Back to the size-up analogy. You should develop the habit of “sizing up” your mental health daily, and particularly following a stressor event (e.g., an emotional call or argument with your spouse or children). Use those same size-up questions you use every day at work:
- What has happened?
- What is happening (How do you feel?)
- What is going to continue to happen unless you intervene?
Here are some strategies for your intervention:
Have something you enjoy doing. Maybe it’s exercise, fishing, golf, hiking, or meditating. Find something that you enjoy doing as an outlet to release your stress, so it doesn’t build up and develop into something more serious.
Unplug from electronic devices. Being connected 24/7 has become a significant source of stress for many people. Take a break—daily, once a week, a few times a month—it’s not the duration, it’s the action.
Put Your Thoughts to Paper: Getting your thoughts and emotions down on paper—even if you eventually thrown them away—is a powerfully cathartic activity used by many people who work in high-stress environments. Keeping a daily journal gives you an opportunity to go back and review how you felt about a similar event in the past and how you responded to it.
Stimulate Your Senses: In a good way! Read a book, watch a documentary on TV, take a cooking class, take up woodworking. The point is to give those other parts of your brain some time to do their thing.
Be Good to You: Learn how to treat yourself to small “guilty pleasures.” Doesn’t have to be expensive but it should make you feel good.
Laugh: Don’t believe that laughter is genuinely good medicine? You’re going to argue with the Mayo Clinic? Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke