It’s the end of the third full week of May is Mental Health Month, an opportunity for us to take a break from our normal routine and pay special attention to how we feel, and to take care of one of our most important assets — our mental and emotional well-being. This week’s blog is about making the opportunity to think about…well…to think about what we think – what messages we feed ourselves and to better identify our emotional state. Then, we get some tips about how to plan ahead for days when we are feeling not-so-strong and not as capable as we typically feel.
As part of their ‘toolkit’ for May is Mental Health Month, Mental Health America has put together some great fact sheets about some of the most commonly talked about mental health issues (we shared them last week) and a wonderful calendar to inspire us to think about mental health and increase our emotional resiliency (see our blog from the first week). Today, we are sharing three, powerful worksheets that focus on our thoughts, feelings and experiences and suggest some practical…even fun exercises that can increase and improve the tools in our self-care toolbox.
The first worksheet is called, WHAT’S UNDERNEATH? It’s an exercise in, “Taking the time to slow down and identify what we are really experiencing,” which will help us, “feel better and can improve our communication and relationships with others.” (MHA, 2016) It’s an exercise that requires practice to truly master, but it’s worth it — we are worth it!
The second exercise is, STOPPING STUPID THOUGHTS. What are ‘Stupid Thoughts’? Here are some examples: “Of course, I messed this up. I always find a way to ruin things.” Or, “She still hasn’t replied to my message; she must be mad at me.” Known as ‘cognitive distortions’, these are, “inaccurate or exaggerated thoughts (that) can damage self-esteem, mood, and relationships with others.” (MHA, 2016) This worksheet offers us an exercise to help identify when the ‘messages to ourselves’ become distorted and to take action that can transform those painful messages into more positive, supportive ones.
Finally, there’s an exercise to help us, THINK AHEAD. The THINK AHEAD worksheet encourages us to pay attention to our state of mind and emotional well-being, alert for early warning signs that our mental health needs attention. The worksheet encourages us to have a plan in place for days or periods in our lives where we need some extra help to arrest symptoms of our mental illness and get back to feeling optimistic, capable and comfortable. That help may come from friends, family, or from rituals and routines that reinforce positive feelings about ourselves or connect us with the resources we need to recover our best mental health.
We hope you find these useful. See you again next week for the final Friday blog during May is Mental Health Month!