How often do you feel emotionally and mentally drained? Like at the end of the day, all you want to do is plunk on the couch and binge Gilmore Girls until you fall asleep?
This is a rising phenomena among Americans and people all over the world. Worse, once we’re caught in this cycle, it can be difficult to get out.
As adults and business owners, Holly and I have learned that mental and emotional wellness are just as important as physical wellness--that the quieting of the mind is an essential part of staying well in a holistic sense.
We’ve also learned that quieting our minds often has to happen in unorthodox places, using unorthodox methods, at unorthodox times. In fact, sometimes staying mentally and emotionally healthy has as much to do with what you don’t do as it does with what you do.
What if you didn’t take the fastest route to work, because a slower route is actually less stressful? What if there was a way you didn’t feel guilty about spending time on social media, because social media could make you more emotionally and mentally healthy?
Today I’m sharing four of my most valued methods of finding mental quiet in the chaos of life. They all require a little reframing of ordinary thinking, but if you give them a try, I think you will find yourself a little calmer overall in maybe just a few days.
Does mental calm sound like something you need? Read on.
Tip #1 - Outsmart your social media.
Unless you’re a business owner, you probably don’t hear too much in your daily life about social media algorithms. But algorithms affect everyone, and in all truth, they may affect traditional social media users more than they affect the business owners paying for advertising.
Algorithms are web programmers’ way of ensuring that when you’re online, you keep seeing things you’re likely to engage with and enjoy. On social platforms, this means anything you watch, “like,” share, and comment on helps to inform everything else you see on that platform going forward.
Why does this matter? Well, if you’re someone who sees a lot of political posts that cause your blood pressure to rise, or someone who looks up after a half-hour on YouTube and you’re not sure where the time went, then it might be time to think about what you click on when you’re on social media.
Before hitting “play,” “like, “comment,” or “share,” ask yourself, “Do I want to see more of this tomorrow?” If for your mental health you need to see more positive posts in your feeds, refrain from commenting on posts that get you fired up—even if it takes all your willpower not to write a heated response. If you want to see more articles, refrain from watching videos. And when you see something you appreciate, don’t just keep scrolling—engage by clicking “like,” “comment,” or “share.”
Tip #2 - Treat yourself before, not after.
Something my business coach likes to say is, “Be, do, have—not do, have, be.”
This is her shorthand way of saying we need to be who we want to be before we worry about doing the tasks we think will lead us the life we want to have.
Most of us fall prey most of the time to the idea that we have to do a bunch of ambiguous “stuff” in our lives before we can have the life we want, at which time we will magically be able to be the best version of ourselves.
I think this theory has merit. If we want spaciousness in our lives, we need to claim it—not assume that the finish line is just around the corner for sorting out all our work, debt, and relationship “stuff.” Believing that spaciousness will appear on its own keeps us on a hamster wheel, far away from having those precious, quiet moments we all crave and, frankly, need.
When life feels chaotic, be the one to give yourself permission to take a break, and go get a cup of coffee (or tea). Be the one to declare, “Sundays are for rest,” and plan a brunch date with your significant other. Don’t feel guilty about creating spaciousness in your life; you need it for your mental health, and no one else will give you permission to claim it if you don’t.
Tip #3 - Rethink your personal style.
Have you heard of decision fatigue? It’s a real thing that can slow down your day before you’ve even eaten a proper breakfast.
Decision fatigue is the scientifically-proven fact that “the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates” (Greg McKeown, Essentialism). One of the major ways decision fatigue attacks women in particular is by demanding that we find something acceptable to wear every morning.
When we look into closets that are filled with clothes that don’t quite fit right anymore, don’t match anything else we own, and aren’t practical for the physical demands of the day, it’s not only a discouraging way to start off our waking hours—it’s also indulging a habit that carves negative trenches into our brains, both depleting our creativity and ensuring that we remain discouraged and exhausted all the time.
Block out an afternoon to clear anything from your closet that doesn’t fit anymore, or that you always put back on the hanger once you’ve tried it on, or that you’re only holding onto because “it was a gift.” Unloading the physical clutter will also also clear up your mental clutter. Then, if you’re in need of a personal-style revamp—one that suits your lifestyle, helps you feel confident all day long, and enables you to pull together outfits in a snap—visit Alexis the Greek for a free hour of style training... with me!
4 - Change your route to work.
Nothing is more taxing on the brain than starting and ending each workday stuck in traffic on an ugly road.
One of the best gifts I gave myself when I was working a retail job was making sure I took “the scenic route” to and from work. I was living in Maine at the time, and there were some country backroads I could take in lieu of the interstate. Although this route added five minutes to my drive, looking at farmhouses, fenceposts overrun with wildflowers, and acres and acres of vegetable fields helped to keep my cortisol levels in check. It certainly was a refreshing alternative to sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Like the first three shifts on this list, changing your route to work is really just a way of engaging with your life. So much of our lives are either lived on autopilot or lived reactively instead of intentionally that between 40% and 80% of our days are lived by default instead of design. When you evaluate which route you take to work instead of defaulting to the “quickest” route, you train yourself to look at all areas of your life with a fresh set of eyes.
Look at a map, and see what different route you could take to work this week.