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keeping mentally healthy?

what do you all do to keep on an even keel? I'm interested in anything you have to say, all experiences. How do you pick yourself up?

Thu. Oct 4, 2:04pm

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I HAVE to exercise to stay sane!! At the very least 3 times per week. Usually it's 5-6. When I don't I am very moody and easily irritated. I also have to eat regularly. When I get hungry the same thing happens, moody and irritable!

Thursday, October 04, 2007, 3:15 PM

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I am a very, very driven person. As such I tend to be attracted to high-pressure jobs, am quite demanding of myself, and work hard to acheive above and beyond anyone else's expectations. So my stress levels tend to be a bit on the high side and I am often consumed with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. Plus I have an overdevloped sense of responsibility.

At any rate once I got out of college (where I drove myself mercilessly to acheive the best grades, the best internships, etc) and got into my new high pressure job, it became apparent that I really needed to chill out. My body was stressing (began to manifest physical sensations due to stress), my work wasn't as good as it could be because I could accept nothing less than the best solution, my mind was constantly wound up and my relationships were suffering because I wasn't available or engaged.

However meeting and beating challenges invigorates me and I love that my job has great impact and that I have to perform to very axacting standards - I just don't want to lose my whole life to it and that's very easy for me to do. So I began incorporating the following steps and I have definitely reclaimed some mental balance and rediscovered a pleasure in my life and my work that has been missing for quite some time.

1. Go out. Get with your friends, family, SO and get the heck out. Nuture your relationships. This is one of the most important things for me. Getting together with the girls is better than therapy. A group of us often host dinners or brunches for each other (we're all informal, so no pressure to have a spotless house or some such nonsense) and we have a once-a-month soup night where one of us makes a pot of soup and everyone shows up with sandwhich fixin's or something.

2. Make a concious effort to NOT b*tch about work, friends, life, etc - keep all conversation positive (ok from time-to-time you gotta vent, but be aware). Talk about life's downsides as if they were new opportunities for personal growth and pretty soon that's what they will be. This really improves your mental outlook.

3. Eat right and exercise. This will put your mind at ease and help your body truly relax. Plus to me there's something meditative about chopping veggies or working in the garden or walking. Breathe the air, listen to music that lifts your up, etc... When your food is clean, your mind feels clean - feed yourself junk and you will be uptight and unhappy.

4. Meditate. I don't mean sit there cross-legged chanting 'Om' (unless that helps then go for it) - I mean lie down, shut your eyes and conciously clear your mind. Feel your awareness in your toes, your legs, your back, arms and shoulders. See if you can make those muscles tighten and relax. Take a moment to truly listen to your body.

5. Pamper. Get a massage, pedicure, take an afternoon to read a trashy magazine, etc. The point is - it's ok to reward yourself and do something that purely for pleasure. I often get $200 monetary rewards at work for a job well done. I NEVER use this money for bills or anything else - these get spent purely on massages :-)

6. Don't procrastinate. Get your stuff done and you will feel sooo much better. Have an overwhelming amount of stuff to do? Break it up into little things and set aside some time each day to cross off as many little tasks as possible and then stop when the time it up. The feeling of accomplishment is nice and your mind is no longer shouldering the burden of a perpetual 'to-do' list. When you don't procrastinate, you know you will get things done and so your mind can let go of all those pesky little things hanging over it.

7. Solve problems, don't internalize them. It's rarely as much about 'you' as you'd like to think. Identify the issue and work out steps that will make things move forward.

8. (Related to #7) Don't point fingers, wallow in rightous indignation or otherwise engage in exercises that are in the end - fruitless. Will any of this behavior result in anything good getting done? Almost never although I will grant you, there are time when this is valid - however that's not nearly as often as people indulge in it. What does make you feel better is moving on and getting past the moment. Keep your eye on the (pressumable positive) outcome - all those activies are generally about wallowing in the past.

9. Cut out the crap. Identify things in your life that are not contributing to your happiness, well-being, success, etc and remove them. Stuff that is a drain on you and your resources is something you need to get rid of. I have cut out TV, one-sided friendships, social obligations that I was only doing out of guilt, and hired a landscaping service to mow the lawn (cause as much as I love gardening I hate mowing). it was a relief to let some of that go and now I have the time and energy for things I truly cherish. Honestly, doing this is a gift to yourself - how precious is your time that you allow it to be sucked away by things that make you feel bad?

Above all - you only get one life to live. Is feeling bad,/guilty/stressed-out going to help you live it better? I keep going back to this thought when I find myself too tempted to take things personally, work too much, get upset about things, etc. Those things are like emotional junk food - ok once in awhile but damaging in large quantities.

That's all what works for me, but we do all have our way and what works for one may not work for others. Best wishes to you finding your balance!

Thursday, October 04, 2007, 4:54 PM

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wow! great advice! I'm going to print this out and keep it near my desk!!

Friday, October 05, 2007, 11:51 AM

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getting mentally healthy

big thing for me is toxins in vs toxins out. When I am exercising, getting sleep etc I feel great. When I am not, I'm nuts and I act nuts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 10:05 AM

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