Hello, friends. As I write this, president-elect Trump is taking his seat as the official leader of our country. While some are celebrating his victory, others are struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
I worry about what will come next. I struggle with anxiety and insomnia. I avoid the news or any conversation surrounding politics, because it makes me feel stressed. My fear is war. Everyone talks a good game, but our generation has no idea what war would look like for us. -Emily
Whether or not you share the same sentiment as Emily, there’s no denying this presidential switch, the political discord among Americans and the fear of violence and terrorism can add to the day-to-day anxieties we already face.
Did you know? Anxiety disorders affect 40 million Americans over the age of 18, and cost the U.S. 42 billion dollars a year.
While you probably agree that managing and minimizing stress is important to good health; demanding schedules, tight budgets and the daily grind can make it difficult to find downtime–especially for women. The mere mention of the word ‘downtime’ may strike a negative chord in some of you.
I hear you! But like so many other women, I too, used to juggle it all. I was working, pursuing, cleaning, and catering to everyone else. I never had enough time for me. Then…I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a brick wall no one wants to hit.
It is with confidence I say continual exposure to stress and anxiety has a profound impact on the body. It can lead to a laundry list of health problems including disease. So while the whole brick wall had to fall down on me, the lesson I learned is that there is more to good health than eating the right foods and/or exercising.
Being in good health includes maintaining a good state of mind. It’s learning to process negative emotions. I believe taking what I term ‘mental health breaks’ throughout the day can contribute to overall good health and maybe even stave off illness. While disease can happen for a variety of reasons, I am of the opinion you can stack the odds in your favor by taking care of the whole body including mind and thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all of the answers. I am, like you, a work in progress. I’m still learning some things as I go. That’s how I came up with the following mental health exercise.
Health challenges and setbacks have, at times, limited my ability to even leave the house. I had to get creative. The following self-care practice is something I designed to be used anytime, anywhere. Try it out. I think after the first couple of times you’ll identify the benefits (and your friends and family might too).
Change the things you can, accept the things you can’t
- Take 5 minute breaks. Keep it short and sweet. This minimizes guilt and makes it easier to create consistency. You may think five minutes isn’t enough, but it’s just enough to make a difference in your personality and attitude. You can always add more time to the clock later, but trust me on this, start out slow.
- Do what makes you feel good. Everyone pushes meditation to quiet the mind. If that’s what works for you then by all means, have at it! But there are no rules to downtime. There is no one size fits all when it comes to stress management. If reading a bible verse calms your brain, then do that. Consider taking a short walk down the street and back. Sit on the porch. Watch something that makes you laugh. Dance. Sing out loud. Read. Close your eyes. This is your five minutes to just breathe and release tension.
- Schedule your timeout. Set a reminder on your phone or write it on a post it note and stick it on the refrigerator. But in the words of Nike, just do it!
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