A few months ago I came across a fabulous 21-day mental wellness challenge post on Pinterest and as usual, I forwarded it around for others to have a look. Most agreed that it was a superb challenge to undertake, but none of us got started on it. So four days ago, when I found myself burdened by high-intensity emotions, tightly-crammed to-do-lists, and mommy-guilt of not doing enough, I decided to take a step back and embark on my mental wellness journey. The list looks pretty simple. It says I have to detox, then refuel and finally recenter. But is it really that simple?
My to-do for today is to call someone I love. Basically, reconnect. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. I’ve nearly forgotten what it is to call and have a one-on-one conversation for no reason at all. With all the messaging apps available, I barely pick up the phone to talk anymore. I’m guilty of using emojis in the most heart-heavy conversations, too. It’s much easier to stick in a sad smiley than to type in a few lines offering support. Some days, I even find myself doing the LOL thing in my head when I’m having a laugh during an actual conversation. I have to literally stop myself from bringing that insane acronym to my lips. While I can’t go back in time, I’m certain I don’t want to continue like this. My 21-day mental wellness program got me thinking. What can I do on an on-going basis to maintain my mental well-being, and this is what I came up with.
· · Embark on a social media detox once every fortnight (for starters). This includes staying away from all that instant messaging, too. I’m going to schedule a day to let my fingers punch in the numbers and make a phone call – it’s time to TOL (talk out loud) instead of LOL.· I have a pile of letters and cards from friends and family, right from my school days. I recently sent my friends photos of these letters as reminders of the good old art of writing. They were amazed that I still have them considering I’m a great de-clutterer. I guess some things are worth holding on to. They serve as reminders of our old selves and lives. I’m going to surprise a few friends with handwritten letters or cards every now and then. May be letter writing will become fashionable again.
· Photos. Oh, how I love abusing my phone camera. I have so many pics on my phone, and I don’t save any online. I use a hard drive as backup. But I’m returning to the old-school photo albums. Flipping through albums used to be one of my favourite activities as a kid and now it’s something I enjoy doing with Lil Z. I love the curious look on her face when she can’t find herself in old photos. I’m going to soon explore photobooks (Back Porch Memories) as a gifting option, too. I know I’d like one.
· I started a gratitude journal two years ago and while I’ve tried to be regular with making entries, some days I am pressed for time. I love flipping through the pages and randomly stopping at a particular day’s entry. I can honestly say it is a beautiful recap of the years gone by. Something as simple as being invited to a birthday party when we first moved to Bangkok has made its way into my journal. While it may seem silly today, our early days in Bangkok were tough. Making new friends and building new relationships were not easy. I feel blessed to know how far I’ve come. I’m going to keep at this.
· Dance like no one is looking is something I’m going to take very seriously. Lil Z and I have been going crazy on the Chicken Song and Timberlake’s Sunshine in my Pocket. Dancing definitely peps me up. My daughter makes me feel like I’m MJ’s sister by copying all my moves. You bet I’ve got some good ones! I’m going to enjoy this feeling until she finally watches his videos.
So this is my simple plan to maintain my mental balance. Find time for myself and find time to mingle with others, too. Be present in the moment and be grateful for the past, too.
Over the years I’ve written quite a few articles on gratitude and being present, and I can honestly say that I’ve tried my very best to do just that. I have some more walking to do along that path, but I’m getting there. It’s part of my mental well-being agenda. I’m no mental health expert, and this post is in no way an advisory one. It’s just a tiny effort to spread the word that mental wellness is as important as physical wellness. And if during this time you find that you need to seek professional help, there’s no shame in doing so.