30 Day Mental Health Challenge
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
30 Day Mental Health Challenge
They say 30 days makes a habit. ;) Well, actually, “they” say a lot of things but I sometimes struggle to do things consistently for even 3 days. Therefore, maintaining certain behaviors for a month seems like a great start. This is what it all comes down to- I believe when you have a healthy mind you have a healthy body. My “To-Do List” is starting to look more like a scroll. It’s overwhelming and, in the end, the anxiety is debilitating. I’m fighting the urge to do nothing because I can’t do everything. This list is a way for me to organize my thoughts so that I have some semblance of ways in which I might “begin.”
1. A wise woman once told me that my eating was a masochistic way to punish myself for the things that I feel guilty about. Once I address what inspires these toxic emotions in me, the binges will lessen or cease. That being said, my grandfather is currently in assisted living. Those of you who have read my previous blogs know that my grandmother is no longer living. I don’t visit him as regularly as I ought to, and this is constantly a source of shame for me. Others say, “Ash, you’re in grad school. You work. How often do you think you are supposed to be there?!” If I had it my way, I would be there every morning to cook him an omlette, pour his coffee, and retrieve the newspaper. Admittedly, he’s only 2 miles away. The thing is- no matter how much time I spend with him, it’s never enough to relieve him of the aching loneliness he feels when left to his thoughts. And there isn’t a day when he isn’t in my own thoughts at least a dozen times. So, I have decided I am going to let him know. I am going to send him a dozen letters in September (in addition to visits).
2. There is one woman I compare myself to on Instagram constantly. The truth is, the man of my dreams has a bit of a history with her. And by that I mean the man of my dreams is my current significant other, they have more than “a bit” of history, and I have no business whatsoever even looking. Lol, I’m nothing if not honest. They don’t talk anymore and he’s never done anything to make me feel insecure about our relationship. So why am I scrolling through her photographs instead of taking my own? I actually had a revelation about this. It was heartbreaking. I have been peering at these pictures trying to figure out what he saw in her so that I can figure out what he sees in ME! Well, that’s done. I’m forcing myself to not look for at least 30 days. My carpal tunnel will quit flaring up (lol) and I can spend some quality time with myself figuring out what I see in me, since it’s evident I can’t quite recall.
3. I will not go more than 3 days without calling my little sister. If I have to start a call log then so be it. She is beginning 6th grade this week, and to be honest I’m mortified. The things she could be exposed to… She’s naïve and vulnerable and needs a good influence. I need to be that influence, since she truly doesn’t have any positive role models. Two phone calls a week doesn’t feel like nearly enough, but it’s a start.
4. I have made two behavioral health appointments with a counselor. I will attend both of them. As an aspiring mental health practitioner myself, it’s time to try therapy. I want to do it for my future clients. I need to do it for myself.
5. Music is one of the only things that can de-escalate me just as effectively as chocolate. Lol. I will (virtually) attend New Music Friday on Spotify every week, and I will walk away from September with at least 30 new songs in my library. When I don’t update my workout playlist, I don’t work out.
6. Speaking of working out… I really don’t. I’m a graduate student with a job, and I have a licensure exam in a year that I’m already freaking out about. That doesn’t mean I need to be sedentary 25/8, either. My goal is to get a minimum of 10,000 steps/day. I have to at least get 70,000 steps/week. That seems more realistic to me. I’ll also have to make sure my Fitbit gets charged regularly.
7. I will go for at LEAST three really long and really satisfying hikes this month. I’m from
Minnesota, and we are about to lose our light and our warmth. I want to get outside while I still can, I’ll regret it if I don’t.
8. I will dedicate at least one day off of work to studying for the licensure exam that I have been freaking out about so much. I will also call my university and inquire about an on-site visit with an advisor to get more guidance and information regarding my upcoming practicum (it’s like fieldwork).
9. When my financial aid comes at the end of the month, I will register for my next out-of-state residency. I will also make hotel reservations in advance and go through my closet to see what I have in terms of business casual clothing that fits.
10. I will call the woman I spoke with a while back and inquire about her impending litter of puppies. I’ve wanted a dog my entire life but have always lived in an apartment. I recently moved into a house and could use a furry anti-depressant who will walk with me. Basically, I’ve been waiting 25 years for this!!!
11. I will get the brakes and roaders in my car replaced before a single snowflake has the chance to hit the ground.
12. I will keep calm and call Maura. She was my grandmother’s best friend and we have lost touch a bit.
13. I will bake something. I don’t know what, but it’ll be really, really, really good and I’ll share it with an unsuspecting person who looks like they could use random baked goods.
14. I will track my food 25 out of 30 days, good or bad. I have a tendency to want to refrain from tracking when I binge because I feel embarrassed and dread the calculation. If I could even just get in the habit of recording my food without judging it I think I’d be in business.
15. I will stop putting the “pro” in procrastinator and meet my deadlines. This will let me avoid unnecessary point deductions. If this means that I go to a coffeehouse so that I’m out of my comfort zone, then so be it.
16. I will read a few chapters of my “For Fun” book. It’s about the effects of yoga on anxiety
17. …and, y’know, since I’ve never actually done yoga I will break in my mat with a few Youtube videos geared towards beginners.
18. I have always wanted to plan a costume for the Renaissance Festival. I think this stems from my obsession with the film Ever After in my adolescence, lol. However, I have been deterred by the cost of co-splays, not giving myself enough time to plan, and my weight. Last year I went as a gypsy and walked around seeing all of the ethereal fairies and belly dancers. Now, I’m not the kind of woman who insecurely criticizes other women. I see and can appreciate beauty wherever I go. Unfortunately, this kindness does not always extend to myself, so I ended up feeling inadequate and this preoccupation ruined what could have been a great experience. Since it’s just a month away, I may have to haphazardly throw something together a bit sooner than I would have liked. However, I don’t want to plan nothing just because I don’t have unlimited resources or a great figure. To the drawing board!
19. I will refrain from making derogatory remarks or “lighthearted-jokes” about my body. This one is hard for me, admittedly. It’s my way of telling people that I know I’m fat so they can’t criticize me first. It may come from working with inmates, as some of them can be quick to comment about your body.
20. If someone offers me a compliment I will simply respond with “thank you.”
21. I will pamper myself more (paint my nails, use my acne cream, etc.). I do some of these things already, but I recently realized I’m less likely to do something nice for myself if it’s time-consuming. For example, I’m more likely to pay for a manicure than to sit down and do them myself. It’s almost as if I don’t see myself as a good investment. I don’t give body maintenance enough of my time. Time to change that.
22. I will not watch more than one episode of Law and Order a day if I still have homework deadlines for the week. (Appropriate Loophole: I can watch more TV if I’m watching it from a machine at the gym.)
23. I will not let garbage accumulate in my car.
24. I will not go to a single drive-thru. I broke my own rule last week with Taco Bell. Afterward, I remembered how gross they make me feel. It’s worse than a hangover!
25. I will make and post a list of alternative self-soothing techniques that I can read prior to eating my feelings.
26. No more pop cheats. I was abstinent for several months, and then I had a Dr. Pepper relapse. Tea, tea, and more tea for me.
27. I will go out on a date NOT wearing black leggings and an oversized cotton t-shirt. My boyfriend never complains about the way I look or makes suggestions regarding my appearance, but I’ve noticed that he always acknowledges extra effort. I’m guilty of the whole I’ve-found-someone-who-loves-m
atpants thing, so it’d be a pleasant surprise.
28. I will take my vitamins every day.
29. I am going to make a health cupboard in my kitchen. I have been meaning to “get around to it,” but it’s time to take initiative. I will post pictures when it is finished!
30. I am going to post follow-up blogs on my progress. At a minimum, they ought to be weekly.