We all know the term “mental health day”–you know, it’s that day you take either 1) because you really have a lot on your plate, your brain is smoking, and you just need a moment to gather yourself, or 2) “adulting” just isn’t on the menu for today and no good excuse exists. It’s probably a safe bet to say we’ve all experienced both circumstances–and if you claim to have never used reasoning #2, you’re lying and I really don’t appreciate that kind of negativity here. 😉
Today was one of those days for me. But by golly did it sure do me wonders. I deep cleaned, organized, and laundered to my heart’s content. I made myself a yummy dinner and wrapped the evening up with a full-blown facial/waxing/masking sesh while blaring my favorite music unnecessarily loud through the entire house. I’m sure my neighbors loved it.
As I allowed myself quality time with number 1 (that’s me, of course), I wondered why mental health days are so relieving and what other people do for stress relief? Do other people even know what relieves their stress most effectively? I mean, my mom was the first person to introduce me to the concept of a “mental health day” at a very young age. And by a young age, I mean literally imagine elementary school me out here taking a “mental health day”… I’m not sure what could’ve possibly been so stressful in a ten-year-olds life, but apparently, it was a big deal. God bless my mom and how supportive she was of my emotions. Even when I was being absolutely ridiculous and we both knew it, she made me feel like regardless of how illogical, my feelings were always valid. I think that greatly attributed to my sense of self-worth while also fueling my inability to cope. But hey, it is what it is. In all seriousness though, my mom was a firm believer in prioritizing mental health–she wisely understood that your mental state affects every single thing you do, both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes life just starts to get the best of ya darn it and you have to hit the pause button for a second. For me, that pause button usually looks like cleaning and self-care. Basically, if I can get both my house and my body all tidied up, my head is usually in a better space by the end. Something about the systematic process of organizing and deep cleaning brings me such satisfaction and sense of control. And boy oh boy was I was really needing a sense of control and stability.
Let me tell you about yesterday:
I’ve been feeling some seriously negative emotions for a while now and yesterday I spent the entire day engrossed in social media. I physically could not pull myself from the virtual world and it all had to do with my mental state. I wanted so badly to be distracted from my own thoughts that I shoved them to the back of my mind and attempted to distract myself with other people’s lives instead. Yep…we all know how healthy that is! So today, when I woke up, I knew there was no way I could let myself slip into that again today. Instead, I did something that actually made me feel good and would benefit my life rather than leave me in the same place. I kid you not, this house has maybe never been this clean in the three years I’ve lived here. THAT’S how stressed I’ve been. Seriously, I wanted to shake myself from my pitiful mood yesterday SO bad that I hit rock bottom. And by rock bottom, I mean I went to the gym. The GYM! If you know me, you’re like, “Woah, shit was going d o w n“. My hungover self spent a solid 30 minutes teetering between anger sprinting to the sound of Tim McGraw’s “Love Story” album and trying not to pass out. If you’re not familiar with the album, let me tell you that there is nothing angry about it and in fact, it’s quite nice and I’m sure the source of many wedding songs. So, if that’s not the most confusing method of stress relief you’ve ever heard of, please share with me what in the heck you’ve been doing because we should probably be friends and compare notes. I mean seriously, look up “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw and then imagine me in Saturday night’s makeup anger sprinting in the middle of the day on a Planet Fitness treadmill to those lyrics. Someone really should keep a closer eye on me. Anyways, my point is that while I did impress myself with my cardiovascular strength, I did not feel any better.
It’s funny, in a world where we have the more “control” than ever, it’s so darn easy to slip into a state of constant obsession with the world around us and lose sight of what’s going on in our real worlds, minds, and hearts. And while I do not condone taking a month-long hiatus from work and all responsibilities to “get your mind right”, it’s amazing what a single day of mental rest can impact. I’ve learned that sometimes when you feel like things aren’t going the way you want, you really just need to reassess the lens you’re looking through, rather than constantly trying to change the things going on around you. And more often than not, the things going on in our lives, at least in my experience, are out of our control anyway. Having spent the past year in a whirlwind, I’ve begun to master the concept that all we really have power over at the end of the day is ourselves. Our thoughts, actions, and ultimately our happiness is in our own hands, and while the outside world undeniably impacts those things, if we learn to alter the lens we’re viewing life through, we can alter our entire experience.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “uh…groundbreaking *insert eye-rolling emoji*”, because I know we’ve all heard something along those same lines before. What I’m really getting at, is how do we alter that lens? Each person is going to have their very own unique method of achieving that change, and it likely will vary based on the situation. For example, yesterday what I thought I needed was a good sweat sesh, today I turned to my tried and true cleaning method, and other days all I need is a quick 30-minute bubble bath.
Take some time to really assess what “lense” you typically view life through, especially in areas of your life that present stress. Then consider what you can do, even for just a moment, to help clear your mind when you find yourself in those stressful situations/days/phases. It’s an ongoing effort of mine to consciously remind myself that I cannot control the world around me and that regardless of what’s happening, I have the power to maintain my own happiness and mental clarity. The power of your mind is unreal and as fruity as it sounds, if you can master your own thoughts, you can do anything. That mastery is a lifelong journey and hopefully considering your “lense” can be just another valuable tool in your life belt.
Thanks for reading, and really, please listen to the Tim McGraw song and let that imagery play out, it’ll be the best thing you’ve done all week.