Updated: Sep 21, 2020
During last week's post, we discussed How to Choose a Mental Health Therapist. It is important for us to recognize that no one feels good all the time, and sometimes we can feel bad for quite some time. If we are willing to name and acknowledge the pain that we feel, we can focus our energy on processing our pain, which allows it to dissipate over time.
Avoidance of pain will intensify it, leading to depression and suicidal thoughts. We all must work diligently to cleanse our mind/body/emotions/spirit everyday.
My clients often put me on a pedestal, as if I was born an energetic health practitioner. The truth is that I practice Qigong because I tend to be extremely driven (Type A), anxious and impatient. For me, Qigong and setting reminder notifications are ways of consciously putting into practice counter strategies to balance my potentially negative tendencies, thoughts and actions. By accepting myself as I truly am (darkness and light), I can focus on developing my strengths and bringing light to any darkness lurking inside. It is important for us to become aware of our immediate responses to negative thoughts. Developing a mental health self-care toolkit is a way to ensure that we always have a counter strategy available. Listed below are 5 suggestions to help you get started on your path to radiant mental health.
1. Develop a mental health self-care tool kit based on your unique personality and tendencies. Get a friend to help you if possible. Suggestions can include, but are certainly not limited to:
Seeking professional counseling from a mental health practitioner such as a Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Marriage & Family Therapist, Clinical Social Worker, Psychiatric Nurse, etc.
Calling a trusted friend when you feel triggered
Having positive affirmations around the house and with you at all times
Taking a walk outside for at least 5 minutes, preferably in nature
2. Have a non-negotiable daily practice.
3. When in pain … reframe! It is important for us to be honest with ourselves. “I am sad” is not true, “I feel sad” is true. “I can’t stand the pain” is not true. “I can barely stand the pain is true.” We can then breathe into our true feelings and sit with them until they begin to dissipate. Thoughts about the past are not real because the past is now dead. Thoughts about the future are not real because no one can know the future. Drop unreal thoughts by acknowledging that they are not real and practicing one of the other exercises listed in this blog.
4. Pain release exercise (follow these instructions):
Do a relaxing breathing exercise for a few minutes
Listen for the sound of your heart beat
Reframe thoughts so that they reflect reality. You are not your pain, but you feel your pain. Acknowledge what is real.
Search your body for where you think that pain is located.
Touch the spot of pain if you can and take a slow deep breath. Hold the breath for a few seconds and release. Repeat until the pain shifts slightly.
5. Avoid knee jerk reactions at all costs. The best way to do this is to remember:
Breathe, pause, then speak.
Breathe, pause, then act.
Breathe, pause, then choose your thoughts. We may think that our thoughts are randomly infecting us, but if we slow down long enough, we’ll realize that we are actually choosing our thoughts. If a thought is yours to choose, why not choose an empowering thought this time?
Mental Health Resources
The shareable links below offer a wide array of resources through breathing, movement, lifestyle habits and counseling to assist you in your mental health care toolkit journey:
How to Care for Your Nervous System While Sheltering in Place (interview with chiropractor)
If the pain began inside of us, then freedom from our pain also exists inside of us.
Whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong. - Lao Tzu