productive to the point of exhaustion.
There are many ways to set healthy boundaries. Look inward to determine how you are feeling and decipher if you are stretching yourself too thin. You can recognize this when you start doing things like putting higher expectations on yourself and others, feeling like you not accomplishing things, you are not laughing or smiling like you normally do, and feeling like no matter how hard and long you work at the task at hand, it will never get done. This is when a lot of people skip meals or eat poorly, stop exercising or they do not get enough rest. All of this impacts our mood and can have a negative impact on our relationships.
When you set healthy boundaries and they are clearly defined and communicated, it can give you peace of mind and more time and energy to focus on the things that truly matter, like your well-being.
Be in Control of Today
Focusing on the things that you can control will ease some of the discomfort you may be experiencing. Making a list is a great way to help you understand what’s within your control and can strengthen your resilience during times of stress. You may find that there is more within your control than you may realize. It may be something as simple as being aware of how you respond or react to people or situations.
No one really knows what the future holds, but we can look at where we are today and refocus our energy in the moment. When we are focused on the past, it can cause resentment and strife and we miss out on what is happening today. When we look too far into the future, we begin to worry and often project things that may never come to fruition. When we are too focused on the past or too worried about the future, it can cloud our mind and our judgment causing us to miss out on so many opportunities. When we live in the present, we can bring our full attention to what is front of us and find better ways to manage in our current situation.
Consider Your Own Well-being
It is vital: we must consider our own well-being and find ways protect our mental health. If we are not mindful and intentional with our mental health, the consequences can be significant. I think this quote by an unknown author really describes just how important it is for all of us to really look inward and take actionable steps to deal with the challenges we may be facing today. “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness”. Let me say that again: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness”.
Now is the time to reset mentally and nurture your well-being.