Small steps for taking care of our mental wellness

In light of recent current events, I wanted to give some suggestions for taking care of the most important aspect of our wellness, our mental wellness. As some of you know, I work on an inpatient Mental Health unit at a hospital. My job is to teach different life skills, coping strategies, and the importance of daily structure and leisure. I thought I’d just outline some points that I feel can apply to anyone.

We as humans tend to thrive when we have some form of daily structure. This can vary from person to person, obviously. If you have set working hours, you’ve already got a good start. If you are someone who has a more flexible work schedule, maybe a work-from-home set up, it can help to decide exactly what time you will work a day or two before – give yourself a plan. Now we all have at least one regular activity outside of work (hint: it’s how we know each other). Planning ahead for the week and knowing exactly which gym classes you will make it to helps you mentally prepare and gives you something to look forward to. If you are someone who isn’t working right now, it can be designating specific times to do the things you’re already doing, and giving yourself a schedule that way. Such as cleaning from 9am-10:30, reading from 1-2pm, and grocery shopping at 2:30.

We live in such a busy culture, that I think a lot of times we forget to slow down and relax. When is the last time you scheduled some quality relaxation and leisure time? Maybe send the kids with friends or family and just wind down? It can feel silly to think about scheduling time to do nothing, but it is so important for our life balance and well being! Now that it’s summertime, I know schedules can fill quickly with lots of social events (don’t get me wrong, socializing is good for mental wellness, too), but sometimes that can begin to feel overwhelming – especially if you have kids with social lives of their own but no driver’s license. It is more than okay, even at times necessary to say ‘no’ to events to keep that sacred relaxation time on the schedule.

Now here is where I want to talk about coping strategies – ways to deal with anxiety and depression. These should be things you can do in a given moment when you are feeling overwhelmed that help to distract you and calm you down. Sometimes it can be as simple as reading or grabbing an adult coloring book. Maybe watching Planet Earth on Netflix. If you’re someone who’s maybe a little more hands-on, crafts are a great way to distract. Your hands stay busy and your mind becomes focused on the next step of the craft rather than whatever was initially overwhelming you. Here is a question that can help gauge where your coping skills are at: what do you do after having a long/bad day? Did anyone say grab a drink? I’m not completely knocking that, because I’ve been known to do it too, BUT if that’s your go-to after every bad day, it can lead down a dangerous path. Finding other, healthier alternatives that can distract you and help you relax can give you some balance so you don’t have to reach for the beer/wine/cocktail each time.

If you are someone who does struggle with anxiety and/or depression (and even if not), it is even more important to make a mental note (or write a list) of who your supports are. Who are the people you can call during a crisis? Try to think of up to 5 trusted people you could call and talk to. Emotional support from others is important, and you want to make sure there are multiple people you can turn to.

Taking care of our physical wellness can play a big role in out mental wellness – and if you’re reading this, you’re likely already taking steps to do so. Paying attention to nutrition, physical activity, recovery, and sleep can all have an affect on mental wellness.  We are part of an awesome community with knowledgeable coaches ready to answer questions in these areas – resources we are SO lucky to have.

I hope this was helpful to read through, and maybe you even found a few key takeaways. You are all such resilient people, I’ve seen it each time I go to work out. Keep doing what you do.

Anna Ross


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