.As a first blog post I wanted to write about something very near and dear to me. Wellness that focuses on mental health plays a huge role in my day to day life. As defined by the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
In order for all of us to be our best possible selves, we have to make sure that we are in touch with our brains. We have to make sure that we are acknowledging what we are feeling and then responding accordingly. When I was younger there was a quote on the fridge that said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. In order for us to act in a way that is going to best suit ourselves, we have to be able to process what is happening. We need to make sure that we are making the most out of that 90%.
Believe or not, a big part of this understanding and reacting is taking a break from all of the things in life that you are responding to. Deciding to take a break is a response in itself, so I want to lay out 5 easy and free action items that you can do. These items will allow for you to decompress and unwind enough to give yourself the mental space you need to see the world with as clear of a lens as possible.
find a porch, a ledge, a chair, a yard…
1. watch + listen to your neighborhood. There is a lot going on outside of your busy schedule and sometimes seeing people do their own things allows for me to be happy for others, which in turn helps me decompress. Another huge aspect of this is hearing birds, watching the squirrels, and seeing spiders build their webs. I can experience all of this from 1 spot, as long as I keep my eyes and ears open. I encourage you to try this without any sort of distraction like your phone or music. However, if at first just sitting there observing is boring and you don’t feel the relaxing aspect then start with music. But, see if you can eventually just sit and be one with yourself and your surroundings without technology.
I personally enjoy taking deep breaths of the outside air so much more than the air from inside of my apartment. Opening windows feels good but it is not the same as physically being outside. Even if you only try this for five minutes, if you leave your phone inside and create that physical distance, I truly think that you will find a bit of relief.
go for an adventure
2. Catch a sunset. There are a lot of things in this world that humble me and one of them is watching the sunset. The town that I currently am in is really big on gathering at the waterfront to see the sunset. Even if everyone is there by themselves or with a singular friend, I find it super interesting that we are all there for a similar reason. Something about this shared experience with others makes me feel even more whole and even more thankful to be alive.
Personally, I am a sucker for the sky after the sun has set. There are just so many more colors in the clouds. But for your adventure, try catching a sunset before it sets and then stick around for about 30 minutes after and watch the sky completely transform. It truly is something beautiful. If you are a painter, this could be used as some inspiration 😉 Featured below is a picture I took last week. The sky was truly amazing. A few days later I also caught a double rainbow.
explore new routes
3. Take a walk around the neighborhood. For similar reasons stated in #1, it’s important to get outside and see all of the things around you. Giving yourself a 10 to 20 minute break will allow you to be more focused when you return to work. It will also allow you to be less irritated/annoyed with the work you have to still do. I have tried limiting myself when I go to switch tasks between different items on my computer. If my computer is open, I’m going to do way more than the work that I anticipated on doing. I literally get glued to my screen. Even though I am being productive, I’m not doing myself any favors in terms of acknowledging my emotions about the situation.
Getting outside and seeing other things happen in your community should give you a nice buffer of time to think. It will give you the space you need to simply exist, peacefully. Doing this also helps break up your day, which I have found to be super helpful in making my days feel more full.
download a mindfulness app (or find a YouTube video)
4. Meditate. I’m sure that you have been told to meditate before multiple* times. But I’m including this in this list because again, the focus here is on the mental aspect of your life. Being able to just sit still and intentionally listen to your thoughts will allow for you to recognize things that maybe you didn’t realize bothered you. Sometimes people think that meditating means sitting still and not thinking about anything at all. That’s not quite what meditation is.
Meditation is being able to sit with your thoughts and then let them go. When I first started meditating a metaphor that was given to me was that thoughts are like clouds. We see them and we can recognize that they are there. All we have to do when we are meditating is just let them pass. We acknowledge the thoughts and then we let them go. These thoughts do not define us. We can use them to let us think. But we do not have to be upset with ourselves when we are trying to meditate and we have a headspace full of thoughts.
Of course we are actively thinking! We are human! There’s almost always something on our minds. The purpose is not to ignore it, but rather shine some light on it so that we can all figure out what we really need and want. Then we can create a plan to figure out how to move forward with this new knowledge. Boho Beautiful offers very nice, free meditations that you might find to work for you.
check in with your creative side
5. Grab some old paint from that dusty shelf and go make a personal little masterpiece. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It just is a way for you to take your emotions and use them in some creative form of expression. I personally love looking on Pinterest for painting ideas, so I did that for you all here. Some of these ideas are pretty intense but you can make your own spinoff on anything that inspires you. This also could be a nice little exercise because you very possibly could be using paint that you used as a child. Or this might remind you of some thing that you did as a child, which can be nostalgic.
a personal example
One of my favorite painting episodes from when I was younger was that spinning paint. The paper you were painting on spun in a circle super fast and then you dripped paint onto it. It had this really cool splatter effect. Eventually the paint all spiraled to the outside of the page. I did this with my sisters years ago, but I found the paintings hung them up in my dorm room to remind me of them.
There are many other things that we can do to enlighten ourselves for free but I just wanted to name a few to get the ball rolling. With the stressors of daily life, it is important to take time for yourself. Sometimes people say that it is important to take a step back. I don’t think they mean physically retracting your steps but rather excluding yourself from something so that you can have a little reset before you get back in it. Hopefully some of these ideas can allow for you to do that. Remember–life is 10% what happens to you, 90% how you react to it.
If you try these ideas out and they work for you, please comment about it! Or you can let me know through an email or the contact form. If you have any other thoughts or ideas that you want me to dive into I would love to hear about them 🙂
Care to connect? I’d love that 🙂
LinkedIn: Brooke Bednarke