Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, April 17

My mental wellness challenge to you last week was:

  1. Practice physical distancing. Maintain that 2m distance between yourself and any other that doesn’t live in the same house as you do.
  2. Be kind – be especially kind… to your family, to your neighbors, to the folks that are working to support all of us.
  3. Be grateful.

I did well with this challenge – as well as I could do.

On the physical distancing piece – I was able to maintain the ‘hoola-hoop’ factor for folks I don’t live with.  There was a fella in one of the grocery stores who was hell bent on getting into my personal space for some reason – “ignorance, bullish personality, or just being an asshat” – but I looked after myself and backed out of his way when he was budding in…etc.  Other than that – I’ve pretty much just been at home with my spouse.

On being kind – I did my best.  Even to the “asshat” in the grocery store.  We really are “all in this together – apart” and kindness takes all sorts of forms – so yes – I was able to be intentionally kind.

On being grateful – I was successful.  I try to be sincerely grateful as much as I can.  I find that my gratitude helps me realize perspective.  I believe that gratitude is a gift I give myself.

You’ve maybe noticed that I have moved my blog to Fridays from Thursdays.  This happened because I am currently off Fridays and I can dedicate some thinking and writing time on Fridays.  Depending on the how things go – I may stay with this or I might move it back to the Thursday editions… time will tell.

This week – I’d like to share about my experiences lately with fences, borders and boundaries.  Boundaries mostly – but the idea that “Good fences make good neighbors.”, well established borders help to keep peoples and countries safe and orderly, and that boundaries are important for my mental wellness.

Very much like the idea of physical distancing is important to stop the spread of COVID-19 (that intentional maintenance of the physical space between persons to limit exposure to the virus), I am learning that I – especially now – need to set and intentionally maintain boundaries that relate to my mental health.

This isn’t a new concept – but it is one that I continually struggle with.  Ideas and concepts like:

  • Taking on responsibility for “things” that are totally outside of my influence.
  • Feeling like “I gotta fix all this”, when the “this” really isn’t mine to fix.
  • Worry and rumination regarding “stuff” I can’t control. (I include this as a different point than taking on responsibility as I believe that I worry about things that I am totally not responsible for and have zero ability to affect change over.)
  • 75 hours a day – 4 days a week, or 7 hours a day 5 days a week – instead of 15 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week… my home/work life balance piece… it’s always, always been an issue.
  • Limiting exposure to negativity and hype… the news, Facebook, social media etc.
  • Intentionally attending to things like diet, exercise and quiet time

There’s more that I could list – but I think my idea here is clear.  “I’m not very good at looking after myself.”  That is one realistic way of saying it.  In some ways I am very very self-centered, in other ways I have a tough time maintaining self-care – including maintaining boundaries.

Hmmm… Boundaries:

  • Time is one that I need to work on this week for my own self.
  • Responsibility is one that I have started to exercise more this past week – and will continue with…
    but I also have to watch other boundary issues like
  • “Personal investment” – that situation that sometimes occurs when I find myself being super invested in another person or project – and there’s no return on my investment. Even the philanthropic desire some return on their giving… it’s a truth.

So – I suppose – those are three that I share a little more on… seeing as they were the first three to “pop up” for me…

Time – I am going to set a boundary about time.  Not just my work time – that piece for certain – but time I spend reading, time I watch news, time I exercise, time sleep and time that I spend alone.  I am going to start – today – to be intentional, realistic and responsible (to myself) about time.

Responsibility – I am going to continue to be intentional about my taking on – or not – of responsibilities.  I am not going to chase after students that are not handing in work.  I am going to SLOW THINGS DOWN and think about the “HOW” I am responding to others comments and to issues that may or may not be within my control and influence.  I tell myself – (apparently I don’t listen to myself very well… ) that I have a responsibility to choose how I respond… and I have a responsibility to choose how I react.  Charles R. Swindoll shares ““Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”.  I’ve shared his words before – and – I too often forget that my contentment, my happiness is MY RESPONSIBILITY

Personal investment – This is a BIGGY for me.  I haven’t really taken the time to seriously think about the “why do I do that” of this… I just know that I have a habit or propensity or “thing” I do when I get into a project or am involved with supporting someone or something.  I DIVE IN – I don’t usually check to see how “deep” the water will be or look to see if there are hidden dangers or maybe even check to see if the investment will bear fruit.  I find myself recoiling a little from this piece – part. 

There’s a piece of who I am that is feeling like I should dive in, I should be giving my all for the “cause”.  There’s another piece of me – it’s a part that says – “You’ve been down this road before and you got the shit kicked out of you for your investment… are you sure this is a good idea?”  And yes – there’s another piece of me that – for sure – when I have forgotten about losing my time, my emotional investment, my interpersonal investment and maybe even a financial investment – that goes diving back in again. 

An ah-ha moment for me – setting boundaries isn’t being cynical about the outcome of a project, a relationship or even an investment.  Setting boundaries really is about self-care.  Setting boundaries is the necessary piece of my mental wellness that I sincerely haven’t been doing very well. 

Thanks blog!  I have a copy of my model near me (seriously people – I have them all over) and as I am writing this – I realized an application of the edges of each facet – I am going to use that the edges of the model remind me of the boundaries that I need to set in my experience to help ensure my mental wellness.  Like borders, fences, sidewalks and tree lines – the boundaries in my experience WILL look different – but will now be represented by the edges of the octahedron.  Cool…

My mental wellness challenge for the week:

  1. Think about how your boundaries are helping you! Are there places in your experience where you should set firmer boundaries, are there places in your experience where maybe a wall has been built where picket fence would do?  Take a little time to reflect on you the boundaries you have in your life. 
    Fences really do make good neighbours.
  2. Exercise 1 random act of kindness – you can do more if you like.
  3. Be intentionally grateful! Tell one person that you are grateful for having them in your life, write down one thing during the week – more if you’d like – that you are grateful for, and reflect a little on what another’s experience might be like – perhaps someone less fortunate – to help you with perspective.

Please continue to support one another by practicing physical distancing, washing hands, being responsible in the food stores by NOT SQUEEZING THE PRODUCE and not picking up items and putting them down…   We ARE all in this together!   We all need to do our part!

So – That’s it – I challenge you!