In my fortieth year I nearly had an emotional breakdown. I learned a lot that year. With good counsel I learned many things that have helped me along the way to keep my sanity.
There is all manner of things that can threaten your sanity. You are wise if you learn to diffuse, step back, disengage. May I share a few tips I use to keep myself in one piece?
1. Knit. Laugh if you want, but I just finished reading a research article that shows handcrafts scientifically reduce stress. When you engage in a handicraft your brain is stimulated in such a way that you have an outpouring of serotonin (everyone’s friend) Get this……it is magnified if your craft is then given to someone you care about. I am serious! When I give you a pair of handknit socks you truly save me from my next nervous breakdown.
2.Get rid of your social media for at least a week. I bet you have no idea how addicted you are to Twitter or Facebook, especially if it’s on your smart phone. I realized that it was totally stressing me out to read people’s posts on any manner of ridiculous drivel that they think is important. We act as if others opinions are lifechanging by lapping up every blurb as if our lives depended on it. , It is so liberating to delete people who are obnoxious. Better yet, it is so freeing to not worry or decipher the motivation or attitude behind what you think people mean. I realized after a few days I did not miss it, nor did I care. In fact, I found that my attitude improved significantly by not mentally responding to every twitter. Sure, I’m back on now, but not on my phone….not ever again. Too addicting and too harmful to my psyche.
3.Turn off the TV. Maybe it’s just me but I have a really bad taste in my mouth for the exploitation of grieving families and the glorification of violence. I have learned that reading an article is much less damaging to me. My OCD mind has much less material when I get my facts in black and white. I mean is it helping me or them so watch mothers sob? Personally I would not want the world examining my every tear if I lost my child. There are some things in this life that deserve our respect and the dignity of privacy.
4.Ask your spouse or child or mom or friend how their day was. When you do, look them in the eye. Better yet get close enough to put your arms around them, to put their face in your hands. Listen. Engage. It is incredibly relaxing to laugh with the one you love while they tell you a story of their day.
5.Write a verse, preferably one that you find in your morning reading on a 3×5 card and put it in your pocket. Take it out throughout the day (Great substitute for social media) and read it. Take each word and roll it around in your mind. Inspect the precepts. Meditate on each word. Say the phrase over and over emphasizing different words each time. There is a reason God says His Words are life. This simple act is life changing. It absorbs into the bones and becomes part of who you are, how you think and begins to govern how you respond.
6.Learn to let go. There are some things you cannot and should not change. The greatest source of stress can be insisting on change when it is not time, past time for it. Sometimes it is better to say, “I will let this go because when I force change, it is interfering with God’s plan.”
7. Do not engage. There are those who want you to do things their way. They want you to perform how they expect and have all manner of guilt producing weapons in their arsenal. Living free means refusing to engage.You have the freedom to simply walk away. It will never be enough if your actions earn their love and respect. Dear friend, this one is the hardest to people pleasers like myself, but God does not intend for us to engage in every conflict. He does not need us to fight His battles. He is perfectly capable of performing miracles without our help. Step back, smile and whisper these words of wisdom….”and you have a blessed day” then turn and walk away.
8. Write it down. Everyday. A few words. How you felt. What made you mad, sad or glad. Writing is salve for the soul. It diffuses troubles and multiplies blessings. It focuses the wandering mind. There is nothing as valuable as a journal. One day when I’m gone, I hope my girls and their girls will read through my journals. That is when they will realize how much I loved them. That is when they will really know me. Those things are only mine for now, but one day their treasure.
9.Give In. You can be right….or you can be happy.
10. Get yourself medicated if necessary. You may not think you need it, but everyone around you will thank you in a month.