Losing your equilibrium is bound to happen from time to time. There could be many reasons, which makes finding your footing that much harder. But, having something in your back pocket to help sway you into a more positive direction can make all the difference. Here are five self-care activities that help me feel balanced.
Meditation is like a Swiss Army Knife, versatile and can be adapted for most situations. A guided body scan can interrupt an unwanted feeling like anxiety; a visualization meditation about protecting our spirit can boost energy levels even in the most depleted; just sitting in a room breathing can guide one back to the present. Meditation can also offer benefits to our bodies. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “there’s evidence that it may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people who have had ulcerative colitis.”
My psychiatrist has said that good nutrition and exercise will be the most beneficial for my mental health. It’s been proven that aerobic exercise can help with depression and anxiety. I love a good Zumba class, get the endorphins, catch up with the ladies. But my exercise of choice is yoga. I connect with my breath, move with intention, and stretch, stretch, stretch. Half of exercising is figuring out which one works best for you and makes you feel the best. My sister hates yoga. Her exercise is CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. For my mom, it’s walking. It doesn’t matter how you’re moving, as long as you’re moving.
For me, reading helps me feel balanced because it helps me sleep. I was a TV watcher and phone scroller before bed person. After settling into bed, I would end up tossing and turning for a while before I actually got to sleep. I bet you can guess what the next morning looked like (wake up at 8:45 to log on at 9). The combination of getting to bed 30 minutes earlier than I use to and reading is my secret sauce for getting up rested. Even if you aren’t looking for a sleep remedy, reading has other great benefits. According to Readingpartners.org, “In a study conducted by the University of Sussex, individuals who had read for merely six minutes exhibited slower heart rates, less muscle tension, and reduced stress levels.” You don’t have to pick a book like Dune. A magazine is just fine. My go-to is InStyle!
Therapy can help bring balance, especially when your negative thoughts outweigh your positive. Therapy can also help develop resources to manage your mind successfully. At the beginning of my therapy journey, I struggled to get my bearings, and my sessions were mainly word vomit. I wanted everything out! It was the most freeing thing because then we could then start the real work. Through talk therapy, we looked at my past to discover how it affects my present. I was able to cultivate tools through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) that can re-direct my negative thoughts, and we’re creating a “map” of my mind helping me navigate it like learning what my triggers are and how I may react.
Connecting with a friend
Connecting with a friend could mean a call, going to lunch or a walk. I’ve developed a sense of belonging after making an effort to reach out. When I was first diagnosed (and my mom was basically my only support system), my therapist encouraged me to reach out to friends. I was amazed when I shared my struggles. They either had similar struggles or offered me compassion and the space to be me. It’s been uplifting to also be able to reciprocate that support and kindness. If you’re not ready to confide with friends, then don’t. Just having some time away from your thoughts or issues is a breath of fresh air. If you’re in the process of creating a network of friends, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a great resource. They have Peer Support Groups for individuals dealing with mental illness to talk about their hardships and build a connection. Check out their website here.