In observance of World Mental Health Day today, you’re invited to take a time out and, yes, take a mental health day from all the crazy of our present day.
All throughout history, humans have endured a lot of scary times. Health crises, wars, civil unrest, natural disasters, and more have played out on the world stage. Likewise, the unease, worries and fears that come into our own personal day-to-day lives during “normal” times are stressful enough, but now, they seem to be heightened based on whatever madness is happening “out there.” With news reports coming out daily, often conflicting one another, if not themselves, our mental health is suffering. I think we’re all feeling a bit like, WTF? And, sometimes, we’re even confused about ourselves: We know we aren’t feeling all that great, but we’re not sure what, exactly, the feelings we’re feeling are or why we’re even feeling them.
But guess what? It’s okay…whatever you’re feeling. It. Is. Okay. And you’re not alone.
Life is a bit upside down, or so it seems, with new challenges and obstacles being hurled at us nearly every day. While these experiences may be unprecedented, if we take a step back and shift our perspective, we might just realize that we’ve been here before. We’ve faced uncertainties and unexpected traumas that didn’t come with their own set of rules or a playbook to navigate them. We’ve been led to believe at times that the apocalypse is surely coming our way and that the end is near. Don’t believe it. And here’s proof on why not to:
Remember these tragic events and doomsday prophesies from our past?:
- Y2K: How many months prior to January 1, 2000 did we scramble, worried that entire computer networks would crash and our global economy dependent on computers would fall apart? Did it? No.
- 9/11: The most lethal terrorist attacks in our history that took the lives of 3,000 Americans and international citizens instilled a new kind of fear here and worldwide. Some thought it to be the beginning of the end. Was it? No.
- 2008: The stock market and housing crash caused turmoil and the collapse of our economy. The ensuing global Great Recession had us wondering if we’d ever bounce back. Was that the end of us? No.
- 2012: This was the year that the earth was supposed to collide with a black hole, and it also was the year that the Mayan calendar suggested would be our last, proclaiming that the world in which we lived would end on Dec. 21, 2012. Did it? No.
Life happens. And as much as we wish that only included the good stuff, it doesn’t. Tragedies and heartaches are part of living. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s adage holds true: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Misfortunes and perceived failures are proven to lead to success by making us stronger and more determined to journey on. The key is to keep on keepin’ on.
Our biggest challenges today may not necessarily be the actual events happening; rather, the bombardment of analysis and commentary and social warring of words and conspiracy theories that seem to stalk us 24/7.
So here’s a thought: Don’t let them. You have the power of choice. Will you choose to constantly follow and engage in all that negative nonsense? Or not? This isn’t to say that you stick your head in the sand and become ignorantly bliss. It just means that you stay informed without becoming inundated.
Take your Mental Health Days, starting with today. Here are three simple tips on how to:
- Step Away from the News. Staying informed is great, but not with the onslaught of content coming our way. And a lot of it is misinformation or opinion cloaked as fact. So limit yourself to only 30 minutes each day, set a timer, and stick to it. When you do check news, focus on objective “middle ground” media (yes, there still are a few): Reuters, CSPAN, Associated Press. Try to even go a day without checking your phone. I promise, you won’t miss much — and what you will miss is the anxiety and worry it fuels.
- Give Yourself A Reality Check. Stop listening to the noise. Ground yourself in what you know is true. Simple stuff like what’s outside your window, maybe the birds are singing…? Or in your yard, a tree and flowers are growing. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass. Smell the air or that cup of coffee you’re brewing. Let your dog or cat or bird eat out of your hand. Giggle along with some little kids – I dare you not to when watching this compilation of giggling babies on YouTube. All of these little things really add up to bigger meanings that will root you in what’s real and what matters in life. Try it. You’ll be surprised at the clarity, relief, and freedom it can give you.
- Show Gratitude. Yes, I know, sounds very “woo-woo” but, in truth, it’s actually quite “woo-doo” because feeling anxious and feeling grateful can’t exist in the same space. So when you feel those feelings of fear and worry and “the end is near” (which, just to be clear, it’s not), know that it’s okay to feel them – and then, partner up with grace and giving thanks for everything – big or small – in your life. That morning cup of coffee? Someone holding the door open for you? That little wave someone else gives you for letting their car merge into your lane? Gratitude is the quickest way to peace.