WELLNESS IS A CHOICE
“You can be healing and feel broken at the same time. Healing isn’t a destination we reach where we’re perfect and at peace all the time. Healing is a journey that involves accepting and embracing ourselves as we break, as we heal, and as we reconstruct.”|Najwa Zebian
Oregon’s salty breezes, caves to explore, waterfalls to chase, treasures to discover, and new adventures to experience have filled me with excitement about this next chapter in my life. Whether it’s the ocean, mountains, forests, or any aspect of nature, it helps ground, calm, and clear our minds. The ever-changing tides, delicate wildlife, and shifting seasons are all a reminder that it’s ok just to let yourself be. No matter what region you reside, time must be set aside in the outdoors for our well-being and serve as a reminder we all need to fill our lungs with fresh air and take in simple beauty.
My blog was on pause these last few months during our COVID-19 recovery, transitioning from Colorado to the West Coast, and being busy with copywriting deadlines. Although I’m thankful to be so busy helping agencies, clients, and businesses communicate their messages, what’s been missing is sharing what inspires, motivates, and helps me stay happy in my life. So, being #NationalWellnessMonth, I wanted to take a moment to share a few valuable insights that have helped me on my journey with the hope it helps some of you.
Anxiety, depression, mental health, and all the messy aspects of being human can be hard to manage. The truth is we all struggle at times and will face it at some point in our life. These days so many of us are mentally juggling so much, are under pressure to live up to unrealistic standards, and never in history are people stressed out more than they are today. There is no quick fix or overnight cure-all, but it starts with having open conversations and honesty with ourselves, friends, and family. We all need to feel seen, understood, and valued, which takes accepting ourselves, asking for support, and utilizing tools to help us manage and heal.
Focus On What You Can Control
It can be frustrating when we wish things were different, especially in a world where we can feel helpless with what’s happening around us. Accredited Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Coach Emma McFarland recently shared a great visual as a helpful reminder of what we can control in our lives. The bottom line is that the sooner we accept we only have control over our thoughts, behavior, and mindset, the less time we will waste on issues around us we can’t change. It’s not a matter of not caring, giving up, or not fighting for what we want; it’s about directing our energy into areas of our life where growth is an option.
Open Communication with Children
Sadly never before have children struggled so much with mental health. Recently, at only twelve years old, my daughter was given a confidential suicide questionnaire during her physical; the doctor explained it’s required for all children from age eight. The National Institute of Mental Health now ranks suicide as the second leading cause of death among those 10-24 in age. My daughter has seen numerous YouTube creators and entertainers in her age group commit suicide under enormous pressure.
While conversations around these topics can seem overwhelming, children need help to process and reassure them their emotions are valid. Instead of trying to buy our children things, teach them how to live, thrive, and provide the knowledge they need to find their way. Explore with your children outdoors and talk honestly about their feelings. Watching my daughter leave her phone behind to search for mushrooms, locate sea creatures, smell wildflowers, and admire tall trees fills my heart.
Ways to Manage Anxiety, Stress & Mental Health
While each situation and person is unique, I’ve compiled these practices of what’s helped me cope with challenges.
- KNOW YOUR PLACE. Your only responsibility is to breathe, be authentic, speak your truth, love who you are, and take the next step for what you want for your life. It is not your responsibility to fix, save, be liked by everyone, do it all, or always hold it together.
- BE MINDFUL OF YOUR BODIES NEEDS. Think of your body as a house plant with more complicated emotions. Like any being, we need daily nurturing to thrive. Drink more water. Have a good cry. Limit foods that don’t make your body feel good. Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap. Be cautious of addictions that don’t fix the problem. Unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders. Get a massage, acupuncture, or another form of self-care.
- JOURNAL. Write without judging, dump your emotions on the page, and remember it’s healing. Not only does writing your thoughts help clear your head, but it assists your mind in making sense of your challenges. Make sure to include what you are grateful for and acknowledge your victories.
- SET BOUNDARIES. People pleasing and perfectionism are a losing game. Learn it’s ok to say no, distance yourself from people who drain you, find new employment if needed, and schedule activities that bring you joy. You are a human being, not a human doing.
- MOVE YOUR BODY. Choose an activity every day to release your stress. Biking, swimming, hiking, running, yoga, the gym, a walk, or anything you can look forward to that’s active daily. Exercise has proven numerous mental and physical benefits, but we must prioritize it in our schedules.
- MEDITATE. Calm your mind every day by breathing and being present. Whether you use an app like Headspace, my favorite, or find free techniques online, taking time to breathe revitalizes, calming the mind, especially before bed, when it’s easy to worry.
- EMBRACE YOUR SITUATION. Let go of living up to society’s, families, friends, or anyone else’s expectations. While personal goals and values are vital, focus on being accepting of your current circumstances, and what you can be grateful for, not what isn’t realistically attainable.
- CONNECT. Listen to a motivating podcast, call a trusted friend, read a motivational self-help article, or meet someone you respect for coffee. Do something positive to get out of your head and get a fresh perspective.
- UNPLUG REGULARLY. We live in a technology-obsessed world created to be addicting, so set limits on social media, with the news, streaming services, and anything that can drain your precious time. Focus your energy not on the right now, but on what will matter in the long run.
- KEEP PERSPECTIVE. Do something kind for someone, volunteer for an organization you’re passionate about, donate to a cause that is making a difference, and remember someone always has it worse than you.
- TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL. Virtual and in-person therapy is vital to help anyone cope, heal, get unstuck, and have a safe place to share feelings honestly. It takes bravery and strength but is critical in allowing you to be the best you. Every person is different, and sometimes medication is needed. Don’t be afraid to get help.
We Are All Healing
Remember, continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. Progress is about growth, not pace, so as long as your doing your best and working towards your goals, let that be enough. While we cannot control many things around us, some days will be more challenging than others; remember, you are not alone, and there are simple tools you can use to assist you on your journey. You are not a diagnosis, a label, or a broken person; you are finding your way. Never forget that you can manage your thoughts successfully with practice. It takes self-control, assistance from others, and shifts in attitude, but you can be successful. We have all lost friends to suicide, so be kind to those around you, make that call, send a text, and ask for help. We all have battles we are fighting, but never forget all the significant aspects of life and that your voice matters. As James Allen gently reminds us, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
Find help and resources at Mental Health.gov or the National Alliance on Mental Health