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Is it just me, or are the days getting shorter?
I know, I know.
There are still 24 hours in a day, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
Life comes at you fast, and sometimes all we can do is react.
Is this reality, or is this how we perceive it from time to time?
Time is limited. It’s valuable. It’s the most important asset we have.
So what should you do to better your mental health when you just don’t have any time?
You might want to consider a three-part approach.
All three parts contain good mental health tips for when you're short on time.
Mind Mental Health Tips
The first part of this approach is about your mind.
You can’t do anything if you’re not connected to your mind, which produces the daily thoughts and focus that make up your awareness.
And the easiest way I’ve found to access the mind is to SLOW down. This means sitting down and taking a moment for yourselves. Now, if you’re thinking that I’m about to get into some meditation woo-woo talk now, you’re right. But you’re also wrong.
The key part of slowing down is connecting with your breath. Yes, this is what happens with meditation, but it’s also what happens when humans need to connect with themselves and modulate their experience. Stopping to take a deep breath helps you do that.
This is what I want you to do when you’re calm and ready.
Take a deep breath and ask: “How am I feeling right now?” Now, don’t do that quickly and then run away to your next activity. Actually discern how you’re feeling. You matter, and you deserve to know how you’re feeling every single day.
Stopping to take a deep breath so that you can ask a question breaks you out of your normal routine. It connects you with your mind.
Which leads us to…
Body Mental Health Tips
The second part of this approach is about your body. Being connected to your mind is one thing, but it’s another thing entirely to have a mind-body connection. Integrating the two is how you move gracefully through your day.
You’ve connected with your mind. Now what? The next step is connecting your mind with your body, and it’s easier than it sounds. Because once you’re calm and you’ve checked in with yourself, it’s natural to transition to how you’re feeling in your body.
If you’re like me, you may have forgotten that you had a body.
In my case, I lived in my head for most of my youth, and I never considered to ask how my frantic thinking was affecting my body.
Not until I started going to therapy and reading books about mental health did I consider this now-obvious issue. I’m ashamed to say this, but when I first came across the question, “Where in your body do you carry your stress?” I didn’t know! Can you believe that? I live in a body, but I wasn’t sure what happened to it when I was stressed.
Now I know that I carry my stress in my neck and upper back. If those places start to hurt, I know it’s time to slow down and reassess.
Where do you carry your stress? In the same places? In your head? In your lower back? There’s no wrong answer.
There’s only the great benefit that comes from learning about how your body is feeling. This produces evidence you can use to make better decisions and improve your life.
Which requires doing this…
Soul Mental Health Tips
Uh oh. I just said the “S” word. Soul is not something that everyone likes to talk about in public spaces, but hang with me for a second. This can mean a lot of different things to different people.
Here’s what I mean, and why I think it’s important enough to round out our three-part framework with this word.
If I got into a full-on discussion about what the soul might be, we could be here all day. No one has time for that!
But let’s try to break it down. The soul, to me, represents something bigger, something outside of myself. It fuels the connection I have with others on a deep level.
When I talk about soul, I talk about meaning. And when I talk about meaning, I talk about searching for purpose in life.
You can be a fully integrated mind-body person, and do just fine, but if you never stop to consider why you’re here and what you’re doing, I think you’re missing out on something.
Spiritual depression is real. It has been studied by real scientists. What it is exactly is hard to say, but it stems from lack of meaning.
First, connect with your mind. Then, connect with your body. Finally, connect with your soul, whatever that means to you.
Finding your soul is all about finding your peace. Go wherever you need to go to do that. For some people, it’s nature. For others, it’s a place of worship. Contemplate how fortunate you are to be here at all. The odds are infinitesimally small that any of us are in this world. The fact that I can communicate with you in this way is even smaller. My mind is being boggled, so it’s time to move on.
Reach for something greater. You may just find it adds colors to your canvas.
This three-part system isn’t foolproof.
But it’s a systematic way to think about your mental health.
It’s helped me in a big way. I hope it can do the same for you.