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Be Gentle on Yourself

May 18, 2020

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I think now is a good time to revisit one of my favorite subjects: being good to yourself.

I'll be very honest with you: between working, moving, and replanning a wedding, I am spent. My brain is exhausted. In this season of change and uncertainty, I find myself scattered and unable to concentrate. My mind keeps bouncing between "what if" and "you should" and it leaves me breathless with guilt over not accomplishing more. It's in these moments I have to remind myself to be gentle. I don't need to write the next best seller. I don't need to master the art of breadmaking or become a yogi. I need to give my brain a rest. Here are some of my go-tos when I need to be kind to myself.

Take a Walk

Much like the song of the same name by Passion Pit, I take a walk when things get too overwhelming. It helps get my body moving, which acts as a hard reset on my brain. To feel my legs moving and my heart pumping really puts me in the moment. It puts me in control of my body, which is crucial when things feel beyond my control. Walks also get me outside, which is where I refill my creative well. Feeling the wind in my face or the sun on my back really jumpstarts my creativity and puts me in a better headspace to do what I need to do. Can't go for a walk? That's okay. Sit out on a balcony or in your yard to catch some rays. Even opening a window can help to remind you that there's a world beyond your front door.

Consume Media

There's no greater way to take your mind off something than to escape into something, whether that be a book, show, or even an album. Personally, I've been struggling to sit down and read at home, so I've been watching and listening to a lot of stuff. Currently, I'm trying to inhale every Ben Schwartz show I can find and blasting Frank Turner as loud as I can. The Be More Kind album has been particularly helpful, as I have been listening to "Brave Face" on repeat. I've written about Frank before, but I think it's worth mentioning him again. I've also been running to things I love that feel comfortable. So reread Harry Potter for the 43rd time. Binge The Office again. Like an old friend, a favorite show, book, or album can offer up much-needed consistancy and comfort.

Sit in Silence

This is so hard for me to do. I crave the distraction of noise or chores to keep me from really focusing on anything meaningful. If I'm always in motion, I don't have to think about what worries me. But never sitting still means never letting my brain processing anything, so I am starting small. Try sitting in a chair and just staring out a window, or find a few minutes in the day to empty your head. If you would rather have some guidance through this exercise, there are countless mediation resources available through the NPL Universe.

Most importantly, be good to yourself. Things are already hard out there, so don't be so hard on yourself. 

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Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.