Mental Self-Care, starts with the ‘S’ word

Posted by in Self-Care

 

 

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No,  I am not referring to the one in a sentence like I don’t give  a s***. This is anger, careless,  avoidance or denial, and even though this describes a bit what I will talk to you about here, this is not the word.

Before I get to tell you what the word is, let me get a few things out of the way:

  1. Some may also refer to the appellation ‘’intellectual’’ or psychological. Mental, intellectual, psychological, these words will be used interchangeably here. To me, in this blog post, they mean the same thing.
  2. As I am referring to a wellness wheel and as I did, and still do extensive research on anything self-care, I need to give you the list of most physical self-care assessment tools I found out there. This is  a way for me to bring some continuity and also give you access to a quick tool to evaluate where you are at in your life but there is  always more as I do not believe quick self assessments are deep enough to find sustaining healthy solutions.
  • Take day trips or mini-vacations
  • Make time away from telephones, email, and the Internet
  • Make time for self-reflection
  • Notice my inner experience – listen to my thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings
  • Have my own personal psychotherapy
  • Write in a journal
  • Read literature that is unrelated to work
  • Do something at which I am not expert or in charge
  • Attend to minimizing stress in my life
  • Engage my intelligence in a new area, e.g., go to an art show, sports event, theatre
  • Be curious
  • Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

 

We will go back to some of these items later in this post but let’s keep our eyes on the list so we can really address the subject.

  1. Stress’s definition. I want to strongly link our mental wellness and self-care into how we deal with what we call stress. With this in mind, here is what I found that resonates with what I want to talk about.

Merriam Webster partly defines stress as:

‘’A state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.’’

At the Oxford dictionaries dot com, there is this complementary  explanation to the first:

‘’A  state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.’’

 

Now let’s get clear!

So what we are looking for is basically to be mentally sane. Without saying that anybody that live under stress is mentally ill as I know this is not the case, I like to point out the second sentence here on this definition of mental health on medicinenet.com:

‘’Mental health is more than just being free of a mental illness. It is more of an optimal level of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.’’

As we often hear it is not only what happens to you that matters, but mostly how you decide to react to it. And I will stress the word choose.This may be an unconscious choice but the truth is, we can control our mental more than we often do and this is still a choice, whether we like to admit it or not. In my case, anything I learn about something I can control,  I am happy because this means I can change my life’s journey to the best!

Of course there are as many definitions as there are people. One person may say stress is when you have a lot to do, not much time to do itread feeling overwhelmed. Another person might say it’s being unemployed, while a third might say it’s his boss. Most of those stressors refer to how we react to what is happening and are directly linked to our relationship with first and foremost ourselves but also other people, time, space, objects, situations, etc. In the end, it boils down to mainly these few questions:

  • Are life events going as expected?
  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?
  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

In everyday situations,  a lot of us automatically react to stress with the flight or fight response. To me, this is when my essential oils come in handy (The how to is for another post!) However, because we can’t run away from the tiger because there is none, it becomes more of a “rough, tough or ‘’stuff” reaction. We may  feel rough and act irritated or we “stuff” our emotions, and we are also good at toughing it out. Repression, as we know will always come out later in other ways. The biggest and saddest problem with stress is that it accumulates.

At first we can witness some physical or emotional un-ease: headache, difficulty to fall asleep, digestion issues, skin irritation bouts of anxious moments, to name a few. When we are not asking ourselves the critical questions and acting upon the answers to create an appropriate course of action to make sustainable transformation it may lead to physical or mental-emotional dis-ease. For sure, the misalignment is real.

So I am sure you have not forgotten about the s word. Me neither. The word is Simplify. Simplify your life! And by this I mean the many different aspects (8, from the wellness wheel, more or less, as you wish) of your life.

As we feel un-ease  we may need to un-do,  aka change the way we do things in general, recreate a different thinking process as to not repeat the same detrimental experiences consistently. Unplugging literally and figuratively is a good example and metaphor. In some ways this is somewhat similar when we are referring to dis-ease.  We may need to ‘’dis’’ and ‘’de’’ a lot.  dis-connect de-cluttter, dis-charge, dis-engage.

Going back to the questions  above:

  • Are life events going as expected?

We may want to  look at our expectations and see if any of them are  unreasonable, or are questionable in a sense that we can lower them and we can still be happy. I am sure most of the time we can lower our expectations down a few notches. I am also sure we can still be happy when things do not turn out like we had planned. I am not saying I can do this easily. Not-at-all!

This is where the perfectionists in us will have difficulty. This is where we need to release control and let life flow. This is where we ought to simplify our to do list, ‘’forget’’ a few things and still be content.  For my oil fans, this is where you want your cypress nearby as a reminder.

Mothers! Yes you! You know deep down in your heart that your children would rather have your fullest attention when they share a wonderful discovery rather than have you make sure the counter is cleaned up right after lunch. Yep! This was me a lot when my kids were younger and this is still me from time to time. We need to go see behind the need for cleanliness here. What is it we are avoiding?

  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?

In order to find an answer to  this question, we need to first clarify our values. This in itself is quite a process, an important one that is. For this reason, I  will make sure we address this either in a blog post series but most probably in a webinar and playshop program. Let’s say though that at least asking ourselves this question is the first step towards clarity. When we have clarity we have what is needed to  head in the right direction: a map!

  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

This is another huge question, I know one that I cannot briefly go into. No wonder why? this is the work of a lifetime! Another program on it’s way! One clue, notice when you feel the most joyful, what you really like to do when there is not time nor money constraint. This is a great first observation.

So when overwhelm comes your way de-stress and ask yourself one of these additional questions:

  • Where is the dis-connect and where do I need to really disconnect?
  • Where and when can I create stronger boundaries and say no? to others, to activities, to more stuff?

What can I de-clutter?  

  • My address book or contact list (relationship)
  • My space (stuff)
  • My planner (activities)

Relating to your life purpose or values you can ask: ‘’How does this (activity, person thing) add value to my life or serve my higher purpose?’’ Those are not always easy questions to find answers to but they are surely the ones that will render you more happiness once you find the answer.

Now enough said, this is your turn! Share you thoughts and tips so we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.