Mental/Emotional Wellness + Power
Here are the basics: having positive and stable mental health is important, but we must also honor that mental health is fluid. For details read on.
It is safe + normal to experience a range of emotions
Oh mental health, such a taboo subject.
Society tells us that we should be smiling and happy all the time, and that emotions such as anger, grief, or sadness should be minimized at all costs. I get a kick out of this because just as it is unhealthy and abnormal to be depressed and sad all the time, the same goes for being happy! Without getting too philosophical in the realm of mental health, its important to note that issues arise when we spend too much time in one emotion and it starts to negatively impact our lives in some capacity.
One practice that is incredibly helpful in creating healthy, fluid mental health is learning to identify and name emotions accurately. When we are feeling happy, sad, angry, etc, we can often confuse emotions, and this becomes even more challenging when trying to understand the emotions of others. Raising your emotional intelligence by exercising your ability to properly identify the emotions you are feeling instantly provides validation.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Learning what putting yourself first really looks like can be a lifelong journey, and can change according to what stage of life you are in. When it comes to mental health, being gentle with ourselves and our experiences should be a negotiable (although this is so much easier said than done). Allow yourself to experience the depth and range of your emotions, and never attempt to suppress or invalidate them. Your emotions, feelings, expressions are always accurate and valid.
This brings us to learning to love ourselves--all of us--both the dark and the light. Celebrating and treating triumphs and tragedies equally is such an important tool for continuing our education of the human experience.
Your goal should be to foster the best relationship within yourself. Put yourself first. Be kind.
detox your mind as needed (hint: daily)
Let us review the material covered in the detoxification + elimination module...
A healthy body follows a healthy mind, and the following check-ins, tools, and resources should be used often:
1. Are you spending time alone? And by alone, I mean without other distractions such as cell phones, television, and the computer! Put your phone down--some of our best ideas and epiphanies come during periods of complete boredom. Alone time should be nourishing and rejuvenating, as the quality of our alone time is key. For parents, this may be only 5 minutes , and that is okay so long as you find what can deeply nourish you given that time frame. It is also incredibly important to note the frequency of your alone time--are you spending too much time alone? Too little? Balance that works for you is key.
2. Learn your mental detox cues. Feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or finding yourself snapping at others? Feeling like you can't easily handle or process the stress in your life? You may be in need of a mental detox.
3. Figure out if you are an introvert vs extrovert, and then detox appropriately. Introverts literally NEED alone time to function, and usually a whole lot of it. Extroverts typically feel uncomfortable during periods of alone time, as they recharge their batteries by engaging with others. Most people tend to be a mix of the two, so find your introvert to extrovert ratio and allow this to guide your need and method for mental/emotional detox. An extrovert may need a night out on the town where an introvert might need to hole up at home.
Here are an assortment of excellent tools for mental/emotional detox that can be incorporated and sprinkled throughout your month as needed:
1. Therapy and counseling. This may be from your friends, a trusted professional, or experience based like a retreat.
2. Hobbies + leisure activities. Take the time to do what you love! I have many friends who say going to see live music, attending gatherings, or spending time in nature does the trick.
3. Meditative practice + mental rebooting. Take time each day to meditate (we will talk more about this in the other modules), and create the space for yourself to have a mental reboot. Perhaps schedule one day per week where you do not use the phone or computer, and you just take the time to check in with yourself and release what isn't serving you. #selfcaresunday, right?
As we learned in the Basics, having positive and stable mental health is important, but we must also honor that mental health is fluid.What tools can we utilize regularly to keep us balanced? Let's go deeper.
JOURNALING OR A GRATITUDE PRACTICE
There is something magic about taking a moment to write down what you are feeling, what you are grateful for, and what you'd like to call in. I recommend some variation of gratitude journaling for just about every patient I see in my office, as no matter where they are on their healthcare journey, it adds a planned moment of reflection that carries so much medicine. When trying to exercise and tend our mind, remember all of the abundance and beauty that surrounds us really helps keep things in perspective. I recommend answering a few prompting questions that you create every day, either in the morning before you start your day, or before bed when the day is done. For an example, please see the Bonus module for a gratitude journaling worksheet.
Utilizing A Spiritual Practice That Resonates With You
Regardless of upbringing or societal pressures, believing in something greater than yourself has well studied and established benefits to your health, and the health of others. Finding a practice that works for you can be a beautiful tonic for your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, and practices can range anywhere from organized religion to connecting to Mother Earth. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and the best part is, you don't have to pick just one! Being able to integrate or at least appreciate teachings from all denominations or universal experiences can help you with connecting to your source and balancing the mind.
RESOURCES FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Mental health is a body system that needs just as much tending and support as any other. When our mental health needs extra help, say, during a time of immense stress, grief, or mental illness, having resources for mental and emotional support can be our greatest and most profound allies. Professional help is best, but it takes some time to find the right clinician to work with. Do not settle! In the mean time, try to have one or two people that you can trust and feel heard.
In order to help you fully integrate all of this information, please enjoy the Sound Mind bonuses for a worksheet on gratitude journaling.
Here you will find all the extras and bonuses mentioned in the Basics + Going Deeper modules, plus a little extra. Enjoy.
Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.