Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 10 Things I Have Done for My Wellness

Leaving Bainbridge Island 

I have been looking back often to think about how my husband and I have grown in our own mental health and lifestyle habits.  I look back and realize how far we have come since we got married 6 1/2 years ago or since I first started college 10 1/2 years ago.  Even though I'm not perfect, I look back and see something to be proud of and I hope that you can do so in your own life.

Scott and I both had our share of emotional struggles.  He experienced extreme depression and anxiety which began in college.  I found that I am very anxious when I am away from being social with close family and friends and have also pinpointed other things that cause me to be fearful.  We have both learned about which habits are not healthy or are frustrating to other people in the house.   We have both had to learn about how to handle other people when are frustrated with them, and how to figure out if there is anything we can change about ourselves to improve the situation with these particular people, or if we have no control.   We have had to learn to not take everything personally....sometimes people respond to situations in negative ways because of things going on with them, not necessarily because there's something wrong with me.  Still not perfect but still on the learning path.

I wanted to share resources that have helped us along the way.  If you have any to share please leave your helpful suggestions in the comments.  I love hearing about what works for different types of people.

  • Counseling-  I believe very much in cognitive behavioral counseling.  Counseling is not just for people with extreme mental disorders.  It's a form of maintaining wellness. Practicing the techniques at home are a big part of this to help change any negative habits of thinking. Scott went for 5 years on a regular basis.  He and I also went for a year to marriage counseling and then now we go as needed.  If you do not click well with the first counselor you find try another one.  They are okay with that and know that not everyone meshes with every counselor. 
  • Self help books- My favorites are on the "Emotional Health Resources" tab on the blog.  Let me just say, reading self-help books does not mean you lack faith.  Just as we go to the doctor for medical treatment, we must help our brains for mental issues.  Scott made great strides in his mental state with Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, The Optimistic Child and Brainlock (which is also very good for anyone with OCD). Understanding how behavior works and observing my own in regard to these books has seriously effected my habits. 
  •   This is a support group website. You sign up and can join groups of all types.  I am part of the asthma support group and mother's of toddlers.  Scott joined an anxiety group.  There is almost every medical condition you can think of.  You can discuss and vent with people who have issues similar to you such as these things, write journals which you can have everyone on daily strength see, friends on daily strength see or just you see.  This group can help to lesson any isolation you may feel in your situation.
  • Socializing and Support Groups- I need people.  I get energy from socializing. Having people who can relate and understand can bring a sense of peace and remind us that we are not alone especially if you are new to a place, a new stay at home mom, working from home, dealing with some form of stress, and plenty more.  Hop on Google and see what type of support groups or socializing sites are in your area. You may be surprised.  One popular website is  You can find people with similar interests to hang out with or groups who have similar lifestyles such as a stay at home mom group.  Scott just met a bunch of people who work for the same company when he judged a science fair this past weekend.  I have had to learn to speak up and ask people if they want to have lunch.  It was so hard at first but really, what did I have to lose?  
  • Hobbies-  I love trying out different hobbies but I do  have my favorites.  Joining a choir last year and getting back into soccer has made me feel more normal again.  These are things I did growing up.  It also gives me time to socialize.  It is not only okay but necessary to have a hobby that does not stress you out and stimulates enjoyment.  
  • Exercise-  Yes they all say it, I know.  This is one of the things that keeps Scott's muscles pain and tension under control.   I have felt better emotionally since I have started soccer again and have also started doing weights once a week with the dvd Crunch: Total Resculpt. I will be another witness in saying that those endorphins and other chemicals released during that time have a great effect on mood and there's nothing like the reward of accomplishment in exercise.  Start small and increase little by little.  Set yourself up for success. If you have never gone running, don't start out with 5 miles.  Start with running for 1 minute and walking for 29 or something like that.  Set up a schedule for yourself ahead of time so you can plan it into your routine
  • Eating- Let me just say I have NOT perfected this. Eating habits are just difficult in so many different aspects. What I do know is what foods make me feel so much better.  We have "cheat day" on Saturdays when we allow ourselves to eat all kinds of junkie things.  I feel so much worse at the end of the day than I do the other days of the week.  During the week we have our dessert or "cheat" item after dinner.  Planning out meals for the entire week help to keep us eating healthy so we do not fall into the trap of "I can't find anything to eat in here...I'll just eat _____".  
  • Stretching-  I can definitely tell when it's been more than a week without stretching.  My muscles definitely ache.  I like that 10 minutes in the morning which makes me take time to think before the day starts.  I don't get it in every morning but every other day works well for me.  I feel success from accomplishing something already that day and very refreshed.  
  • Prayer/Meditation/Slowing down the mind-  Find your own form of slowing down the mind. Is it music, quiet, drawing or journaling? I have a prayer table set up with things that bring me peace that I sit at and an area to play my favorite relaxation music with slow to no tempo.  Deep breathing to this music helps me really calm down.  Those deep breaths really get oxygen through the bloodstream and that combined with the natural effect of music in your emotion centers of the brain can bring the calm we need.  My favorite relaxation music is Jim Brickman, Liquid mind and Gregorian Chant.
  • Simplifying-  Learning tips to organization and learning how to decide what to keep make me feel less stressed.  I have had to learn that everything cannot be sentimental otherwise you have a house full of stuff.  It has also been an emotional journey of knowing that our stuff is nice but it does not define who we are.  If I give this thing away, will it take away from me as a person?  If I save this thing because I might use it later, will I end up with more stuff than I can handle.  Can I just buy another one when I need it later? We now take lots of pictures and then give the thing away that we do not need.  Thank you to my friend Becca for teaching me about how organization in your life effects your wellness. There are great tips for storage and organization on the Container store's website.
How do you keep yourself well? Your thoughts are always appreciated. 

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