January is mental wellness month.
May is mental health awareness month. September is suicide prevention month; and the list goes on. While it is an extraordinary achievement in the mental health realm to have all of these designated outreach campaigns during specific months where we can all come together and advocate as one, the truth is that every second, hour, day, month, and year should be the time for mental health awareness.
Even being a mental health advocate for many years now, I too struggle with practicing self-consciousness and care on a daily basis. We often get caught up in our lives, thoughts, goals, and responsibilities and merely excuse it as not having the time. But you, and I, are just lying to our selves.
Hear me out, because I know some of you are thinking to yourselves that I just don’t get it. All of the business men and women, the lawyers, the retail workers, the museum owners, the restaurant crews etc. who eat, sleep (maybe) and breathe his/her work, cannot possibly have the time to practice self-care, or mental wellness. This is an entirely false statement; get it out of your heads!
You need to shower right? Even if you’re timing yourself in between answering emails, take three deep breaths during the 30 seconds you spend massaging shampoo into your hair, and another two while you condition. This small act will calm your breathing, relax your mind, and help you refocus.
You’re constantly on the move, or sitting at your desk. Either way, you still have 10 seconds to roll your head in a circle first clockwise then counterclockwise, roll your shoulders four times, and shift your rib cage to the right, then to the left, and repeat. Yes, I clocked it.
As soon as you wakeup, coffee is number one. Well, its time to make it number two. Drink one 8 oz. cup of water post awakening. If you’re not fond of water, have slices of lemon, cucumber, or your favorite fruit on hand in the refrigerator that you could toss in. You can accomplish all of this in the three minutes it takes for the pot of coffee to brew. If you’re using a Keurig, you can still make it work. I did it.
Those of you who have animal companions, think of nothing other than petting them and playing with his/her favorite toy. If you have a pet, you should be exercising and stimulating them, in addition to providing unconditional love, as much as possible. Not only does this enhance his/her well being, but yours too. Win-win.
Some other super quick and convenient self-care strategies can include listening to a meditation song on your drive to work. Take the train? Use your earphones. Sitting in the conference room waiting for your late co-workers? Using your pointer, middle, and index fingers to rub the center of the back of your neck in a circular motion. Using your pointer and middle fingers, rub the portion behind your ears vertically, and then use the same circular technique on your temples. This will immediately induce a state of relaxation and pleasure.
As I use a bit of humor in this, I’m sure you have caught on to my point. Nobody is too busy to practice some form of self-care. You may not have the time nor money to do two yoga sessions a week, or have the knees of steel needed for a spinning class, but you do have the time for smaller, simpler techniques that work for yourself, and your lifestyle. You MUST have time for your mental health, because if you don’t, everything else follows suit.
And what good are you to yourself, and everyone else, without your health?