We are coming to the end of Mental Health awareness week. While any opportunity to place a spotlight on our Mental health is important, I believe that it’s a habit we must cultivate ALL year around. At Change Grow Succeed, we focus on intentional behavioural change as a means to achieve results and in this blog (which I wrote 3 years ago), I share the behaviours and outlooks that I leverage from my own ‘mental health toolkit’ in times of need.
“Fear is born of a story we tell ourselves, so I chose to tell myself a different story. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.” Eckhart Tolle
I was reminded of what fear is at the start of the summer. You know, that knot in your stomach? That sinking feeling often accompanied by pure dread? I discovered that I would need surgery. I found a lump on my neck and was terrified. Following a battery of diagnostic assessments spanning 8 weeks (scans, biopsies, consults etc), it was decided that removal of half of my thyroid was unavoidable. I was terrified, not so much by the surgery but by what they might “find”. I knew I was handing myself over to the medical professionals fit and well and equally that I was signing up to enforced time out for an indefinite period of time, rendering me vulnerable and dare I say, ‘in need’. I am an active working mother of 3 children. I should also add that I also had major surgery less than 3 years ago which was challenging to recover from. I could feel panic setting in.
Ekhart Tolle, who wrote The Power of Now (and whom I cited in the opening quote) tells us that fear stems from our mind creating an anxiety gap around something that MIGHT happen, as distinct from something that is happening right now. Fear feeds off our mind living in the future! He argues that we can cope in the present moment but that it’s difficult to cope with something that is a mere mind projection!
Thankfully, my ‘inner coach’ knew that I was not about to spend the whole summer mentally torturing myself about what might happen. I couldn’t change my situation so I actively decided to focus on what I could do to support myself and a healthy mindset! I decided to challenge myself by seeking pleasure in and participating in the Now! Before I share what worked for me, I must add that there were blips and melt downs along the way- but being able to get myself back on track was the real win.
- Distraction– Yes! A little project directed my focus from the surgery. I decided on changing our bedroom and invested lots of time scouring through websites for ideas and inspiration.
- Connect with people that ground me – I consider myself lucky to have some wonderful people in my life. I was so grateful for time with my children, for the evening walks with friends and the chats over coffee
- Create comfort in my home e.g. consciously lighting a candle or popping flowers in a vase
- Indulge in my favourite things e.g. using my favourite tea cup or spending time at the sea
- Perspective & Gratitude – there are a lot of people who endure far worse with less. Zoning in on what I am grateful for was and is hugely transformative. And lastly,
- Have faith & Decide to be ok!
The operation went to plan and thankfully I’m on the right side of recovery and enjoying the new perspective my enforced time out has provided me with! Finally, I love this quote by Robert Tew and wanted to share it with you:
“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot and you’ll survive whatever is coming”
If you’re struggling with something, I truly hope you feel better soon.
Gillian McGrath is a Cork Based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For further information, contact her directly at Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com