If you haven’t been practicing self-care lately, now is another opportunity to get in the groove and develop the good habit of doing so—Saturday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day. This year it’s particularly critical for taking time to smooth the metaphorical wrinkles caused by chronic stress and anxiety. Our current crisis—and let’s face it, we’ve been in crisis since March—has been especially difficult for those already suffering from mental health issues unrelated to COVID. And just like compound interest builds up your financial reserves faster over time, compound stress can build up quickly, making mental health management more challenging for those who already suffer.
So after taking care of your own welfare, if you’re able to reach out to others in need, I encourage you to do so. Share your self-care tips with others or set up small support group to meet regularly. All you need are two people. Being able to see each other—whether in person practicing safe physical distancing or online using a video conferencing app—has greater mental health benefits than talking on the phone.
If you work in any type of position that continues to keep the economy’s wheels greased, governments running, the lights on, providing caring for others, responding to emergencies, or other front-line work, please be sure to get adequate self-care. Take 10 minutes a day—as often as possible throughout the day—to relax tension, breathe deeply, and clear your mind. And, thank you for your service!
So what is World Mental Health Day? Sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s a recognition that millions of people all over the world suffer from mental health issues of all kinds. To increase our awareness and offer a chance to get involved and show support, WHO is hosting a global online advocacy event on the day. Tune in from one of their social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or TikTok, which you can link to on WHO’s website. The event starts at 10 AM, Eastern Time, and is expected to last three hours. You can tune in any time during the event.
The self-care website, Headspace is also hosting an awareness event. Headspace’s chief music officer, the lovely John Legend, has selected some special tunes to help you get in the self-care zone. Headspace has a free trial, otherwise there’s a small subscription fee. First, check whether your employer’s benefits program offers free access to Headspace (mine does).
One of the ways I practice self-care is by taking a more active role in controlling my negative thoughts. Sometimes I’m like a bulldog with a bone; once a nagging thought is lodged in the jaws of my mind, I don’t want to let it go. A trick I started using years ago to dislodge these nasties, including niggling replays of unpleasant moments in my life, was to say a mantra. My mantras tend to be something like I am love; I am kindness; I am worthy, which I repeat in my head over and over until that beggering Little Me stops antagonizing. Now, years later, I’ve gotten so good at shifting my focus that all I have to do to unclench the negative thoughts when they arise is say in my head stop it! Really, that’s it. It’s like slapping your mind back to what matters. And what matters ain’t that negative crap.
Here’s a quote from the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom I’ve been reading a lot about lately. This one just perfectly sums up what I’m talking about:
Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, and resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.
Who wants to waste time on these unhelpful distractions when we already have enough stress to deal with? Again, use your energy to take at least 10 minutes a day for deep breathing, clearing your mind of thought, or listening to soft music or nature sounds. It’s 10 minutes that will pay you back tenfold, and more, in recouping and maintaining your mental—and physical—wellness. Think of it as compound interest!
If you’re looking for ways to cope with common life issues, check out my new book, The Value of Your Soul: Rumi Verse for Life’s Annoying Moments, in which I suggest different ways of viewing situation, with an eye toward improved coping skills. Take a sneak peek at the first chapter.
Read more about self-care in past blog posts, including articles recently published in online magazines.