What Do You Think When You Hear, “Mental Wellbeing”?
As we find ourselves in the midst of Mental Health Week and hear all the reasons why awareness and self-care are so important, do you wonder how well you are doing in the area of caring for your OWN mental wellbeing and self-Care?
Do you think its another “Get Happy Quick” scheme that everyone else seems to preach about, but no one is sure anyone is actually doing them? But what things? “Oh, you know…eat well, exercise, meditate and other things that come and go, eb and flow with your mood and commitment”. “Commitment” sounds like work, I don’t want my mental wellbeing to feel like work! Shouldn’t it feel the exact opposite?
For me, it IS – and here are some of the things I do to keep my mind and body well, with my personal take on the “why” I do it! Caring for my mental wellbeing never feels like work for me, I look forward to doing it, and it’s flexible, making it easier to maintain for just about anyone.
Start the Day (if possible) with a Startup Ritual
Light exercise could mean a morning 5-10-minute stretch, attempt some yoga-type poses, you DON’T need to be perfect or a professional instructor to just stretch your body in a way that feels good! Take a walk outside, preferably in nature, but don’t just walk…wake up all your senses. Listen to soothing music, or if you’re in nature, listen to earth sounds, the birds, the trees swaying, the wind passing your ears. Breathe in the air and notice it filling your lungs with coolness, be PRESENT. If the weather isn’t great, then just add movement to your morning. Dance around your bedroom to your favourite playlist while you get ready for the day or do laps around your house, PLAY like no one is watching, but just MOVE!
Learn Something New
This could be through a book, a YouTube video, an app, or a class/online, anything from learning how to garden, a new language, what snails eat…whatever! Just LEARN SOMETHING NEW. Did you know Harvard University is offering 70 FREE online classes that range from 1-11+ weeks? Keeping the brain warm is so important, it’s a muscle, it needs to be worked out! Warning doing this can lead to interesting conversations with strangers and a boost in your confidence. Side effects include an increase in overall memory, concentration, and a lack of overall boredom.
Organize Your Space, Organize Your Life!
Sometimes our space is a good indication of the state of our minds. What is your space telling you and others? If your life is hectic, our space can look… hectic. Organizing can provide you with a feeling of control in your life, it can make you feel like you have it together, you feel productive, and in turn, you may just feel less “cluttered” with your thoughts. Purging clothes and things we no longer have use for anymore is also a great tool to increase a sense of wellbeing. Donating these things or giving them to someone who would adore them will also make you feel good inside. My best friend was decluttering and gifted me a tiny glass dog from her childhood, this gift is SO precious to me, and I cherish it!
Find One Moment a Day to be Present for Yourself
Meditate, I know, I said the M-word, but give it a try! Most people have the wrong idea of meditation, you don’t need to have years of experience or 200 hrs in Tibet to be able to do this. It takes practice to not find this “boring,” or easily being distracted by our thoughts or to-do list, but I promise you will see why this has been a practice for over 3,500 BCE. Sit/lay still… don’t sleep, not yet anyway, just be… be still in your body and space, feel your heartbeat, quiet your mind and listen to your body. How is it feeling? Tight? Where is it tight? Most importantly, listen and feel your breath. This is your time to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Pay close attention to all the things that go with this, the feel of the air passing in through your nose, down into your lungs, filling your chest. By just taking 10 minutes to do this, you will feel a shift in your body, it should feel looser, your mind calmer. Don’t give up on this practice, and trying all the different YouTube videos or apps that help in meditation is always a great option.
Some T & T, Tea and Talk… or Coffee
Something about tea…it really can feel like you are taking your first breath of the day. It really supports connectiveness and opens up a conversation with ease and comfort, so invite a family member, it’s like magic! Its the 2nd most popular drink in the world next to water and this is for good reason! There are many health benefits to teas, but the way it brings people together is my favourite. It’s my secret ingredient to getting my 13-year-old daughter to sit and chat with me, and it works every time!
Learn/Work on Your Craft
We all need a creative output! Humans are “storytellers”, it’s in our DNA. How we tell our stories is up to us, that’s the beauty of it, not to mention that “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder! Find time to work on your craft, and if you don’t know what yours is yet, then even more reason why you NEED to do this! Your craft can be through writing, music, painting, molding, sewing, photography, whatever speaks your story best. This is unique to you, and in doing this, you may find a great release in bottled up energy, leaving you feeling calm and balanced.
Don’t Forget to Ground Yourself
I don’t mean a time out in your room, more like a time out on the grass! I am serious about this one, so please remember this suggestion. Find a patch of grass, daily if possible, for at least 30 minutes. This doesn’t need to be too strange, any opportunity you find, where you can kick off our rubber sole shoes and connect your bare feet to the earth is a good thing. This also works on sand and mud! Doing this improves sleep, reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone), and can reduce inflammation and pain. There are some great documentaries you can learn from about all the benefits and science to back it up (wink).
Self-Care Wind Down Ritual
I feel nighttime is a great time to create a ritual; it needs to be a “ritual” more than “routine”. Make this a sacred time, where you tend to all YOUR needs! If bath and journalling, for example, is your go-to ritual, then don’t just run hot water get-in-get-out, make it a special! Add potions to your tub, salts, bubbles, oils, whatever you have! Light candles, incense… Lay there with intentional thoughts of gratitude, breath. When you’re done, have a ritual for that part too! Moisturize and care for your skin, your face, and take our time. When you journal, if you have writer’s block, try writing a letter to your younger self, an old friend, or a memory you have and cherish. Take time for you, your thoughts, and your body because you deserve it!
Life is busy, fast pacing, and rushed, but this isn’t in our being to be so. Slow down, turn your cell phones, laptops, and tv off when you do these things, its important to shut off from the distractions and pay attention to your physical and emotional space. If we cant nourish ourselves within, we cant nourish the things outside of ourselves!
Be well, my friends and happy #WellnessWednesday!
P.S. Be sure to visit our new community-facing website, www.carizonforthecommunity.ca, for free tools and resources to help kids, adults, and families look after their mental health.