The U.S. is primarily a doing culture. Often times, the destination is valued more than the journey. When we use different behavioral strategies to help us calm down and refocus, we learn that the journey is the most important part of the destination. The journey is where we learn and get better. So we pay attention to where we are (mentally, emotionally, physically) right now and what we can do this very moment to help us get where we’d like to be. Here are five behavioral strategies to help you out:
1. Grounding yourself – one important way to ground yourself is by using your five senses to observe where you are right now in this very moment. There are different variations of this exercise. One method is to use each of your five senses, one at a time, to describe in detail what you notice around you. The point is to go as slow as you can. By doing so, you can calm down your internal physiology as well as reduce scattered, unproductive thoughts.
2. Exercise – the benefits of exercise are plenty. Considering the mind-body-spirit is an interdependent system, physical exercise is crucial for your brain to produce feel-good hormones and for you to feel good in your own skin. Start small in order to build up a consistent exercise practice. Here’s a great article on exercise’s benefits on mental health and overall wellbeing (Mental Health Benefits of Exercise). Note: it is important to follow your medical provider’s guidance on exercise for any existing or potential health concerns you have.
3. Rhythm – rhythm is one of my favorite words. It sounds cool, the spelling is fun, and when you find your rhythm or flow in a healthy activity, you’ve hit the sweet spot. Rhythmic activities can help us self-soothe, be productive, and feel great. Some ideas of healthy soothing activities include: knitting, strumming a guitar, painting, deep breathing, swimming, dribbling a basketball, going to the driving range, dancing, walking, and writing.
4. Talk to a friend – we are social creatures. Open up, listen to someone you trust, collaborate. If a friend is not available, sit with yourself in front of a mirror and have an honest conversation with yourself. Look at yourself. Listen to yourself. Get real if you need to take accountability. Give yourself a pep talk if you need encouragement or reassurance. You may also write to yourself. Writing to myself is one of the most important things I do. It makes me pause, check-in, and give to myself what I give professionally to clients and personally to close family and friends: attention and dedication.
5. Create daily rituals – we are all graced with 24 hours in our day; no more or no less until our very last breath. So what you do within these 24 hours is significant. Morning routines and evening rituals help you become consistent with what you need to do every day (i.e., eat, provide for yourself and/or your family, sleep, self-care, relax, exercise, interact with others). Treat yourself kindly by setting yourself up for success. What do you need to set yourself up for success? Do you need to meal prep; use a planner to organize your day/week with work, family, friend, and self-care activities; hydrate; do morning yoga; commit to afternoon cardio; balance with evening meditation; schedule a 10-minute power nap; engage in prayer; open that book?
The reason why I’ve outlined these different strategies are in hopes that you consistently practice one or two of your own choosing and make them a part of your daily/weekly self-care practice. Remember that we practice in order to become skilled at something. Here’s to you and your health!