How do I take care of my Mental Health?
‘In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.’
This is the instruction we hear from the cabin crew of an airplane. And as a Therapist and Mental Space Psychologist I follow this instruction and focus on taking care of my mental health before guiding a client.
‘How do you do it Gayatri?’ I’ve been asked this question many a times.
Many people think that I am always in a happy space and that’s not true. I do feel upset, low, angry and lonely. However, instead of pushing away or fighting or controlling the emotions, I’ve trained my brain to sit with the uncomfortable emotions and process it fully. This reduces the intensity of the emotions and helps me to navigate through a challenge in a useful way.
In today’s post I want to share few things that I practice every day for my mental and emotional wellbeing.
As you are reading this post, I want you to pause…. and pay attention to your breath. Gently become aware of the way you are breathing now….is it shallow and fast or is it slow and deep….?
And that’s what I do many times a day.
The first thing I do after waking up is consciously pay attention to my breath. I inhale through my nose and exhale fully from my mouth. I practice diaphragm breathing that allows me to take a fuller and deeper breath. This relaxes my pre-frontal cortex of the brain and helps me to be more focused.
I’ve set reminders on my phone and after every hour, I do few deep breathing activities.
Here’s a video that could be helpful
2. Connecting with Nature-
Though we can’t go out, we could create a space indoors where we can connect to nature.
My bedroom window is my peaceful place. Many times, a day, I open the windows, sit there and watch the trees sway to the wind and stare at the sky. It helps me feel grounded, protected and connected.
Maybe you could buy indoor plants or flowers or find a way in which you can connect with nature.
3. Stretching and movement-
Gyms are shut and I don’t prefer to go for walks. So, these days I practice yoga, stretches, gentle movement activities or dance at home. It improves the mind-body connection and helps me stay centered.
4. Planning my breaks-
Yes, you heard it right, I plan my breaks.
I heard about this concept from George Kao in one of his videos and really loved this idea.
We spend time planning our work and creating multiple to-do lists. How about planning our breaks? My work day usually involves the use of social media, talking to clients, emails and one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.
Then I have my household chores, time with my daughter, husband, calling family members and staying connected with friends.
I ensure that I have at least a 15-minute breaks between each call.
During the break I take a nap, stretch, meditate, doodle, listen to instrumental music or read a book.
5. Consumption of news-
We are hearing the same news through different spaces. There’s WhatsApp, Social Media, Newspapers and then T.V. This repetition of news could lead to high and intense emotions which I wouldn’t want to experience.
So, I’ve intentionally unfollowed people on social media, exited WhatsApp groups and have reduced the consumption of information.
I have few blogs and Instagram pages from where I get the regular updates. I check it twice a day and save any important information.
6. Food & Sleep-
I prefer making quick and healthy meals like one-pot rice or paranthas or stir-fry vegetables and rotis. These days I prefer salads as they are super quick to prepare and cooling for the body. I practice mindful eating, paying attention to the food that I am eating instead of watching the T.V or surfing the net. This also helps me to become aware of my eating patterns.
I struggled to sleep for over 18 years and I know how that affected my mental and physical health. So, I prioritize my sleep. I listen to instrumental music, meditate or tell stories to my family. It’s a lovely relaxing ritual that we have built around sleep.
7. Monitoring my Self-talk-
On days when I feel low or upset, I check my self-talk. Usually, I’m replaying something someone said or something that I heard in the news or it’s my own voice telling me things in a particular tonality and speed. I change the tonality, work with the speed and the location of these voices and I notice I feel better. I’d highly recommend this book for further reading.
8. Connecting with other therapist friends-
And let me confess, there have been days when I haven’t been able to manage it all by myself and on those days, I reach out to a friend from my community of therapists and coaches. It’s amazing to have someone hold space and listen to me. I usually get new perspectives and insights from our interaction.
So that’s how I take care of my mental health. There are days when I am able to practice this easily and there are days when I struggle. Last week was tough with back-to-back news of death. And I found it tough to sleep. I focused on changing something in my environment. I lit up a candle and an incense stick and allowed the fragrance to ground me. It felt calming.
How are you practicing self-care and what are you doing to take care of your mental and emotional well-being?
I would lover to hear from you.
Love & Light,