May 11, 2021
I had a Lyft driver recently ask me, “I don’t mean to be intrusive, but at what age did you start feeling jaded with the world?” This being a casual ride home from brunch, I was caught off-guard by the heaviness and suddenness of the question, but it was an unexpected opportunity to check in with myself – do I feel jaded? How do I feel about life right now?
After a few moments of reflection, I was pleased to report that I actually don’t feel jaded at all; that I wake up generally happy and hopeful about life. Not every rideshare driver gets that philosophical, but it was a good reminder of how important it is to check in with my own mental health.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a great time to not only check in on your own mental health but also the mental health of the people who are important to you. When and how this happens can look different for everyone, so here are a few ways to get started.
1. Connect With Loved Ones
Craving interaction is a common human experience, especially when many of us have been distant from our loved ones during the pandemic. Being isolated from friends and family can create feelings of loneliness and depression, and can even lead to physical symptoms.
Creating some space in your day for a phone call can help you stay connected to the most important people in your life. And if talking on the phone isn’t your preference, there are plenty of video, text, and chat apps to choose from. You never know when a “hey, I was just thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing” call or text will turn someone’s day around.
2. Take a Walk in Nature
Taking a break from home or work to reconnect with nature can be a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from the busyness of the mind and your environment, and simply be in the present moment. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin; notice the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, and allow yourself to be with whatever your experience is, just as it is.
Even if you don’t have a picturesque nature trail near your home or office, a walk around town or even just around the block can do wonders for strengthening the mind-body connection and feeling at ease.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Embrace All Emotions
As humans, we tend to enjoy the emotions that feel pleasant – like happiness and excitement – and block the uncomfortable emotions such as anger and sadness. Bringing mindful awareness and curiosity to the full spectrum of our emotional experience, and allowing it to be just as it is, without labeling as “good” or “bad,” can make a big difference in your overall well-being.
Just like with any practice, learning how to embrace all of your emotions can take time. Participating in the eMCC Challenge or any live or on-demand programs including The Value of Emotions can help you build the skills you need to mindfully manage whatever you’re feeling on a daily basis.
4. Practicing Gratitude
Life is really hard some days, and it can be easy to forget about all the things and people that you’re grateful for. Making a daily gratitude list is a way to remind yourself of all that there is to be thankful for, no matter what the day or week brings.
Learn more about the importance of gratitude with these on-demand programs on eM Life:
You know that wonderful feeling after you’ve just experienced a hearty belly laugh? Laughter not only feels good physically, it’s also important for mental wellness. The high stress of work and home responsibilities can make it tough to notice the joy and humor in your life, but connecting to humor can help you meet challenges with more resilience.
Whether you choose one of these tips, all of them, or honor Mental Health Awareness Month in your own way, spending a little time checking in with yourself and others can make a big difference in your happiness and well-being.
Written by Becky Greiner