As a mom, entrepreneur and as a regular ol’ human being, I wanted to take the time the time to talk about how I approach taking care of my mental health and health, in general. Ask any of my fellow Schmoozers or close friends but, to many people (and perhaps on social media), it seems like I take on and accomplish a lot. While some of this may be true, I am very self-reflective about what I take onto my plate and make sure I am trying to spend my time doing the things I enjoy most. Working on my business and with clients, spending time with family and friends and enjoying good television, books and music.
I don’t proclaim to be an expert at work-life balance, but it is something I strive for every day. My parents have been running a business for over thirty years and they always came home for dinner and they were always there. When I pictured my life and family, I hoped that I would be able to do the same. From the time I started Schmooz, I worked hard to set boundaries so that I could have the flexibility to do what I wanted to do for my family as much as possible. This only became more important once I had my daughter, though now it seems like I can fit so much more in a day.
Give a busy person more to do and they will shine, right?
There is a limit to how much I can say yes to, there is a limit to how many hours in the day I can schmooz for.
So how do I unwind between family, friends, baby, employees and clients?
Here are a few of the things I do to help myself unwind and get into a healthy headspace:
1. Cut out the things (or people) that make you feel worse. What are those for me?
- Dairy or too much red meat, food after 9:00 p.m. (water or tea only!)
- People who make me feel bad that I didn’t take much of a maternity leave
- People who want me to do social media work for them as a favour
2. Marie Kondo your closets (if not everything else): I literally came home today and decided to start with my closets. I refuse to Marie Kondo my books, but if you’re honest with yourself, you know what really needs cleansing. The act of cleaning is so therapeutic for me.
3. Take LONG showers: It works, try it! I know it’s not the best for the environment, so I can’t tell you to do this often, but sometimes silence and hot water does the trick.
4. Be aware when you’re not being kind to yourself, so you can fill that time with healthy activities and thoughts that help you and not hurt you. Recently, I took out my guitar again. I “learned” how to play about ten years ago and then met my husband, bought a rental property to flip and manage with him and forgot about the guitar. In the quiet times when I’m too tired to read and too exhausted/fed up from being on a computer all day to have more screen time, I have been practising the guitar again. One chord at a time, it feels my brain with hope, instead of replaying (and self-criticising) my day over and over again. I also like to use colouring books.
5. Eat cake. Or chips. Or drink tea. Or have a whole bowl of buttery noodles and broccoli (okay, my eating preferences might be odd). Or have 3 hotdogs and eat them off a skewer (no bun) or an entire bag of carrots with hummus. Whatever floats your boat. I try to live most days eating and living in moderation, but sometimes just being lazy and eating whatever you want is what does the trick.
6. Talk about it. You have something to say. So no matter how nonsensical it seems, your feelings are valid and there are people to reach out to. Isolation and loneliness is often the worst thing for those with mental health illnesses, but it is also the easiest thing to turn to when you feel down. Surround yourself with good people, and if it feels like there are no good people, find a good therapist.
How you take care of your mental health means different things to different people. It has been a long journey of understanding what works for me and trying to do more of that. It is never easy - I definitely still have days where it feels everything is out of my control and nothing calms me down except simply going to sleep and saying "Zoe, tomorrow is a new day."
I know it’s harder for some people to step back. I know that mental health illnesses can have absolutely nothing to do with triggers, and everything to do with brain chemistry...and that it can leave you feeling completely out of control. That on top of the weight of past and current relationships, trauma, stressful work environments and managing societal expectations, it is hard to see past the blur some days. It is never simple but, I think if we keep talking about it and supporting each other, we will be one step closer to living happy lives.
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