Mental Health Day today 10th October 2021, theme for this year being 'Mental Health in an Unequal World', about the need to focus on health beyond the physical in a sustained way, especially at a time when we still fight the coronavirus.
Many people will have heard of “the rhythm of life” and how this is manifest through habit, as well as the concept of a “comfort zone.” Sometimes situations arise that take us out of that comfort zone, such as an aggressive change to our rhythm, that may lead us to retaliate with the same level of energy, similar to the motion of a pendulum swing.
Newton’s third law states that “for every action there is an equal reaction', which means we have the ability to over-consume what we believe will make ourselves feel better, as it equals the level of stress we are experiencing.
Psychologist Adam Phillips stated, 'We are all extremists in our own way'. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are destined to repeat them, so what is the lesson to be learned when we have an unexpected disruption, causing the pendulum to swing, which in turn causes us to react through over-consumption, to level out the issue that arose in the first place?
Introducing habits into our coping mechanisms is key. Here are some coping mechanisms to consider when you face an unexpected disruption.
Awareness – Ask yourself, what is the gap between knowing and doing? What are you doing when you have that challenging experience? The week starts off well, what happens when the pendulum swings outside of that comfort zone? What happens to you? What behaviour occurs? Where do you run to?
Self-compassion – Address the situation as it is happening with us, not to us. Acknowledge the chaos, as it is inevitable, however, it is something we can take control of. Imagine going up a roller coaster, the pendulum has swung, and all the feelings are flying through and about to push you through to the other side as you descend. The first step is to breathe! Pause! Visualise the problem! Take time to understand what is happening and how it is affecting you: give yourself self-compassion. You want to deaden the swing and apply the brakes on the pendulum swing.
Deaden that swing - Create space! Decompress! Write three or four things you can do to create this space; it must be personal and realistic to your own positive vibe. What does that look like? Be careful not to be hyper critical, remember the feelings of peace, love and joy which produces good vibes, whilst guilt and shame will bring you to the opposite end of low feeling, resulting in anger, upset, disappointment. This is all being created by you! By creating self-compassion, we learn more about ourselves, where we put ourselves and how we can manage that pendulum swing.
Reset the rhythm – This means grounding ourselves and resetting that ticker to ensure we sit calmer with ourselves. Use breathing techniques and create a different approach to behaviours which can include a walk before work, exercise or reading and learning something new.
Slowly create the new habit and re-calibrate the approach to stresses in your life; by building self-mastery and resilience, you will still experience those uncertainties, but you can manage that pendulum swing differently.