The first week in October is Mental Health Awareness Week.
This is fitting because September is Suicide Prevention month. So it absolutely makes perfect sense to me that as we begin a new month, October, we remind ourselves that we can always find ways and activities to improve mental health.
This topic hits home for me because I am reminded daily to protect my mental health. Especially when we are grieving, Our mental health and wellbeing might feel like it’s in the toilet?
At least, mine did. I felt like I could barely “keep it together” most days…
The home front, felt like every morning was a struggle. Not just getting out of bed, but even simple, basic tasks became monumental. Brushing my teeth, combing my hair. Reminding myself to get out of my pajamas and into “real” clothes. If I wasn’t careful, I could put on what I like to call “mental pajamas” for months.
Before I had kids, All of my siblings and friends had kids. So I never fully appreciated nor did I understand why kids LOVE pajamas? But it is true! They love them!
My daughter loves the weekends because this means that she doesn’t have to rush and get dressed to go to school. She can simply lounge around the house, in her pajamas of course, all morning long. Heck, most times, she would love to stay in her pajamas all day long if I let her.
Some days, we do let her (stay in her pajamas all day). But I will say, that for me, there is a delicate balance between letting her stay in her pajamas all day long versus, getting dressed and ready for the day. What do I mean? When it comes to our mental health and our well-being, It can become easy to let our mental health “wear” pajamas all day long.
Are we playing old tapes in our minds about something from our past? Have we been paying attention to too much news or social media over an extended period? Do we find ourselves not being compassionate to the one person who matters most of all?
YOU! How often do you criticize yourself over nothing? Or, at least something that might really be small and insignificant?
I’ll share an example, speaking of this topic of mental health and well-being, the other day I went to see my counselor. Before I left, I asked my husband if he needed me to pump milk or if he was going to give our son formula? I rattled off all the ways that I could pump so my son didn’t have to have formula before I had to leave to make my appointment on time. Then, my husband stopped me midsentence and said, “crystal, it doesn’t matter if he has formula once today.”
And, you know what he is right! So here I was stressing myself out over something that wasn’t even a problem, and yet, I had completely blown this out of proportions in my mind and made this small, insignificant task of feeding my son formula instead of breastmilk a really big deal, when it didn’t have to be. We do this all the time to ourselves! By we, I mean me, and I’m just hoping that you are nodding your head in agreement?
Best Mental Health Practices
May include things such as:
- Spiritual practice- reading your bible, or prayer, etc.
- Being out in nature* This is one of my favorites.
- Going to the park with my kids
- Even going to the dog park with our dog. But minus the poop. Just fyi, please pick up your poop 🙂
Whatever you choose, finding ways to “unplug” is so important when it comes to protecting your mental health.
Protecting Your Mental Health
When it comes to the discussion on protecting your mental health, it has been my personal experience that your brain will tell you to keep going, that there is “always” more work that needs to be done . Or, something that “must” get done. But, you must take a break!
Remember the Kit Kat candy bar jiggle?
“Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!”
To watch this on YouTube, type in Kit Kat bar commercial.
Give Me a Break!
In spite of the urge to keep working and doing whatever it is that your mind is telling you, you must get done, don’t believe your mind! Listen instead to your heart to your body.
Activities to Improve Mental Health
Breathe, Pause, and Step away from whatever task you are doing immediately! Exercise caution.
Because as we’ve talked about before, you cannot keep going at this pace!
It is not sustainable, otherwise, you will crack!
Remember they couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again when he cracked…
If we don’t find activities, or things that alleviate this in our own life, I fear that we might find ourselves in a dark place or at least a place where we wake up one day and we don’t recognize ourselves in the mirror anymore. Where we aren’t able to slow down and recover.
*Notice that I didn’t mention anything physical when it came to activities.
This is because you know YOU!
Plus, I wanted to give you ideas that were not necessarily physical for types of activities to improve mental health.
Think of a sports injury, If you live here in the U.S., Football is in full swing!
My husband is very happy! Fall is our favorite time of year. When you think of any sport, whether this is football (American) or Soccer or tennis whatever sport you prefer. When someone gets injured, what happens? Do you see them playing in the next game? Are they dressed in uniform ready to play in Sunday’s game? NO!!! Of course not!!!
Why? Because they are INJURED!!!!
That would be silly and not smart at all to send the player out to play the sport! But friend, we do this to ourselves ALL THE TIME!!!
We play injured! We don’t stop!
Even, If we desperately want to! Even when we know we should “yes”…Quit!
Or, push pause, In fact, some of us don’t know how to do either, quit or pause. Myself included! Just like an athlete, we need to recover. When it comes to our mental health if you don’t remember anything else or, you simply forget as I do…
Remind yourself to NOT take the “all or nothing approach” when it comes to your mental health. Every little bit helps!
What are some of the ways you recover?
How do you become aware of your own mental health?
When do you know when you’ve gone too far?
Pushed your limits?
What are your best mental health practices?
What are activities to improve mental health for you?
- Best mental health practices could include: meditation, journaling, and being out in nature
- Activities to improve mental health include things like: breathing, pausing, stepping away from whatever task you are doing immediately, and exercising caution. Notice these activities are not physical.
- Just like an athlete, you need recovery time.
- Don’t take the “all or nothing” approach to your mental health. Every little bit helps!