As the topic of mental health becomes more popular by the day, phrases like “prioritize your mental health” and “check in with yourself” are being used constantly, but what does it mean and how do we apply it to our very hectic schedules?
As the Founder of the mental health organization, Listen, Lucy, an advocate, a wife, a mother of two little kids, and someone who lives with mental illness, I know how daunting and impossible it feels to add one more thing to the chaos. I also know what it is like to crash and burn because I couldn’t figure out how to manage my anxiety. We all need to find a happy medium.
I have a few great coping techniques to share with you that I have been using for almost 20 years. The best part about them is that they are quick, easy, and accessible.
- Breathing techniques. I cannot express to you enough how important my breathing technique has become. For almost 20 years, I have been breathing in for 6 seconds, holding it for 8 seconds, and breathing out for 4 seconds on repeat. There are so many different versions of breathing techniques out there. Find the right one for you and you can cope with anxiety, a bit better, from anywhere.
- Fresh air. There are no two ways about it, Covid disrupted our routines and a lot of us stayed inside for days at a time, never getting out to breathe in fresh air. While that wasn’t the case for those in the healthcare industry, I can’t imagine the true chaos and burnout you have all endured through the worst of it and the aftermath. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to walk outside, without your phone if possible, and breathing in that fresh air is a way to separate for a minute without disrupting the work day.
- Exercise and healthy eating. We know how important exercise is for our physical health, but it has always served my mental health because it is my sanctuary and a place of my version of meditation. It is my time to shut the rest of the world out, blast my favorite music, and let my mind rest. Now when it comes to my diet, I am a girl that loves a slice of pepperoni pizza and a giant bag of Doritos, but everything in moderation. I find that when I eat healthy, I feel good physically. When I feel good physically, I can focus mentally.
- Apps. By a show of hands, how many of you have cell phones? (That’s a little joke I like to do when I am speaking in person. I am not sure it translates to text, but I hope you laughed.) There are so many apps and websites on your phone that are wildly beneficial and right at your fingertips. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Xhalr.com (breathing technique)
- TalkSpace (therapy)
- HeadSpace (meditation)
- BetterHelp (therapy)
There are so many other options for coping techniques out there and I would venture to say I have tried most of them. I chose these specific ones to share with you because I wanted to be realistic on your approach and give you options that are doable without making major adjustments to your life. They are things that may have slipped down on the priority list without noticing how they could negatively impact your mental health.
In case it has been a while since someone has told you, what you do is so important. How you showed up for your community during the pandemic was so heroic. Feeling overwhelmed or anxious or depressed – or whatever you are feeling– is so valid. Please, take some time to prioritize yourself. To check in and to make small, digestible steps to improving how you are doing mentally. You deserve the attention and support that you all so freely give to others.
If you would like more ideas, I have tons of them. Feel free to email me at [email protected].