When was the last time you took your car in for a tune-up? Do you make sure to do it regularly? What if a light comes on your dashboard? You probably take it to a repair shop as soon as possible, knowing that it could be something that affects the performance of the car.
The same can be said about your mental health. Our mental health should be as important as our physical health, and a new year is the perfect time to give your mental health the attention it deserves. From adults to small children, take time out of your day to do a mental health tune-up on yourself and your loved ones. Sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest difference.
Still wondering why we're comparing cars to mental health? We've got you covered.
It’s Time for a Mental Wellness Tune-up!
By Sarah Sweeterman, LCSW and Jennifer Anton, LPC, October 14, 2020
How many of us have seen the low-tire pressure light illuminated on our car dashboard and thought, “I wonder how long I can ignore this warning light?” Sure, we can all operate on a low tire for a while. But doing so over time can damage the frame, which in turn, impacts the entire vehicle.
It’s the same for mental wellness. A properly inflated “wellness tire” is an integral piece of a safe and healthy life. Ignoring the warning light of stress, just like ignoring the low-tire light, could have an impact on our overall wellbeing.
Take the time to do a tune-up!
Our community has been in the throes of a worldwide pandemic for 7 months. We’re exhausted and quite frankly, “over it.” More than ever, it’s important to recognize the warning lights that may be coming up for you, and to give attention and support where you are feeling deflated. Here are some steps you can take:
- Identify areas in which your tire is low.
- Notice your body. Where are you holding tension? Are you feeling tired, or experiencing low energy? Trouble sleeping? How are you nourishing your body?
- Check in with yourself. What do you need to feel safe and supported? What feels heavy on your mind and heart? Are you taking time to tend to your needs?
- Reconnect with your supports to help inflate your tire.
- Schedule a time for consistent check-ins with a buddy, friend or family member.
- Engage in self-care activities that shore up your physical, mental, spiritual or emotional strength. If you are looking for ideas, try some of these.
- Incorporate times in your day that bring you intention, grounding or joy.
- 1 minute: Listen to a baby laugh (at a sneeze no less).
- 2 minutes: Enjoy your favorite drink. Don’t do anything else but pay attention to what it gives you: warmth on your hands, sweetness, tang, quench of thirst. Enjoy it.
- 3 minutes: Try a window-swap.
- 5 minutes: Listen to a quick meditation Body Scan
- Reach out to a mental health provider for additional support as needed. You can find providers on the Jeffco Community Resources page.
As we continue to journey on this unpredictable road, keep in mind that driving with a flat tire can be ineffective, frustrating, and dangerous. Disregarding your warning lights could lead to burnout, exhaustion, anxiety or depression. Take a moment to give yourself the tune-up you need.
Photo by Daniel Morton on Unsplash