Take Care of Your Mind
By Marcos Perales | Big Stick Editor |
I remember talking to my friends in person back in March 2020. “This will blow over soon,” a couple of us said. We thought the coronavirus was just a hiccup or a little complication; it wouldn’t affect our everyday lives. Now here we are trapped in our own worlds and minds still trying to process everything. Little did we know that we were all in this for the long haul.
As time went by in 2020, people were trying to find different ways to pass the time or to simply cope with the situation. The coronavirus numbers have been going up and down, and we have anxiously watched them day to day. To get an idea, the last pandemic in 1918 lasted about two years. We are halfway there if we are going by that timespan, but no one really knows. Our mental health is a crucial part if we wish to healthily go about our days to come.
If you think about it, our mind is essentially what makes up all of us. The mind is responsible for our psyche, our emotions, and our overall well-being. It determines how we feel, think, and act. These are all good things to keep in mind if we are looking to care for our mental health or simply improve it and make it better than it already is.
I myself have been searching for answers to better understand how to deal with the human mind. Not too long ago, I began stressing how it is a whole other world that requires a lot of attention; it requires more than most of us give it. There are some methods that work in calming and/or coping with the times we are living in right now.
More blood flow to your lungs and more oxygen to your heart will bring you into a more calming state. The type of breathing heavily affects your mood. Slowing down your breathing promotes more concentration and more alertness. In some cases, it can be life saving because it can boost your immune system when you are more alert.
Something else that can go along with breathing is meditation. Meditation is meant to relax the mind and become more aware of the thoughts that are lingering. An interesting part to note is, during meditation, there’s less chance for the mind to react right away to the thoughts and feelings that a person has. A popular grounding technique for anxiety is to count down with the senses: for instance: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Being conscious of something so simple can do wonders for calming the mind. The goal of meditation is not to be stoic, it is to clear any fog in your mind and acknowledge what you feel and think, and to be more in control of yourself.
A lot of people find it hard to focus wherever they are, and that’s really understandable. While we are limited, that doesn’t mean that we stop connecting with others. A simple but sometimes terrifying method to cope is to talk to somebody. A friend or someone you can trust works best. Someone who is open to talk to you and willing to listen without judging you is the way to go. There is something about trading words with a human being that is so therapeutic; it is a therapy used by a lot of mental health professionals today. When we are alone with unexpressed feelings and thoughts, I’ve found that the mind loves to amplify whatever it is and loop it so it ends up dominating us. Having a listening ear right there and available can do wonders for a troubled soul, and it will mean the world to the person talking.
We may forget or may overlook it, but nature is also a great outlet for the conflicted. As soon as someone is exposed to nature, there have been studies done saying that nature reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and cortisol which is known as the stress hormone.
While doing this, there is also an increased production of dopamine which is a hormone that contributes to happiness. As a bonus, my own research has shown me that going out in nature with bare feet helps a lot. Our skin pores are pretty big at the bottom of our feet. We as humans share a deep connection with nature, so the ground beneath our feet gives us an energy that can “recharge” us when we are feeling anything negative. Everyone is different, so some may need to stay out longer than others to feel the effects.
Negative visualization is the next technique that I’ve recently found myself, but it requires creativity more or less, and may or may not worsen the situation. Imagine the worst case scenario happens, or the product of your fears or anxieties come true. Anxious people tend to do this anyway because otherwise they wouldn’t feel the way that they do. The trick is to imagine how you would be okay if the worst case scenario did happen. This method forces you to think ahead, and that is when you start discovering things. What is discovered can be comforting, and it will raise confidence in the fact that you can handle it. Eventually, if someone starts thinking this way they can get good at it. We are always told to think positive, but this method is so counterintuitive to that. If we bring ourselves up and set high expectations for everything, anything less than that could result in hurting ourselves. This is not to say to never think positive and expect everything bad is going to happen, it’s more about just being realistic, and realizing that whatever happens may just be okay.
Yes, some of these ways to improve our mental health are not for everyone, hence the different options. This is also certainly not the end of the list of things that someone could do for themselves. I will admit that I have recently started struggling with my mental health, and it’s something I’m still learning how to deal with. Finding more answers is what I plan to do for myself and other people. The human mind is the thing that now fascinates me the most out of everything else in this world, and that’s what drives me. As long as we continue to pay attention to our mental side of our health, we can be successful in triumphing over our obstacles.