While at SHRM VLBM in Maryland in November, one of the speakers Ben Nemtin introduced us to the concept of having a mental health toolkit, and it’s been sitting as a reminder in my phone since. Today, I listened to/watched the Baxter’s Buzz podcast episode featuring Paul LaLonde, which gave me the push I needed to get this put together and published. (: Paul talks about how the written word vs. verbal comes more naturally for him to express his thoughts, and I would agree! He also encouraged listeners to put information and content out in the world for yourself, because you want to and feel good about it. If you enjoy writing about something, then share it! No doubt it will reach someone who will benefit from it as well, but do it because you want to, not for the sole purpose of it being received well by others/external validation.
So, I’m publishing this for me – to get my ideas written down in one place, and to hold myself accountable! If you have a mental health toolkit as well, I’d love to hear what works for you! So what is a mental health toolkit? To me, it’s a list of things I know will help improve my negative mental state/negative thinking patterns when I recognize I have them. I find that when I have no plans (for example I got home from work this evening, and hadn’t planned what I would do with my evening ahead of time), when something in life feels uncertain, and when I feel lonely, is when I find myself slipping into a negative and worrier headspace. I’m going to put this toolkit into action when I recognize I’m feeling off or am doom scrolling on my phone.
- Typically when negative thoughts come into my head, I’m sitting. So first I’m going to look around, put my phone down, and get up on my feet. What can I get up and do? Fold the living room blankets, start the dishwasher, wipe down a counter, make a bed or take a shower are all things that can always be done, and feeling a boost of productivity makes me feel better and grateful for my physical space.
- Write in a guided journal. Personally, free writing stumps me sometimes especially if I’m not feeling well, so I have a few guided journals with prompts that help and make me feel more positive! This one from Case Kenny is a favorite.
- Watch a podcast. For me, when I’m in a funk, I have to watch, not just listen! I really appreciate those who have YouTube links available for their podcasts. Visuals especially help engage and occupy my brain. Learning something and getting my brain thinking about new ideas and concepts excites me.
- Open my Erin Condren planner and write down a win for the day. Even if it was something small like made it through the work day, said hello to someone in the elevator, or enjoyed my cup of coffee. When I read through my wins at the end of the week, it’s fun to appreciate all of the little good moments! That gives my brain a serotonin boost.
- Depending on the day, if I can muster up some energy I’ll respond to 1 email I’ve been putting off, go for a walk with my dog Lucy and music in my ears, or get in the car with Lucy to go get Starbucks. She loves getting a pup cup, and I love seeing her so happy and excited! Always makes me smile.
- Again, depending on the day, I’ll text a friend that I’m thinking of them or ask how their day was. I have to be careful with this, especially if I’m feeling lonely. Connecting with people is something that gives me energy, however if the person doesn’t respond right away, that can affect my loneliness further. (or cause me to continue sitting on my phone waiting for a response)
- Connecting with people, sun, travel and adventure give me energy. So if I can get out in the sun, do a piece of planning for a future trip, or schedule coffee date with a friend, my bucket will fill a little bit!
I’m glad I wrote this down, and have a list of options to chose from the next time I feel like I need help with my mental health. Have a good rest of your week friends, and I’ll see you back here on the blog soon! (: