Since the past few weeks of my life had been a lot to deal with mentally, I’ve had to get in touch with my mental health strategies a little more than usual. A large part of this process is what I call “getting back to center,” which is a common term people use to remain calm, stay balanced and relieve stress or anxiety. Also know as grounding yourself or staying present, what it means to get back to center is different for people depending on their personality or specific mental health situation. For me, it is less about being present, and more about making sure I am somewhere near my level of calm. Let me explain.
One way I like to think of my mental health is as a scale that always needs to be at zero. If it’s at zero, I am balanced and I am able to be a more productive version of myself. If I dip into the positive or negative numbers on the scale, it’s because my anxiety or depression are hard at work. High numbers mean that I’m getting excited, nervous or stressed to the point that my anxiety might get me too excited. Low numbers mean that I feel tired, numb or catatonic because of dealing with depression or severe anxiety. And my daily life is a fight to stay as close to that zero as possible.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with this mindset or approach, and off the top of my head I can think of a handful of names to describe this approach that are almost identical to what I do. That’s why I want to focus more on the end-goal rather than its definition. To me, getting back to center means working hard to reach a point where I feel like myself – or as close to feeling like myself as I can. It’s using a variety of techniques and approaches because I don’t want to put pressure on one ‘thing’ to work every time. It means reaching a point where I am being myself, all the while knowing that the feeling will ebb and flow throughout the day.
A big part of this mindset is understanding that this work to stay balanced is constant. The idea that a person can reach a point where they are centered and balanced sounds wonderful, but that is not the reality for me and many others. Some days we can wake up and not want to get out of bed or participate in the world. Other days, anxiety can whip someone up into trying to take on a million things at once. In addition, there are many other mental health conditions that impact our mood and behavior, and knowing those resulting behaviors can be critical in working to stay balanced and/or centered.
At it’s core, getting back to center is a constant battle to feeling as much like ourselves as we can. As long as we can do that in a healthy way, or a way that doesn’t hurt our wellness, there is no shame in trying many things until we find what works. Even though I’ve found a few techniques, I know I still have room to grow, and that’s part of the motivation I have every day to get back to center as much as I possibly can.
Later this week, I’ll share a few techniques about how I stay balanced and work to get back to center, and I’d love to include other people’s techniques if you have them! Comment below with some of the ways you stay grounded, balanced or how you get back to zero.