This week, I want to talk about mental health.
There is a quote attributed to Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
Admittedly, the present isn’t too peaceful at the moment. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now, and we’re all experiencing real anxiety over how to stay healthy, how to keep our finances together, and how to stay connected while keeping an eye on what’s happening in other parts of the country and world. It’s so easy to get swept up in a tornado of worry, and then it basically just derails your whole day.
So I want to share with you a few simple exercises to help you feel more grounded and relaxed, whenever you need it most, so you can focus and move forward with positivity.
1) Return To The Present
I love this powerful quote, “Anxiety is a future-based emotion.” We often think of anxiety as this big entity, and in terms of mental health, it can be, but it’s also an emotion. And just like other emotions, it is energy and it can come and go. But you need to learn how to redirect your attention from this gremlin.
Try this mindfulness exercise the next time you find yourself spiraling into uneasiness and anxiety over what could happen in the year to come. It’s called “Five Senses” or the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
- Take a deep belly breath.
- Look around for 5 things that you can see, and acknowledge each one either aloud or silently in your head. It doesn’t matter what items you select, just pick the first 5 you see.
- Now focus on your body and think of 4 things you can feel right now. Acknowledge each one either aloud or silently. Again, no judgement on what you pick.
- Listen for 3 sounds and list those the same way.
- Now notice 2 things you can smell.
- Finally, list 1 thing you can taste.
- Finish the exercise with another deep belly breath.
2) Make Yourself Priority Number One
It can be overwhelming to think of an ever-expanding to-do list all at once. I swear, it seems to grow three sizes just on the power of thought alone. 😉
Don’t delegate away your peace. Before you get lost in the shuffle trying to check as many things off as possible, make yourself a priority first.
Ask yourself, “What can I do today that’s going to help me feel good in my body right now? What can I do today that will help me feel more connected to my spirit? What will help spark my creativity and joy?” Once you find the answer, that is to-do number one!
By asking yourself these questions, you can center your energy around tasks that will inspire and support you, not bring you added anxiety. Sure, there will always be daily tasks we all dread, but when we ensure a little time for ourselves each day, you’ll end the night with a feeling of satisfaction.
3) Practice Self-Compassion
Another grounding exercise is the use of affirmations or mantras. There is something very moving about intentionally speaking positive words to and about yourself out loud. It can boost your mental health and confidence when hearing praise, no matter the source. And don’t shy away from using your own name.
Here are a few examples:
“Moniqua, I know things are tough right now, and you’ll make it work.”
“You’re a badass, Moniqua, and you can get through this.”
“Morning, gorgeous Goddess Moniqua. Let’s kick today’s ass!”
Okay, that last one was more for fun, but it’s still true! You can choose whatever motivates you.
Learn how to create your own affirmations here.
It may seem simple, but these little phrases help interrupt your negative self-talk patterns, pull you out of your head, and bring your focus back to the present.
There are so many other simple ways to soothe a worried mind, like taking a bath, walking in nature or cuddling with a pet. What are your favorite ways to ground yourself in difficult times? What other concerns do you have about caring for your mental health and well-being?
Sound off in the comments below.
LOVE + a peaceful present!
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