Updated: Jun 3, 2022
As May and “Mental Health Awareness month” come to a close, I don’t know about you, but I was tested more than ever the last 31 days.
If you watched the news, you know that we had several mass shootings in this country within weeks of each other. All resulting in people getting killed – Buffalo, NY (10), Laguna, CA (1) and Uvalde, Tx (21 with 19 of those being children). Innocent people doing everyday things whose lives were taken away. I moved from tears of sadness to anger and then back to tears of sadness as the details about these incidents became clearer and we learned about the victims.
Also, like many of you, over the last month I found myself engaging in more frequent activities involving larger numbers of people - from being back at church physically, attending a “Derby” gathering, to a college graduation, and then a leadership conference for work. I’m also going into the office more often which brings a whole other level of stress - “I like driving during rush hour traffic” says NO ONE! I am also at the age where parenting my parents is real. Oftentimes their need to be independent and my need to have order and do things in my time are in conflict.
So, what can you do if you want to keep your mental health in check? You make a plan and set some rules for yourself. I can sense some of you rolling your eyes as you read the statement “make a plan.” I know who you are (LOL)! Note that every plan is not required to be written, however, it should be manageable so it does not add to your stress.
My plan this year includes the following:
I keep a mask in my purse and car, sanitize my surroundings and hands frequently and test for Covid often (a no brainer and a recommendation by the CDC). I know that not wearing a mask in certain settings is not an option for me if I want to be around loved ones who are immunocompromised while balancing my desire to obtain some type of normalcy for myself.
I am thoughtful about when I go into the office and what time I get on the rode knowing that driving in rush hour traffic raises my anxiety levels. I also DO NOT schedule meetings at a time that requires me to drive during rush hour – something that is in my control.
I make time to relax and unwind weekly. Having a mani/pedi or a massage, taking a walk around my subdivision or just having a meal with one of my besties has done wonders for my mental state.
I try my best to take 10-15 minute breaks away from my computer during each work day. I also make a habit of putting my laptop and work cell into a draw at the end of the day so that I am not tempted to do something that can wait. If I’m honest, I need to be more consistent with this action. When I do it, I feel soooo much better.
I limit the amount of time I watch tv and am careful about what I read when it comes to the news. If it is going to disturb my peace at a time I need to be at my best, I refuse to engage.
I decided to engage in therapy. I realize that managing my parents from afar as well as dealing with other traumatic family events that occurred earlier this year, really took a toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally. I am also on a mission to destigmatize therapy by talking about it more. Many of us grew up thinking therapy was a bad thing, especially those of us in the black community. We are not getting the help we need to cope and it’s not good.
Lastly, I pray especially before I engage in a conversation that I know will be challenging. It helps to calm me and it reminds me that every comment made by someone else does not require an immediate response/reaction. In addition, my silence will oftentime allow the other person to reflect on how they are showing up to the conversation.
Well…you should know where I am going next with this blog...
If you’ve watched my video podcast, Real Conversations with Michelle, you’ve heard me say often that you are no good to anyone else if you are not taking care of yourself. This includes taking care of your mental health. You will not function as your best self personally or professionally if you are mentally unhealthy. Therefore, if you have been struggling, it’s time to show yourself some love. Make yourself a priority and invest in you.
Also know that you are not alone in managing your mental health. According to research conducted by several health organizations, 1 in 5 adults suffer from some type of mental health condition.
Below are links to some sites that others have found useful if you are seeking assistance with managing your mental health. If you think you can benefit from a coach, check out my blog from last month titled “Help! Who do I contact – a coach, mentor or therapist?” I would be happy to schedule a complimentary consultation to determine if we are a good match and if coaching is truly what you need right now.
Be blessed and know that...
Michelle Biggs is the Founder and CEO of My Best Every Day Coaching & Consulting, LLC.
To learn more about Michelle and her company, click the link below.