Mental health is something that I have very strong feelings about. We all have been touched by the darkness that can come from ignoring, stigmatizing, and not prioritizing our own mental health. Since my work has me talking with business owners daily, I get to see how we are faced with unique situations where we can elect to fight for our mental health, or to put it on the back burner.
Let’s fight for it.
First and foremost, seeking help is the STRONGEST and most POWERFUL thing you can do when faced with compromised mental health. If you need to talk, here are some great help-lines you can call: https://www.nami.org/find-support/nami-helpline
The things I’m about to share are personal, and based on my own experiences. Everyone, every business, every life is unique. Please, be honest and kind with yourself. Dig deep, answer the tough questions, and allow yourself space to heal.
How I protect my mental health as a business owner:
I do 4-7-8 breathing to help ground myself. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold that breath for seven seconds, breathe out for eight seconds. It’s so simple, but it has helped keep me present, focused, and balanced in recent days.
I am a talker. I process feelings best by talking through them. If I’m not ready to talk to a person about the feelings, I talk to myself. Out loud. In private. During this quarantine, that often happens while I’m doing the dishes or running a bath. Quietly speaking through my feelings to myself often untangles a lot of mental debris, and lets me process things more fully.
This is the one I am going to be working on for my whole life. Knowing when to allow a person/situation/project space is not my strong suit. I am constantly reminding myself to step away when I start feeling the anxiety creep in too far. For me, exiting has meant: walking away from a conversation, saying no to a potential client, and pausing a frustrating project. I’ve been glad to note that when I’ve listened to my gut and exited a situation, the “guilt” I’ve felt afterwards is SO MUCH LESS TAXING than the mental anguish of remaining in the situation. That doesn’t mean I have felt no guilt about those exits, but it means I chose the path that exerts less pressure and takes less of a toll on my mental health. Sometimes, there is no stress free or perfect route, but there is always a route that allows you to prioritize mental health.
Knowing when I’m “too anxious” or not mentally ready to tackle a situation has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned (and am still learning) as an adult. I recognize that I’m becoming too anxious or upset when my neck begins hurting a certain way, when I cannot laugh, or when my heart is racing and making my stomach twitch. Mental health is physical health, and when I observe these physical signs I know I need to determine what is causing them.
It seems I’m always hearing: “Take time for YOU!” “Self care is important!” “Me time is productive, too!” which I 100% agree with and believe in….but I find difficult to put in practice. So, I started focusing less on carving out swaths of time for “Me Time,” but focusing instead on shifting my mental attitude to a more gentle tone. In being more gentle, I’ve discovered I can be more honest with myself about my needs.
Not Gentle: “I want to take a long soak in the tub, but that’s a waste of time and I have too much to do. I don’t need a bath.”
Gentle: “I recognize my desire to not be working right now. I’m going to do something else for 15 minutes.”
Not Gentle: “This project looks like garbage, what am I even doing?”
Gentle: “I’m focused on negative things, I need to shift my attitude because those negative things are not true.”
I’ve been amazed how changing the narrative has allowed me to realign myself and start becoming my own champion inside my head. Getting back to the basics of breathing and listening to myself have been my lifelines during these unique times. During this quarantine, I am so grateful to be in a loving home with access to technology to connect with the world. Even though there are so many good and beautiful things in life, I keep coming back to those deep calming breaths and that honest, kind, gentle inner dialog.
No matter how aware I am of good things in the world, my mental health crumbles if the voice inside me isn’t being honest or kind. If I am not the one putting my internal mental health first, no amount of external “good” will help. I let this guide me as we navigate these uncharted waters.
If you need someone to talk to, you can send me a message or email. Let’s hold space for each other during these real and trying times.
How are you protecting your mental health? I’d love to hear your methods!
Stay home, stay safe
Stay Bad Axe,