How To Create A Mental Health Self-Care Toolkit

Updated: 2 days ago

If the pain began inside of us, then freedom from our pain also exists inside of us. ☥ Dr. Phyllis Shu Hubbard ☥

Most of us recognize the importance of the tools needed for everyday living. We take the time to invest in a wide array of tools such as computers, cars, pens, silverware, hammers, screwdrivers, rulers and so much more. We collect these tools and keep them in our homes, cars, purses, backpacks, etc. because we know that at some point we will need these tools to help us solve a problem. I refuse to leave my home without a tube of lip balm in my purse, and I'm serious about my lip balm. It must be organic with a certain list of ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

As a healer, I have often marveled over our willingness to shop for, try out/on, investigate, experiment with and learn how to use these tangible tools. Yet, we give little or no time/attention to cultivating the intangible tools needed to solve mental, emotional and spiritual challenges. How do we demystify and heal our emotions in order to stay mentally fit?

When was the last time that we asked ourselves the following?

What tool do I use at the onset of a traumatic event?

What tool can help me process grief, forgiveness, jealousy or anxiety?

After many years of grappling with ways to help people become aware of this missing link so that they can heal and rebalance their lives, I created the metaphor of the mental health self-care toolkit.

The mental health self-care toolkit is a series of customized counterstrategies that we implement to acknowledge, process and heal mental, emotional and spiritual challenges.

People often put me on a pedestal, as if I were born a peaceful, yet energetic body whisperer. The truth is that I practice Qigong because I tend to be extremely driven in the pursuit of excellence which can lead to anxiety and impatience. Daily Qigong practice is one of my primary mental health self-care tools. Because I accept myself as I truly am (darkness and light), I can celebrate the areas where I'm rocking it in life and strengthen the areas needing improvement without hesitation or shame.

Although we can have up to 60,000 thoughts per day, they are mostly the same thoughts as the day before and 80% of those thoughts are negative. Where do these negative regurgitated thoughts come from? Is our mind running on default? If we don't know how to use a specific computer program, choosing the default software may be a good way to start. However, allowing our minds to run on default can lead to poor choices that brings cyclical pain, grief and trauma into our lives because we are not addressing our challenges at their root cause. A person who has a mind running on default might say:

I had a rough day; I need a drink!

I’m sorry you didn’t make the team, here, have some ice cream.

I have a headache; I need an aspirin.

These statements are problematic because:

☥ After the drink, we have weakened our liver with alcohol and neglected to solve the

challenges that arose from our "rough day."

☥ After the ice cream, we are now full of calories that we need to work off, on a downer from

the sugar rush and have no strategy for improving ourselves so that we can make the team the next time the opportunity presents itself. This mode of default thinking is especially harmful when we teach it to our children because they quickly learn to pacify themselves with an addictive substance, such as sugar, which could set them up for

addictions/addictive behaviors later in life.

☥ After the aspirin wears off, our headache returns, which could have been caused by factors that have nothing to do with taking an aspirin such as hunger, dehydration, toxins in the colon, improper breathing, lack of movement, etc.

The drink, ice cream or aspirin may temporarily pacify us, but when the problem returns we often fail to recognize that our running takes us right back to our original challenge because we continue to engage in distracting behaviors. If this cycle continues, our bodies will gradually become weaker, our mind becomes dull, we'll gain weight, our pain will increase - which causes more distractions - and we still will not have solved our challenges.

This blind, unconscious reach for something to anesthetize ourselves is at the root cause of imbalances in our mental, emotional and spiritual lives. Would we be willing to commit to another set of behaviors that allows us to acknowledge and process pain as it occurs without becoming overwhelmed?

Getting Off The Gerbil's Wheel

A solution that will help us get off of the gerbil's wheel would be to develop a mental health self-care tool kit based on our unique personality and tendencies. Suggestions can include, but are certainly not limited to:

☥ Seeking professional counseling from a mental health practitioner such as a Licensed

Professional Counselor, Psychologist, Rape Therapist/Sexual Abuse Counselor, Marriage

and Family Therapist, Clinical Social Worker, Psychiatric Nurse, etc.  

☥ Calling a trusted friend when you feel emotional angst

☥ Having positive affirmations around the house and with you at all times

Exploring how to demystify and heal emotions

☥ Taking a walk for at least 5 minutes, when feeling off balance, preferably in nature

☥ Doing relaxing or energizing breathing exercises