Mental Health Awareness
Today is the final day in May, and with that, the final day of Mental Health Awareness Month. Whenever the topic of health comes up, a focus tends to directly shift to physical health, and the wellbeing that is attached to your body: exercise, diet, sleep, stretching, etc. Although the focus of physical health is so easily identifiable, more often than not, mental health inversely falls by the wayside. Mental health impacts your ability to ensure other areas of your life are healthily balanced. This needs to be made more of a priority in everyone’s life!
Up until about two years ago, I cannot say that my mental health was something that I gave much attention to. It’s one of those things that until it is pointed out to you that something is missing, you never would have realized something actually needed to change. My prayer is that maybe this post can be a lightbulb for someone reading.
Meditation & Mindfulness
I will be the first to admit that the initial idea of meditation and mindfulness can be intimidating. The classic image of a guru sitting peacefully, eyes closed, deep in thought and breathing, seems like a far reality from the crazy job, screaming child, uncooked dinner, and growing to-do list that otherwise exist at the moment. I know what you’re thinking, “I would love to, but I just don’t have the time.” My response to this is, “It’s something you have to make time for”. Personal health is an investment in yourself, you get out what you put in, but I guarantee you that as you go through life, you will never regret that which you did invest. And I promise, it is truly not as hard as it may seem.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness has allowed me to be present and intentional with my life. I can better separate myself from my feelings which allows me to stay present and focused throughout the day. Whenever I am faced with anxiety or fear, this typically shows up as physical pain in my body, and it makes it hard to stay focused with my work. By taking time to pause throughout the day, and allow my mind time to rest and reflect, I ultimately become more productive, have fewer head and body aches, and can process and pivot much more smoothly.
So where do you even start, you might ask? Well I am no expert, but since making meditation and mindfulness priorities in my life, I have come to see the value that this intentionality grants to not only my health, but every other area of my life as well. Because mental health has started to gain an increased awareness in recent years, more and more resources are being produced. There are apps and online videos, and even schools are focusing more on teaching students how to be mindful.
When I first started looking into meditation, I used YouTube. There are lots of content resources for guided meditations online, and I wanted to be sure I found value in it. Immediately I could see the benefit, so I decided to invest further by purchasing the Calm app. Game changer.
Calm for the Win
Before I dive into why this resource has been so incredibly helpful to me, I want to note that this is in no way sponsored by Calm. I have happened to be impressed by their product, and am simply sharing how it has helped my mental health journey–if however, Calm comes across this, I am more than willing to be a brand advocate, because let me tell you, I am IMPRESSED!
I am intentional to meditate twice a day, morning (before I do anything work-related) and night (before I go to sleep). I typically try to do this before my daughter wakes up, but even if she beats me to the sunrise, I will get her going with something and then I take a few minutes to meditate before I start my work day.
Daily Calm is a feature of the app that is new every day, and is customized specifically for you. You open the app and it is right there waiting for you. It guides your meditation process and helps get you in a right state of mind through natural sounds, guided thought processes, and well, just being calm.
The Hours In-Between:
Calm has different mindfulness strategic resources it offers that I have come to value so much on a daily basis, especially since the majority of my work involves pivoting in some fashion. I might be working on a project for one client, and then immediately have to take a call from another, while realizing there is a fire in my inbox that needs to be put out–mind you everything needs to continue being produced at a high level. It is times like this where having a composed mental framework is critical, and preparing your mind in a way to meet these challenges in the best way possible is so important. The variety of short guided practices (some as short as 2 minutes) give me a chance to quickly refocus and recenter.
Calm has a Sleep Meditations feature that I use every night before bed. Even if I am tired I still make myself do it, because remember, you have to make time. When I start the meditation, my brain is typically still running a hundred miles an hour from everything I’ve done that day, along with what is coming up, but as I go through the meditation, my mind begins to clear and slowly starts to rest as I fall asleep. LIFE HACK: something that I do at night when I can’t stop thinking about everything that still needs to get done, I’ll write it all out in an email, and then send those thoughts to myself. It’ll be there in the morning when I’m energized and ready to go. Another super awesome aspect of Calm are the Sleep Stories it offers. These are basically bedtime stories read by narrators such as Mathew McConaughey (who can resist that man’s voice!?). Both are great options as you slow down for the day.
How Meditation has Helped My Business
These days my brand strategy and client work is so high level that I need to have a clear mind to focus. It’s not that meditation erases these feelings, or that they magically go away after a quick pause, but I am able to slow them down and move forward in a more productive way. Through meditation, I’ve been able to get better at slowing my reactions down by observing them and processing them as the intensity passes. I am not ignoring my feelings, but rather, I acknowledge them, address them, and then decide how to handle them, while staying in the right frame of mind. I still face off and bad moments throughout my day, but those moments don’t ruin my day. It used to be that anxiety would show up, and before I knew it that day was done for, and depending on the severity, possibly the next one too. Now I can handle it in that moment, let it be, and then move on.
For me, consistency is the only way that I can find success in building new habits.Being consistent in my meditation practice has been crucial in seeing results across my daily routines. Calm has been the convenient factor to allow me to maintain consistently, and I can honestly say it is one of the best monthly investments I make in my mental health. Are there any other Calm lovers out there?! Let me know your tips to effective meditation and mindfulness. I want to encourage everyone to make mental health a priority for all twelve months of the year.
“Everytime we ponder a thought, act on an impulse, or dwell on a desire, we are setting in motion a cause that will have a future effect. Mindfulness enables us to choose wisely.” – Tamara Levitt, Author and Mindfulness Instructor