This fall both my husband and I are treading new paths with our careers. My change was my decision; his change forced by circumstances. This means life will have a lot of unknowns, and it’s all happening during the first few weeks of the new school year!
I am stressed out beyond belief. I’m not sleeping well, I’m losing my patience at work, and I’m just not the happy-go-lucky person I usually am. And people are noticing. A few co-workers have asked me if everything is okay. And it is okay, but these looming changes are causing me stress.
So how can we keep a healthy mental state when stress threatens to overwhelm us?
Get lots of sleep.
I stand by this as the best way to help your mental state. However, I am struggling to get a good night’s sleep right now. My dreams are confusing mash-ups of my current workplace, my new workplace, and my husband’s workplaces. It’s unsettling, and I have to work harder on getting to bed at an earlier time.
Read my post Get Some Sleep – Tips from a busy working parent for ways to improve your sleep hygiene.
Eat well and drink lots of water.
This is another thing that is falling by the wayside for me right now. I usually drink a ton of water at work, but work is extra busy and I’m struggling to stay hydrated.
Luckily, I am able to pack healthy lunches to eat, and, believe it or not, eating fruits and vegetables makes me happy. I know I’m giving my body the fuel it needs to keep me going, so there’s self motivation there to choose healthy foods during the day.
Feel your emotions.
I am not a talk-about-your-emotions person. At least not in the moment. But I do find that when I share my feelings – in the moment – I feel better. I usually cry my eyes out, but I feel better after.
There are also days when I’m at work, and it’s so busy I just can’t handle the phone ringing one more time, that I go off to the bathroom and have a little cry. No one really notices (because they are also so busy they don’t have time to look around) and I do usually feel better, or at least enough to continue on with my day.
There’s no shame in letting your emotions out. As long as you can manage them (if you’re at work) and come out the other side somewhat relieved, and not more upset.
Talk about it.
This goes with “feel your emotions”. If you are harbouring bad day feelings when you get home, share them. Unload a little on your support network. Call a friend, cry on your spouse’s shoulder, even talk to your kids about it.
It’s important for those close to you to know when you need a little extra love. My kids are great at giving hugs when they know I’ve had a bad day. Sometimes it makes me cry, and sometimes it bouys me up. It really depends on the day!
Get some distance.
Another great tactic is to distance yourself from the stressors in your life. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. (This is where my ‘having a cry in the bathroom’ also fits.)
I use music a lot as an escape. Headphones if I’m around others, singing along at the top of my voice if I’m not. And walking – with music – is my favourite way to reconnect my body and my mind. Sometimes I get lost in the music, and other times it’s a background for my swirling thoughts, but it always helps elevate my mood.
Exercise or find group activities you like and join in.
This is another form of distance. Getting a sweat on is a great way to get outside your head and stop thinking about all the stressors in your life.
I’m not good with team sports, but I do love taking dance classes. You still get a sweat on and I had to learn all the words and positions of dance so it was a mental workout for me (and still is!) Plus it’s a great way to connect with others, if you’re a natural introvert like myself.
Read more about keeping a healthy mental state on the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.
How do you manage to keep a healthy mental state when life starts throwing curveballs? I’d love add some more tactics to my arsenal. Drop your comments below – I’m going to need a little support in the coming weeks!