This post provides practical physical, mental, and emotional tools you can use TODAY to start shifting out of emotions, like fear, anxiety, and depression. If you like this, stay in touch over in my Facebook community, Holistic Health for the Avid Adventurer, where I do free trainings on topics like this one. If you’re interested in strategic 1-1 support, schedule a free call and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. I would love to help you achieve your goals now or in the future! ~ Katie
There was a time in my life when I lacked the motivation to even get out of bed. I felt hopeless and overwhelmed. I knew I wasn’t living the life I wanted to, but I didn’t know how to get out of my rut. I wanted to make better decisions for myself, and when I failed to do so, day after day, I would feel even more frustrated.
This cycle repeated itself until I finally started to make tiny shifts each day, which compounded, eventually resulting in an entirely new way of experiencing my day to day life. Having been in and out of this cycle multiple times, it’s now easier to recognize when I’m falling into a funk, and I now have a set of tools that get be back into an optimal state more quickly.
Having a toolkit of physical practices and mental frameworks provides a means to move through these challenging emotions and into a place of greater personal power. From there, I’m much more effective at supporting those around me and acting in alignment with my truth.
This post goes into some of those tools that have helped me shift out of anxiety, fear, anger, and despair. Feel free to take what works for you and leave the rest.
For a long time, I fell into the trap of believing that my mental and emotional suffering wasn’t “severe enough” to be worth addressing. I now realize that suffering is relative, and the world needs each of us feeling our best so we can show up to do the work we’re here to do, whether that’s through our jobs, or as parents, or by sharing our stories, etc.
It’s important to note that our physical, emotional, and mental health are intricately intertwined. When one is suffering, the other pillars inevitably suffer as well. For instance, when you’re treating your body like crap, you’re less emotionally and mentally resilient. We’ll get more into why that is in a minute.
Finally, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t feel our emotions. I think it’s important to feel, to acknowledge, and to work through them, but not to get stuck in them.
Why do I feel like crap?
Before I get into the practices that help move me into a better mental and emotional state, here are some factors I’ve identified that consistently contribute to feeling less than ideal. When I notice myself in a slump, I can usually find one or more of these at play.
- I’m caring too much about fitting in or meeting someone else’s expectations or being “perfect” … essentially, I’m giving other people’s/society’s opinions too much weight.
- I’m hyper focused on myself, my needs, and my own experience.
- I’m taking myself too seriously.
- I’m creating the illusion that I’m alone.
- I’m viewing my own sensitivity as a weakness rather than a gift.
- I’m acting out of alignment with my value system.
- I’m not supporting my physical body (e.g. under- or overeating; not enough sun; not getting out in nature; not making time for rest and pleasure.
Based on the above, you might guess that some of the strategies for moving into a different state are essentially the opposite of the root causes.
How do I shift my mental and emotional state?
- Focus on eating real food. This means whole foods, like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and salmon. Cut back on hormone-disrupting, inflammatory foods, like processed sugar. Quit dieting. Learn how to tune into genuine hunger and how to stop when satiated. For an explanation on why real food supports better mental health, read up on the food-mood connection, the role of the microbiome in neurotransmitter production, and the effects of blood sugar stabilization on mood.
- Don’t overcaffeinate.
- Move the body daily, from a place of joy, not punishment.
- Daily time in nature, ideally with some skin exposed to the sunlight.
- Serve others. Even if that just means holding the door for someone.
Emotional + Mindset Practices
- Give up perfectionism. As Brene would say, “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be, and embrace who you are”. Perfection is a myth and chasing it stems from a feeling of not being ‘enough’, just as I am. So, I focus on the root of why that feeling is there in the first place.
- Daily practices that rewire my brain towards seeing the positive. The negativity bias is the notion that we’re hard-wired to look for dangers and threats in our environment. For me, a daily journal session focused on anything that’s going right in my life (even if it’s the tiniest thing) slowly trains my brain to find the positive.
- Cultivate resilience by framing challenges as lessons and as an essential part of becoming my most whole, expressed self.
- Raise my self awareness through personal development work.
- Reframe sensitivity and empathy as a gift and learn to set boundaries appropriately.
- Define what matters to me and what my values are. Act accordingly.
- Zoom out to see the bigger picture. I have a Pale Blue Dot print which reminds me that this life is short and fleeting, and that my ‘problems’ are probably not as big as they seem in the grand scheme of things.
Is it selfish to spend time on self care?
I believe that having compassion for others goes hand in hand with having compassion for ourselves. When I take care of myself, I’m better equipped to take care of others. Remember, it’s not selfish to put your own oxygen mask on first.