Hi friends, I want to talk to you today about mental health and self-care. We are going into a really stressful week right now. Coronavirus cases and deaths are climbing, and tension around this election has been building for months and months. There’s a lot to be anxious about!
Today is a good time to think about how we can get through this week in a way that lowers our stress and is kind to ourselves. I’m talking to myself here, as well as all of you. What kind of self-care can I do to help myself this week?
Here are some of my ideas:
- Spend sometime outside, even a few minutes here and there. I did that more than I ever have this past summer, sometimes just going out and sitting in my back yard for a bit. It was an emotionally hard summer of grief and learning to live alone. Being outside opened me up, reminded me of this big beautiful world.
Look at the trees, a garden, the sky. Listen to critters and neighborhood sounds. All this helps bring me back to the present moment and lower my cortisol. Here in Minnesota it’s going to be sunny and warmer this week, so i want to enjoy that and practice calmness.
2. Distract yourself. I am intending to not watch any of the election coverage tomorrow night. In the past, I’ve felt so anxious watching all the results dribbling in and all the speculation. It’s designed to be sensationalistic. Watching won’t do me any good, and it won’t change the outcome. Sooner or later I’ll know the results. It’s better to distract myself and calm my anxiety.
I was counting on having my regular therapy and a support group appointments tomorrow and they were canceled darn it. Now I have holes to fill in my day. I’m thinking today about what I can do that will help me instead of harm me. Here’s my list of possibilities so far: I can watch a movie, make some art, call a friend, read a book. That will be better for me.
3. Try to stay in the present moment and away from worrying. Worrying and making up worst-case scenarios in my head don’t help me– they escalate my stress. Things I worry about usually never happen, so I stress myself out for nothing (I have a very active and dramatic imagination!).
Instead, I can ground myself, come back to my body, breathe deep calming breaths, and tune into my senses. That keeps me in the here and now. I can pet my cats and enjoy their soft fur. I can listen to music to suit my mood. Go for a walk and work off some stress through movement. Taste some delicious food. Knit to have my hands busy and put me in a meditative state.
I hope you’ll give it some thought, how you can care for yourself this week. What will work for you? Plan ahead a little, and let’s lower the stakes. I know there’s such big stuff going on, hard stuff. But in this moment, just for this moment, I can be okay. There are a lot of good people around me, and we will get through this. And hopefully by doing self care and having some peace within ourselves, it will have a ripple effect out into our communities.
Take care, my friends! And please comment about what’s going on for you this week.
[Photos by me.]
Thanks for this Theresa…I’ve been getting stressed. My blood pressure was up a little more than. usual…It’s usually lower. Anyway, these suggestions are very healing. And yes, you are right, why stress about it in little bits when the outcome will be revealed at some point. At this point there isn’t anything we can do about it. But we can take care of ourselves. I think, maybe, I’ll start painting my rooms. I’ve got two buckets of paint sitting there staring at me…it will be nice to see the change. Also I have fallen in love with my Cricut, making all kinds of nice little things to send my sisters and my cousins (and I need your address). It’s not a big thing…it’s like a fancy bookmark or a paper village for the holidays. Are. you reading short stories in French? Have you ever read The Little Prince in the original language? Wow. Take care of yourself and thanks for. your suggestions…cuz, Linda.
Oh, I’m sorry you’ve been stressed, Linda– we have all been through so much with all of this. I’m glad if something I’ve said helps. I love the idea of you painting and making your rooms nice. I have just started reading the book of French short stories– I have a French conversation partner and we both have the book and are going to use it to learn. I think I read Le Petit Prince in high school. Take care, Cousin!
Beautiful plans, and you’ve seriously made me rethink watching election returns tonight. My viewing won’t change the outcome and it won’t be fun. My day is packed with activities, from joyful (Zooming with my baby at college) to healthy (working out) to useful (getting a lab test done, working a phone bank), and we’re getting pizza for dinner. I now need a good plan for after 7 p.m. My husband will text me ongoing results from his study, where he’ll be hunkered down all night, I truly don’t need to watch it all myself. Thanks for helping me reconsider my approach!
Oh good, I’m glad my ideas sparked something for you. I am teaching myself ukulele tonight (super fun) and resolutely not looking at news. I know I’d be a wreck if I was. Sounds like a lovely day you’ve had!
This is so beautiful, Theresa! I love that you are sharing the discoveries that have come out of your hard work with all of us–and it is really helpful to me to have your fresh eyes on what is possible in the next hard days, weeks, months…(okay, will stop!) I have had a variety of “summer camp” activities that have gotten me through the past months–and I am now retooling for winter and the holidays–seeking new ways to be calm and productive. I love what you are doing–and I wish you many moments of peace and joy in the WTH! to come.
Thanks so much, Mary!@ I love he idea of “summer camp activities”… and morphing them to have winter activities. Peace and joy to you too!