Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Now, don’t get too scared by my blog post title. I’m not going to go too deep; rather, I’m going to share some things that have greatly improved my mental health over the last few months. And, don’t think I have this “mental health” thing down. I most certainly do not. I don’t always do the things that I know would make me mentally healthy.
-I have limited my news intake. Now, I’m not saying that I bury my head in the sand. I read the news rather than watch it or talk to my husband for updates. He takes in so much news and I have told him that I think it is deeply affecting him. Yes, it’s good to be aware, but you also need to protect yourself and know yourself and what you are sensitive about. Tom seems like a stoic person on the outside, but he is sensitive on the inside.
-I have been trying to walk Ernie with Tom before dinner, instead of continuing to prepare dinner like I did in the past. This gives me an extra few steps and I think Tom really likes debriefing his day with me like this. I have found that getting outside one more time is really good for me. I try to have dinner plated and then we just warm it up. Bonus points for me if I already have the dinner pots and pans washed, too.
-I have really stopped checking work email at home. I just check it one last time at work before leaving after school and then I wait until I arrive the next morning. I used to check work email on my phone before getting out of bed. Why? Nothing is urgent in my line of work.
-My principal sends a video of him talking about the week ahead with a power point at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. This video is anywhere from 8-15 minutes long. He even says “Happy Sunday!” like he expects us to watch it right then. I now watch it on Monday morning. I just change it to “Happy Monday” in my head and all is good. I have heard from many colleagues that they don’t watch it at all. I’m too much of a rule follower to go that far, plus I do want to be informed! Many of my colleagues say they just wish he would put the video content in an email form because watching a video seems “extra”.
-Making lists – sometimes just getting something out of my brain and on paper really helps.
-Getting outside! I think we all know how good this is. I even had the chance last week to sit in a chair in the grass by the river and take my shoes off and touch the ground with my bare feet. This is supposed to be really good for you. It can’t hurt, unless you put your foot on a nail or dog doo doo.
-Exercising! Yes, it really does help. Tom is so cranky when he doesn’t exercise. He goes to the gym 6-7 days a week on top of lots of walking with Ernie and bike riding when it gets warmer. He also paddleboards on the river. I will never be on that level, but I love starting my day with a workout now and it really does positively affect my mood all day.
-I am outsourcing or not doing some things that stress me out. I love strolling through a grocery store leisurely to see what new products are out and to get inspiration for meals, but right now I don’t have that kind of time. I use my Kroger app to order the following week’s groceries on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings these days and then do my pick up immediately after school on Wednesday or Thursday. I feel like I have given myself the gift of time back on the weekends. It feels great to be fully stocked! If I forget something, running in to get a couple of items seems easy.
-I make it a point to either see or talk on the phone and to hear a voice of at least one friend a week.
-I treat myself with love and kindness. I give myself the good smells that I enjoy, the fabrics that feel good, the hot drinks I enjoy, the rest I need, etc. You must treat yourself well.
-I do less. Erica had maybe 5 errands to run after school one day. I made the comment that she was doing more in one day than I do in a week. Sometimes you just can’t do less, but by being organized and planning ahead you can often “bundle” your errands or make do with things you already have. I think this is especially important right now with high gas prices. I go to the library and Trader Joe’s at the same time because they are close, for example.
-I try to laugh everyday. I’m lucky that my job provides lots of laughs. I can also be assured of laughter when I listen to my favorite podcast Watch What Crappens. The hosts recap and make fun of shows on Bravo.
-I stopped wearing a mask to school! I have noticed in the almost 3 weeks without the mask mandate that more and more kids are feeling comfortable and taking theirs off. I don’t know of any kids who are currently positive and quarantining. We still provide weekly testing for those involved in sports and activities and those that just want to be tested. I still have maybe 1/4 to 1/3 wearing masks in each class.
I played a silly game on Friday in my Spanish 3 classes. They have never played this game before, but my AP class has played it and loves it.
I divide the class into teams of 4-5 students and each team has a “runner”. I shout out an object in Spanish and the teams have to figure out what that object is and see who on their team has it and the first team to “run” the item to my front table gets a point. I shout things like “paraguas” which means umbrella or “un examen con una nota de U” which means a test with a grade of a U (which means failing).
You also need to know that our students can have lockers, but no one uses them anymore. They carry their worldly posessions in backpacks to 7 classes each day. When I was in high school, we went to our lockers between each class, and only took a notebook and a book to class. Things have changed since the 80s!
There were so many genuine smiles during this game. They laughed and laughed at the crazy things people carry around in their backpacks. I don’t think I caught anyone looking at their phone during the game. It really warmed my heart. I am still thinking about seeing all of those smiling faces. Man, it was good for soul and my mental health!
How are you doing right now with your mental health?
What do you do to stay mentally healthy?