Everybody needs free easy forms of self care. I’m a neurodivergent toddler mom with anxiety, ADHD, depression, body-focused repetitive behavior, and binge eating disorder. I also have Lipedema and hypermobility. Cheers!
How can I make sure I’m doing everything I can to improve my mental well-being, for myself, my child, and my life?
I’ve been working for 20 years to find a balanced treatment for my mental health. I finally feel at peace with the system I’ve got going: antidepressants, low dose anti anxiety meds, ADHD meds, and lots and lots of therapy.
On top of that, I recently had weight loss surgery (vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve) and that led me to take a bunch of vitamins and start exercising regularly. So far, that’s going pretty well.
What one activity helps my mental health the most?
I learned in therapy that one thing that helps my mental health unequivocally is meditation. I’m at my best when I have a steady routine of daily meditation, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.
Guided meditation is my favorite kind. I like to find a quiet spot, turn off the lights, sit upright in a comfortable chair, put on headphones or earbuds, turn on an audio guided meditation track, rest my hands in my lap, close my eyes, and get centered. It feels wonderful just to relax for a few minutes, let my racing mind take a break, and come back with more energy and a better perspective. It’s one of those things that science says can reduce stress and benefit well-being and overall health, based on evidence. Exercise does those things too, but meditation is literally just sitting there doing nothing. It’s painless. It’s quiet. It’s easy and free. Now that’s an activity I can get behind.
Here’s how I got started with meditation.
The very first guided meditation I ever did was from the UCLA Health website, at my desk. The track is 12 minutes, and it’s called Breath, Sound, Body Meditation. Their link is still posted, and it’s free, and you can find it here, along with several others.
It felt so calming and renewing that in the days that followed, I listened to the free Loving Kindness Meditation (play it here) from that same site. I still remember picturing the individuals in my life that caused me mental anguish (damn you, Amy!) and practicing the loving kindness meditation with them in mind. The next day, I did it again.
Loving Kindness meditation changed my life.
The results were incredible. This guided meditation was a turning point for me. It completely changed my perspective and I gained a new attitude toward the challenging people I encounter.
When my perspective on the difficult people changed, my interactions with them changed. It sounds silly, but it’s true. I no longer felt sick with worry when I had to work with them. For me, that’s huge. I mentioned this in passing to my therapist, and she was delighted. She has a bunch of credentials, but she is a strong proponent of meditation as well as a clinically certified hypnotherapist. She recommended a guided meditation that she enjoyed by Roberta Shapiro, so I gave that one a try. I absolutely loved it.
This led me to trying other guided meditations, including Headspace (love) and several others. And it is so, so good for me.
I meditate as a form of self care. Taking this time for me is so helpful for my mental health. Meditation allows me to sort out my thoughts and accept life without judgment. It helps raise my self confidence. It gives me positive energy that I know radiates to the people around me. I had no idea something so small could have such a big impact, but it really does. If you’re on the fence about it, or you’ve tried it in the past but couldn’t get into it, I recommend giving it another chance. If you couldn’t meditate on your own, try guided meditations, and if you didn’t like guided meditations, try practicing it another way. I hope it helps you clear your head, leads you toward self acceptance, and gives you focus on what really matters in life.