2019, June 05

Mental Wellness Challenge

Last week I challenged you to be aware of how you float your boat. To be aware of how your actions, presence, interactions effect those around you. I hope you had some rewarding insights. I know that I did and I caught myself on a number of occasions being a supertanker and not being aware that I was washing people over with my wake. Definitely something I have to work on. The work continues.


This week’s challenge has three parts. A box, a letter (this is going to carry forward to the next two challenges as well) and STRESS.


  1. A BOX. This week I challenge you to start building a smile box. Find a box – it could be a shoe box, a box your find at a store or maybe even a box you build. Totally up to you. This box will be used to contain things that make you smile. These can be any little thing.


Some examples of things I have in my box are:


An old brass compass I have from my father. The compass doesn’t work any more because when I was a kid I played with the compass with a magnet and I messed with the compass needle. I keep this because it reminds me of my father, the things I learned from him (both good and bad) and it helps me to remember that he needed guidance on his path too.


A couple of bandages that a good friend gave me (still in the wrappers) that have a little message on them about “carrying on…”


An old keychain with a couple of keys on it. The keychain has a feature that it will beep and dwiddle when you whistle. I used to use it to help me mind my keys… You see, with ADHD – I lose track of my keys constantly. It makes me smile a little when I think about how far I’ve come since I learned about the disorder.


A wet nap from a restaurant that has a saying “64% of all statistics are made up”. Makes me smile because of the who/what/where and when I came across it.



The idea of the smile box is that when you are having a bad day, you can go to the smile box and connect with a tangible item that has good memories for you, that makes you smile. Some of the things I put in my smile box not only make me smile but help to lend perspective. It’s a tool, a support for days when I need a boost. Putting things in the box is an intentional act that I do for myself to put a little ballast in my keel (that nautical theme keeps popping up) to help keep me upright in rough water.


  1. The letter. I challenge you to write the “You of ten years ago” a letter of encouragement. (I 100% know that I can’t change anything that happened 2 seconds ago – let alone 10 years ago…). I challenge you to think back 10 years and examine a time about that long ago when you having a tough time. I want you to think about that person, their circumstances, the “place” they were in and I want you to write a letter of support and encouragement for that person.


Encourage that person as strongly as you can. You have the intimate details of what the person was dealing with. Tell that person that you believe in them, that you KNOW that they are going to get through this (because you did!) and that you love them.


I can’t be too much more descriptive here or I will end up coloring your letter too much. This is about you reflecting on a challenging time in your life that you know you made it through! It’s a reflection exercise.


This letter could be a card, a note, or a multipager – depending on your situation, the ease at which you put thoughts on paper and your commitment to the challenge.


Once you have the letter written, put it in an envelope, address it to yourself, and MAIL IT!


When you get the letter back – let your heart connect with the support and encouragement that you reading! (I have to be honest here – when I did this for myself the first time it was SUPER powerful. I put a lot of my heart into the letter and it mattered! Sincerely, I don’t wait for letters to show up in the mail – but I was checking the mail – just knowing that this letter was on the way.)


  1. STRESS This week, I challenge you to think about stress. Good stress, bad stress. It’s all stress. I challenge you to think about what you do with your stress…


One definition of stress:

Stress is a normal response to situational pressures or demands, especially if they are perceived as threatening or dangerous. Stress is the result of brain chemicals, called hormones, surging through the body. These hormones make people sweat, breathe quicker, tense their muscles and prepare to take action.


– Where do you carry it? I carry 60% of my stress in my shoulders and neck and most of the rest in my gut.


– What colour is it? Is it red hot? Is it yellow? Is it black? I challenge you to think about why it is that color. For example: Good stress for me can be yellow. It’s a sharp, daffodil yellow. A happy color. I have lots of colors for bad stress. Bad stress for me can be a burnt red color.


– Where does it come from? (This is the fascinating piece for me and I’m not going to share my views here until next week)


– If you had to give it a sound, what would that sound be? Good stress for me can sound like trumpets heralding my new grandson, a woodpecker banging away on a hollow tree or perhaps the sound of my spouse breathing. Sometimes bad stress sounds like trumpets warning of danger or an annoying woodpecker banging on a hollow tree…


– How acute/urgent is the stress?


Being aware of my stress and stressors helps me to manage it. If I am living on autopilot and not paying attention to where I am in my life, I can get buried in stress. I will share more about my stress next week, but for this week – I just challenge you to try and be a little more aware of your stress.


So there it is – there’s my challenge for the week in its three parts.

I challenge you to start a smile box.

I challenge you to write a letter to the you from 10 years ago.

I challenge you to start building an awareness of stress.


This challenge goes to values, awareness, supports, persistence/commitment, and action in my model.