I’d like to talk a little about mental health- or rather, my mental health.
I’ve been struggling a bit lately, trying to avoid becoming engulfed by an overwhelming sense of sadness.
I try to avoid sinking into the sadness that feels like a dense black cloud is penetrating my soul. I have realized that for me, it’s like middah ra’ah – a bad trait – that drains all my energy and motivation to be productive and keep moving forward.
I do not equate this type of sadness to depression. I simply feel overwhelmed and sorrowful about the difficult things I have no control over, such as the increasing turmoil in my country, the direction the world is taking, or the complicated health struggles of people I love.
It’s a lot of things to cope with at once. But I’m doing my best. And some days, or even hours, are better than others.
When I find myself struggling to avoid slipping into a sinkhole, I try to stop the downward spiral by consciously recognizing my predicament and doing things to help me shift my mindset.
I’d like to share some of these tools with you, and I hope that if you are experiencing difficulties or challenges, you will find them helpful.
Perhaps the most powerful thing I do to improve my mindset is to stop focusing on my thoughts and, instead, concentrate on doing something good for someone else. When I focus on the needs of others, my negative thoughts tend to become less dominant, and feelings of strength and optimism gradually replace them.
Here are some other things I find helpful:
- Recognizing and acknowledging my feelings and thoughts. This helps me to slow my thinking and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.
- Organizing my challenges into two categories: the ones I can do something about and the ones I have no control over. For the problems I can solve, I plan a course of action. For the ones I can’t, I simply acknowledge they exist and leave them aside.
- Being patient with myself and allowing my thoughts and feelings to flow through my mind and gradually move along. I also try not to take myself so seriously.
- Reminding myself that things pass, much like black clouds moving by as a storm clears.
- Writing. It helps me organize my emotions and clarify my thoughts.
- Moving forward- finding things to busy myself, doing good deeds, and creating. If I stop and let the sadness overtake me, my creativity and motivation become stifled. Sometimes, it takes a while to convince myself to get in gear, but I know it is essential to move forward to grow and progress.
- Spending quality time with family and close friends. Sharing a hug with someone I love always makes challenges more manageable.
- Taking my dog for a walk in the park and sitting with her on a bench under the trees. Fresh air and nature are always healing. And dogs are the most wonderful, non-judgmental, and loving creatures. We have a lot to learn from them.
- Being grateful. Every night, before I fall asleep, I quietly state what I am thankful for. This helps me to focus on the good things in life and to recharge my batteries. I have found that even if the day has been challenging, there is always something to be grateful for. And as dark as things may sometimes seem, when we look up into the night sky, the light of the stars shines down upon us, reminding us of the infinite wisdom of The Creator of our universe- and that a little light can cast away a tremendous amount of darkness.