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What Makes Me More Mentally Healthy
Maybe it will help you, too?
So, I am someone who tends to go into full worst-case scenario mode a lot, a trait I gave Rosie in the Bar Harbor Rose series. And this isn’t exactly the most mentally healthy way to be.
I’m also a person who eventually gets overwhelmed. I do all the things until one weekend, I find that there is no time to take a shower because I’ve been so busy doing all the things. I’m a person who likes to be clean, and this no-shower-time realization usually makes me panic a bit.
And probably it panics everybody else, too. Nobody wants an unclean Carrie.
This weekend, someone accused me of bias (in a way opposite of my actual bias) about a theme in some of the news in our town. And this shook me to the absolute core instantly. I mean, I put my head on the desk and just sobbed. I talked to two people. I got my emotions out. I mostly moved on after about 30 minutes, but it made me reassess. Why, I wondered, did this hit me so hard? I get critiqued and criticized all the time. Everyone does. So why was this different?
All this year, I’ve been working so hard on being mentally resilient despite the loss of friends, our kiddo’s events, Shaun’s three different cancer diagnoses (he’s doing fine), and just the pressure of trying to thrive and create and keep my family healthy and safe and help the community, too.
I broke instantly yesterday afternoon. And I didn’t know why. One of my friends told me in a private message that sometimes things build up and you’re in a place where you just are more vulnerable and that moment and the impetus combine to make big emotions happen.
Maybe that’s it. It definitely could be it.
But I think part of it was that the message knocked at my purpose; it made me think that all the good I was trying to do was for basically free was for nothing. And if I’m going to devote hours and hours of my time on something, it shook me to think that way.
All of this made me think about resiliency (which I’m going to focus on this month) and mental toughness and just how to be mentally healthier.
I’m going to share a few of my beginning thoughts and strategies despite my huge event yesterday.
So, I’ve started doing this and giving myself 15 minutes to just sort of free write my goals for the day, ideas for novels I’m working on, and sometimes working my way through mental blocks or that evil internal critic that seems to thrive on my worries like some sort of zombie that feeds on panic and anxiety and defeatist poop. A good resource to help you start this is Julia Cameron’s ancient book, The Artist’s Way. Spoiler: You do not need to be an artist to use it.
THE SCHEDULE AND THE LIST
One of my biggest things I do to calm my brain down and not feel overwhelmed is to make a list and schedule for my day. I’ve talked about that before, but a list really lowers my stress because it makes me feel like the tasks are doable.
Here a glimpse at last week and how this upcoming week started to fill up when I took this photo on Saturday. It is Monday now.
EXERCISING THOUGH I AM SO FAR FROM A JOCK OR AN ATHLETE
I am no longer a very fit person (or even a slightly fit person), and I miss Old Carrie who had working body parts that allowed her to do all the things. But mostly I miss the way my head feels when I work out.
Running (okay, really really slow jogging) clears my head. It also gets me away from checking email and social media. It helps me focus on other things. There is a ton of science that talks about how exercise lowers your overall stress levels as well as lowers anxiety and depression.
According to the APA,
“For example, exercise can be particularly helpful for people who deal with anxiety and panic attacks. When you engage in strenuous physical activity, you're essentially mimicking the responses that can come with anxiety, allowing you to learn how to manage these responses and not be overwhelmed by them in other situations.”
Pretty cool, right?
Sadly, I’m not getting those benefits from my 10 minutes of arm weights and 10 minutes of leg exercises, so I’m trying to slowly get back into running. My knees have other ideas.
LEARNING AND EXPERIMENTING
Seriously, learning things that I don’t know yet really helps me feel like I’m growing, which helps me feel less stress. Then I get to feel like I’ve accomplished something when something clicks.
Usually, writing a story, painting, doodling, getting my butt kicked at cards, or just joking around with my goofy husband makes me feel a lot better, dancing around, singing too loudly, w.
Writing is doubly helpful for me because it is telling my story but also it feels like playing to me because I actually love writing. I know! I know! All the other writers out there are groaning.
Whether it’s responding to a criticism with kindness or bringing someone some cookies or just bringing it in for a hug, kindness helps my mental health.
TALKING TO SOMEONE
Even if it’s just my computer screen, or like yesterday via Facebook messenger of all places, talking things out help me out. Also, furry critters are good to talk to. They tend to not judge. Actually, they might be judging, but luckily I don’t speak cat, so I’m not sure.
A lot of the time, when I’m down, my daughter, Em, will say, “When was the last time you went outside. Go walk the dogs.” I’m the type of human where going outside is pretty necessary for me to stay happy or get happy.
So, yeah. Those are my first thoughts. Later on this week and all month, I’ll be diving in more deeply.
DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST
Shame on Us No More. Own Who You Are, Baby.
I cannot tell you how much fear of public shaming and disdain has held me back my entire life. I’ve pretty much smalled myself down because I was so nervous about random, anonymous (or not) mean things happening. And I talk about that more specifically in the podcast.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The applause lasted more than two minutes. Multiple times.
“The first time I read this quote,” Dr. Brené Brown wrote in the intro to her book Daring Greatly, “I thought, This is vulnerability. Everything I’ve learned from over a decade of research on vulnerability has taught me this exact lesson. Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
So here goes:
Ignore the noise.
Blow off the haters.
Do your work.
Follow your passion.
Love your people.
Power through or love your way through your insecurities.
RANDOM THOUGHT LINK
We talk about feet sort of, but really facilitated meeting ice breakers. Either one? Totally sexy.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Sparty doesn’t care if people call him a toothless weirdo. He just loves every moment. Be like Sparty.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
SOME LINKS TO LEARN MORE IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT
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