How To Prioritize Your Mental Health This Summer

By Caylin Harris
5 Aug 2020
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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