A Lesson in Stress and Mental Wellness

After months of mentally training to overcome COVID obstacles, I faced a few new challenges in November. They are fairly common obstacles that many people deal with throughout the course of adulthood, but because of the circumstances of this year, it felt like an entirely different challenge than anything I’d been experiencing. However, those challenges were also very common, real-world experiences, so I started to examine my relationship with stress because of them. Since then, I’ve learned how I handle stress in these situations, and it’s taught me more about myself and how I manage mental wellness.

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What I’m Thankful for This Year

I’ll be honest – these next few months are one of my favorite times of the year. Even though the wintertime can be difficult for many reasons, I separate the holiday season from those negative thoughts that I fight throughout the winter months. To me, the holiday aspect of these next few months is a lot about thankfulness, gratitude and reflection. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share something I am very thankful for this year, which was the opportunity to learn new techniques to manage my mental health struggles. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned!

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A More Difficult Holiday Season Than Usual

It’s no secret that the holiday season is a difficult time for many. Whether it’s that the sun sets earlier, the weather gets colder or you have to deal with family more than the rest of the year, the next few months bring challenges and difficulties that are unique to this time of the year. And this year, those challenges are even more difficult than usual because of COVID-19, meaning that plenty of people won’t be around the people they usually see during the holidays. Since we already know this will be a challenging time, how do we use this to our advantage? It’s time to get intentional!

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Mental Health Self-Assessment Part 2: Techniques and Strategies

After writing the first part of this post earlier this week, I’ve definitely got self-assessments on the brain. Whether it’s as simple as running through the last few days or doing an in-depth audit of yourself, trying to look at your thoughts and actions from a broad scope have helped me understand myself better. When I self-assess, I always learn more about myself than I thought I would. I pick up new knowledge and insight, and it helps me continue on my mental health journey. After writing about assessing our vocabulary, I wanted to spend the second part talking about something of equal importance – assessing the way we approach mental health.

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Mental Health Self-Assessment Part 1: Vocabulary

Words have always been an important way to tackle the topic of mental health, but sometimes it’s difficult to turn the lens directly on us. The words we use to describe our own mental health, our own personality even, are extremely important. They impact how we view ourselves and the world around us, and which impact the choices we make and things that we do. But in order to improve our mental health vocabulary, we must be aware of how what we’re currently doing, which is where the Mental Health Self-Assessment comes in. Welcome to Part One of this post – Vocabulary.

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Changing Vocabulary About My Own Mental Health

“Well, when you put it like that…”

We’ve all had conversations when our opinions are challenged, our perspectives questioned. When we share our thoughts with others, our word choice and phrasing matters – how else can someone understand our point of view? Over the years, I’ve learned that the way I talk about my mental health hasn’t always been perfectly reflective of my attitude. And that phrase – when you put it like that – is one I say often. When I hear my words from someone else’s mouth, I realized how wrong I was, and that’s why I change my mental health vocabulary on a very regular basis.

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The Myth of “Feeling Like Myself”

When I’m going through a difficult time mentally, I deal with many repetitive thoughts. Regardless of what those thoughts are, my main challenge during this time is to disrupt anything repetitive and try to create original, unique thoughts that are different from each other. One of these repetitive thoughts that occurs is that I say that I “don’t feel like myself.” Though I’ve struggled with this in the past, I’m trying to change what that phrase means to be – and how that can improve my mental health.

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I’m Changing Things Up This Week – Here’s Why

*Deep breath*

*One more deep breath*

*A final deep breath to calm the nerves*

Okay. As we continue on with what feels like the longest week ever (a reminder to maintain your mental wellness and self-care this week!), I started thinking about how I could cope with the uncertainty going on right now. Many people have activities they turn to or know exactly what to do when they’re trying to distract themselves or find a way to make the time pass. For some, sticking to a schedule is the best way to deal with uncertainty going on around them. If that works for you, that’s awesome, and I urge you to continue doing what you need to be functioning and effective. But I’d like to encourage you all today to being open to mixing up your schedule every so often – and this week might be the best time to do it.

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Please Take Care of Yourself This Week

Hello, friends. It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? Normally for me, this time of year is when things begin to calm down – my biggest work event of the year has just ended, the days get shorter, and I begin to figure out how to deal with my mental health during those rough winter months. But since 2020 is the year where stressors won’t leave us alone, I’ll be following along with the U.S. elections tonight along with millions of other Americans. Today will be a super stressful night (to say the least), and it is looking to be a super stressful week as well. So I’m here today to make sure that you’ve got a plan in place to try and take care of your mental wellness this week.

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The Challenges of Living With an Invisible Illness

Last week, I participated in an Out of the Darkness event with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (you can read more about how that went in my Tuesday post). As it does every year, this event brings about a mix of feelings ranging from empowered to depressed. It’s a very tricky tightrope to balance, and being one of the participants who have struggled with suicidal thoughts/ideation, I’m used to the feelings it brought up. But this year, I also reflected a lot more than usual on how mental illnesses can be invisible – not only the impact that has on others, but the toll it takes on the people who are dealing with them.

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