It’s important to have the right tools for the job. When a worldwide pandemic turns our jobs, schools, social life and family dynamics upside down, we need the tools to thrive.
In honor of May being Mental Health Month, Mental Health America is offering a #Tools2Thrive toolkit to increase resiliency, improve our mental health in times of uncertainty, and support our friends and family who may be struggling. The Village will be sharing these tools all month long on our social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as on this blog.
While 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness at some point during their life, everyone faces challenges that can affect their mental wellbeing.
“It’s important to recognize your emotions and own your feelings, work to find the positive even when facing adversity or loss, reach out and try to connect with others, remove those people in your life who are bringing you down, and create healthy routines to take care of yourself,” Mental Health America says.
To kick off Mental Health Month, here are 7 ways to own your feelings. According to Mental Health America, taking the time to slow down and identifying what we are experiencing can help us feel better and improve our communication and relationships with others.
- Allow yourself to feel. Sometimes there are societal pressures that encourage people to shut down their emotions, often expressed through statements like, “Big girls don’t cry,” or “Man up.” These outdated ideas are harmful, not helpful. Everyone has emotions – they are part of the human experience – and you have every right to feel them.
- Don’t ignore how you’re feeling. Most of us have heard the term “bottling up your feelings.” When we try to push feelings aside without addressing them, they build strength and make us more likely to “explode” at some point in the future. It may not always be appropriate to process your emotions at the very moment you are feeling them but try to do so as soon as you can.
- Talk it out. Find someone you trust that you can talk to about how you’re feeling. You may find that people are eager to share about similar experiences they’ve had or times that they have felt the way that you are feeling. This can be helpful, but if you’re only interested in having someone listen, it’s OK to tell them that.
- Build your emotional vocabulary. When asked about our feelings, most people will usually use words like bad, sad, mad, good, or fine. But at the root of these are many words that better describe how we feel. Try building your emotional vocabulary by writing down as many “feeling” words as you can think of and think of a time that you felt that way.
- Try journaling. Each night write down at least three feelings you had over the course of the day and what caused them. It doesn’t need to be a “Dear Diary” kind of thing. Just a few sentences or bullet points to help you practice being comfortable with identifying and expressing your emotions.
- Consider the strength of your feelings. By thinking about how intense your emotions are, you may realize that what you thought you were feeling at first could better be described by another word. For instance, sometimes a person might say they are stressed when what they are really experiencing is something less severe like annoyance. Alternatively, anger might really be a stronger, deeper feeling like betrayal.
- See a mental health professional. If you are taking steps to be more in touch with your feelings but are having trouble dealing with them, mental health providers like The Village’s counselors and therapists have been trained to help. Your employer might have The Village Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers a certain number of free counseling sessions. You can request an appointment by filling out this online form.