How To Prioritize Your Mental Health This Summer

How To Prioritize Your Mental Health
Photo by Milan Popovic for Unsplash.

By Contributor Caylin Harris 
The world is insane right now. Full stop. I could list everything that’s going on, but when it starts with a global pandemic you quickly realize that it might be smart to just not even go there. Sending you into an anxiety spiral would defeat the entire point of this article. Prioritizing your mental health has never been more important, but sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about changing your entire routine or mindset.

It’s important to note that these tips aren’t meant to be a replacement for speaking with a licensed therapist and/or psychiatrist—depression and anxiety are serious illnesses that deserve personalized attention and care. If you are struggling, you can reach out to your insurance company to see what in-network therapists are available or contact the National Helpline who can help you find resources in your area.

For me personally, I’ve found myself in a more negative mindset lately—the news and current events feel heavy and overwhelming (because they are). I spoke with Jackie Ghedine and Mimi Bishop, co-founders of The Resting Mind and co-hosts of the podcast, Make Your Life Magnificent, for their best tips on how to help change your mindset and ways to cope with our new normal:

How To Prioritize Your Mental Health

Make a decision to be more positive.

Obviously no one is positive one hundred percent of the time. But you need to lead with intention. “It’s about making a conscious decision to be positive,” says Mimi. “It’s very easy to slide into a doom and gloom mindset. But by making a purposeful choice it’s like you’re putting a stake in the ground that can help stop you from spiraling.” This doesn’t apply if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, because making that change isn’t that easy, but if you’ve found yourself just generally gravitating to the bad news 24/7 this suggestion might help.

Reset your expectations.

Life isn’t going to look the same right now. So you can’t hold yourself to the same standards. “Give up the badge of busy. We get hooked on that feeling and we complain that we’re overwhelmed. But we’re addicted to that stress,” says Jackie. Start taking things off your to-do list and refine your expectations of what you’re capable of doing/ handling. “How you define success needs to change. Maybe instead of leading with traditional success markers, you focus more on connecting with and caring for people. Giving back can greatly increase your happiness metric.” The last few months has forced us to get very clear on what’s important and what’s not.

write it down!

This advice gets thrown around a lot. But taking the time to write down what you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal is so important. “We also have clients record a worry log. So we have people write down whatever they worry about to teach them to release the worry and be more present in a moment,” says Mimi. “Then we have them go back and take a look at their worries. Because about eighty percent of what you worry about is out of your control and only about seven percent of what you worry about actually comes true.” This exercise helps rewire your brain to manage worries.

skip social in the morning.

That scroll through social media when you wake up might contribute to stress. Jackie and Mimi tell clients to avoid social media sites in the morning and then go on at noon instead. “I have clients use all their energy for thought work until noon because your brain works more efficiently in the morning,” says Jackie. “Social media is so draining and can contribute to decision fatigue.” Also, if you’re scrolling through social looking for news in the morning or at night, don’t. Either watch the news or go specifically to a news site (although it might be smart to avoid news before bed if it tends to stress you out) to cut down on mindless scrolling.

reframe how you talk about your feelings.

Think about the language you use to describe your feelings. Try not to say, “I am anxious/depressed/sad”, basically anything that is negative. Instead, try saying “I feel overwhelmed or anxious” it’s how you feel, not who you are, explains Mimi and Jackie. People tend to go immediately to the heaviest, most extreme emotion. Thinking more purposefully about your emotions and trying to describe them as accurately as possible can help you see situations differently.

embrace your inner child.

Turn off the computer and create some space in time in to get outside or do something just for fun. Schedule the time and really lean into your creativity. “We have clients talk about things that excited them as kids, so activities like paint-by-number, swinging on swings, walking their dog, or reading a good book can help connect you with the wonder you felt as a child,” says Jackie. “We often don’t give ourselves permission to go back to that childhood love but it changes your day.” Stepping away from the news and your phone helps shift your perspective. “You’re shifting the energy in your body in a positive and happy way,” says Mimi. “When you’re getting lost in creativity, you’re focusing on things that bring you to a higher level of energy and the whole vibration of your body shifts.”  

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7 Comments

  1. Lynn wrote:

    Thank you! I have found myself going down a slippery slope lately . I do have real Covid fears as well as real life losses in my family that I am still coping with. I have a nice therapist who encourages me to have goals, mediate and self soothe. Truthfully, some days are extremely hard and I’ll cry. I miss my child and my parents and social contacts. I’ll read Jess’s and your posts and sometimes I’ll buy something, but this is all heavy stuff for me. I don’t even remember when I last felt free and could go out here in Florida. Thanks for the article and I’ll read it again . We are all struggling in our own ways. I know I need to do better and forgive the days that I don’t quite get there 🦋🦋 xo

    8.5.20 | Reply
    • Caylin Harris wrote:

      Lynn, As always thanks so much for reading! So sorry to hear that you’re struggling but so happy to hear that you’re taking steps to prioritize yourself and your mental health—finding an amazing therapist is such a help! Thinking of you! xx

      8.6.20 | Reply
      • Lynn wrote:

        Thank you Caylin . Your posts and of course Jess’s posts make my mornings sitting with a cup of coffee much happier than to hear the news every single day. I look forward to all the posts and the things that I too can do here where I can’t take a pretty nature ride or a walk with the scenery I adore in NE. Changing the view can help or watching a great series or a movie to take my mind off a vacation for at least a little while. I had a house flood so I’m changing places for a bit and my beloved doggy pets will be boarded. Although I will miss them, I’ll read and relax and maybe take walks at night too. Every little change helps. Watch A History Of Witches on Cable. I’m sorry but I forgot the network. They did such a wonderful job on the whole story. I was fascinated. I’m watching Cable Girls now . So good. I’m doing my best. It’s not easy some days and I cry or get bad anxiety. But every day there could be something beautiful happening. Or to look at. Thank you for your lovely note. It matters ❤️ xo Lynn

        8.6.20 | Reply
  2. Delia wrote:

    Good article! I would hazard to say that making a “choice” to be positive doesn’t work for the majority of people truly struggling…that’s like telling some to just “cheer up!”, lol.

    accusing those struggling of being “reactionary” by not describing their feelings in the correct way? Don’t think so 😂😂😂 Maybe a little less judgment 🥰🥰🥰

    xoxo
    delia

    8.5.20 | Reply
    • Caylin Harris wrote:

      Delia, thank you so much for your thoughtful and constructive feedback—you are absolutely right and I went back in to make changes that better reflect my intentions in writing this piece. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, there is zero judgment on my end and I hope the changes made reflect that. Thank you for being a part of our community here, we’re so happy to have you.

      8.6.20 | Reply
  3. I am a widow who lost a total of 9 family members since losing my husband of 30 years. I had to give up my home, lost my job of 18 1/2 years, broke my tibia and fibula, was involved in a horrendous car accident as were my sons, lost two cars and still waiting for closure on accidents, had 9 eyes surgeries, four ankle surgeries (still unable to walk normally), most family walked away because I have no money for them. I take care of one brother, my sons help take care of me. Three days ago I found out I have a growth on my brain and on my adrenal gland. And through it all I try to remain positive but it is more difficult each day. My financial reserves are gone and I can’t get hired as I am 66. My nickname was happy and I was always upbeat. I wake up scared each day and go to bed each night scared. I’m hard on myself. I don’t want my sons to see my fear.
    Your article has helped. I printed it out and will work on making things better with all of your ideas and tips. Thanks.

    8.9.20 | Reply
    • Caylin Harris wrote:

      Deanne, Thank you so much for the kind words. I am so deeply sorry to hear about how hard life has been for you lately. You’re so incredibly strong. Please take good care of yourself and reach out to your support network when you need it, the link in the beginning of the article might be able to help you find resources in your area. Holding space in my heart for you and wishing you the best.

      8.14.20 | Reply