2020 has been, and appears to be, the most surprising year I’ve ever had. That likely surprises no one.
A friend of mine recently asked if I could share some mental health self-care tools with her. Where do I start, I thought to myself!
I gave her three suggestions and encouraged her to keep things simple.
1. Take scheduled breaks from thinking. Please read that again. This does not necessarily mean that you sit for meditation. You can be doing an activity (e.g., washing the dishes), but do it without thinking. Turn your thoughts off for 10-15 minutes at a time. It could be hard, as your mind will want you to pay attention to it and will try cleverly to lure you back into thinking about something/anything! It most likely is not urgent. If it is urgent, attend to it. If it is not urgent, practice, practice, practice observing your thoughts without jumping on the tempting hamster wheel of incessant thinking.
2. Express your thoughts creatively. Could you express your thoughts through dance, written expression, art, a musical instrument, singing, etc.? If you like basketball, you could try dribbling and moving with the basketball in a way that is an expressive form vs. technically correct.
To start small, you might allow your feelings to express through simple movements (e.g., swaying back and forth, shrugging your shoulders up and down, tapping your foot on the ground). It’s similar to how we move when we hear music we like. Try it.
By expressing yourself in such a way, you might realize that all thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and triggers stem from inside, not outside of you. If they occur within you, then surely these feelings and thoughts can be calmed/soothed/reflected inside of you, as well.
3. Read others’ words. Set the mood and read something inspirational or fun. Revisit your favorite book as an adult or better yet, adventure to your favorite childhood book. Could you light a candle, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, bring out those thick winter socks, and unplug?
There’s too much noise in this world and often too much noise inside our heads. We were not born with this noise inside; we slowly develop it over a period of time and gradually identify with the noise. We think we are the noise. Learning to witness yourself and others without explanation or judgment is freedom. Give yourself permission to witness your own experience.
Life gives us all an opportunity to express who we are, or who it is we think we are. Yet, You are not what you think. You are not your thoughts. You are not what you feel. You are not your feelings. You are not your actions. You are not your behaviors. You are the magnificence behind all of those things. That magnificence You are, allows you to create. Every moment, you are creating in this world. The key is to create intentionally, lovingly, and without expectations.
Photograph by Soundtrap