Good Mental Health is a moving target……
Don’t let some snazzy Facebook meme lure you into the idea that you NEED to do this or you NEED to have that for good mental health. While there are a lot of time-tested strategies that may be helpful, your best bet is to do a self-evaluation of you, your life, and your moods. Evaluate your life with two general questions: what adds stress and what buffers stress?
What adds stress? Think through this past week to when you were at your “worst”. What was contributing to it? Certain people, tasks, environments, roles, or responsibilities? It could be something that is present or something that is absent? See if any of these things ring true or help you think of other aspects that matter to you.
- Were you avoiding someone because they are really aggravating or annoying?
- Did you find your body getting extremely tense when you were doing a task, like giving a lecture or presentation?
- Have you noticed that interactions in a specific relationship trigger thoughts of feeling incompetent or dumb?
- Were you agonizing and procrastinating over completing a seemingly simple task?
- Did you notice your energy dropped off because your friend or spouse was out of town?
- Have you noticed that your patience dramatically decreases in specific situations?
- Do you exercise to burn off excess stress but have been too busy recently?
- Are you eating more often and without as much intentionality
These are all possible signs that you are experiencing stress, that you have things that are adding to your stress, that you are responding out of stress, and you may need to increase your stress buffers. Ultimately, your stress buffers are simply going to be things that help reduce either the source of stress or the response to the stress. This may differ for people because we are wired differently. For me, I am recharged with quiet time to myself whereas you may be recharged by hanging out with a group of people. The better you understand yourself, the more specific you can create your stress buffers.