No…you don’t need to be happy all the time and that’s a ridiculous expectation. Mental health doesn’t mean that everyday is full of sunshine and smiles. What I’ve learned, and what it means to me, is is balance. Mental health gives me the ability to face opportunities and obstacles head on without losing balance and swinging up and down between extreme moods. Now that’s easier said than done, and it takes practice. “Practice” is something different for everyone, but it’s the practice that prepares me for the moment when times get not so easy. So, what do I do to practice? How do I prepare for those uncomfortable moments? I breathe...I acknowledge how I feel physically in each part of my body. Why do I do this? If I sit down, and start thinking about how my foot feels, and then I move up to my ankle, to my calf, my knee, and so forth and so on…then 1) I can acknowledge physically how I feel and if there is anything I can actually do about it and 2) I stop thinking about every other thing in my life that may be making the day or week incredibly frustrating. I’m taking a brief vacation from everything external and taking a survey on how I feel physically from head to toe and paying attention to myself. The point is to stop reliving and listening to the non-stop discussions taking place in your head and replace it with something else. Yes, your toe may not feel anything, and thinking about how it feels may not take a lot of brain power…but that’s exactly the point…slow it down…slow it all down.
When I’m done with this physical review, I tell myself that, “I’m doing a great job”. Doing a great job doing what you may ask? The answer is nothing in particular, I’m just doing a great job at life because life isn’t easy, I don’t expect it to be easy, and no matter what you may think, it’s really not easy for most people in some way or another. I like to take the time to be kind and respectful of myself and let me know, I’m doing a great job. Sometimes I’m not feeling great about myself, and I don’t feel like giving myself a pat on the back or positive feedback, but guess what, I do it anyways. This is all part of reprogramming your mind which is a topic of another article I will post. In short this means empowering your mind and letting go of limiting beliefs. I’m sure you’ve heard this before and say to yourself, can’t do it, I don’t have the time, or you start doing it and then forget about it but that’s a problem because you need to practice. We will leave this for another time. Nonetheless, how does this help me when I get the phone call with bad news, or something terrible happens at work, or a bill shows up that I’m not sure how I will pay? The first thing I do…I stop. I just stop. I breathe. I remember not everything is under my control and in this life I am living right now, I am doing a great job.