When it comes to getting through tough times, particularly seasons that can feel fraught with business, family stress, money stress, loneliness, or not enough time alone, it can feel like each day is a fight to the finish.
We're relieved when it's over and wake up feeling heavy and uninspired. If you are at all feeling like you're surviving these days rather than thriving, I want to share something with you that has helped me a lot.
Whenever you feel like you JUST CAN'T for a second longer, do this: imagine you are sitting before a toolbox.
Visualize the toolbox in whatever way is appealing to you. Maybe it's shiny and new. Or maybe it's old and weather worn, like an old pirate chest. Perhaps it's ten feet tall, with multiple drawers of various sizes. Or maybe it's small with a handle, so you can carry it around. Whatever feels right to you, go with that.
Now imagine you open the toolbox and inside are all of the mental health and well-being tools you've learned. Things that have previously helped you when you were stressed. For example, here's what I see in my toolbox:
When you look at that list you might think, 'Those things are simple! I have BIG, COMPLEX problems and I need BIG solutions! None of that will help me!'
I hear you, but keep in mind, the tools that build beautiful, sturdy, long lasting homes are equally simple. A hammer and nails puts up walls. A small piece of metal puts up drywall. The tools that build homes are everyday items that anyone can learn to use.
More often than not, we already have the tools we need to build, repair, and maintain our own selves. We just don't consider that they'll work because we sometimes don't trust that if something is simple and easy, it works. But simple and easy is the whole reason these tools do work!
And if it feels as if you've opened an empty toolbox, and there's nothing in there, there's something you can put in there right now. It requires no experience, no classroom, no teacher, and no money. In fact, it's something you're doing right now! Are you ready? Here it is:
If you saw the word BREATHE and thought 'Hoswash! If breathing solved my problems, I wouldn't be on your damn website!' hold tight - I promise this tool is more useful than it sounds.
First of all, it's possible that right now you're breathing shallow and tight. When we breathe in this way, it sends a signal to the body that something is wrong. It triggers chemical responses in us that say, "We're not breathing right! Something is wrong! PANIC! PANIC! PANIC!" This in turn builds on itself, making us feel as if we're right to be afraid, because we feel afraid, and we're breathing tighter, things must be getting worse...
But if we would just take a few deep breaths, it would send an entirely different chemical signal through the body.
Deep breathing soothes the nervous system, slows down the heart rate, and immediately begins to release tension.
Deep breathing is a tool you have right now. Put it in your box and know that soon, that toolbox will be overflowing with a variety of other tools. Tools you will soon master and use with such efficiency, you'll feel like a master of your emotional and mental well-being.
So remember, whatever's happening, you got this! You've got a toolbox, there's already a helpful tool in there, and as you face new challenges, you will naturally add more. I find this exercise to be the most helpful when I actually write it down. I write TOOLBOX at the top of a piece of paper, and then list all my tools, even the ones I'm just beginning to learn, below it. Once you start writing, you'll be surprised how many things you think of.
If you're still not feeling better, and spiraling down in feelings of anxiety or overwhelm, you might want to try my Deep Relief & Emotional Healing meditation. It's specifically designed for when you can't stop intense, negative feelings. I would also suggest Surrender & Allow, which is so soothing it can also be used a sleep aid. Best of all, you can add these as tools to your already growing toolbox!