I recently started a practice that I’d like to share with you. When it comes to our well-being, one of the biggest and yet most overlooked aspects of our health is mental load, stress, and outlook on life.
In fact, when we break health down there are three main categories: physical health, chemical health, and mental health. We very often think about physical health: are we sitting too much, have we had a walk today, what workout should I be doing? A close second is chemical health: what diet are should I be on? What does X Instagram Influencer eat in a day? Should I give up lattes? And then, way in the back, is mental health. In fact, sometimes we even self-aggrandize poor mental health.
Have you ever heard someone brag about being soooo stressed out? What about that friend who laughs and rapidly tells you how out of control their lives and schedules are? Or perhaps a family member who pridefully tells you how they’re answering work emails in the middle of the night, from bed, on their cell phones? This is the mental equivalent of bragging about having an eating disorder. Mental health is a real thing and it can be damaged just like our physical bodies. In fact, left out of control, it will begin to affect us in a very physical way.
The list of very real physical and mental diseases that chronic stress can cause is long and varied and includes everything from heart disease to alopecia. It is extremely important to begin to include practices into your daily life that are nourishing for your mental health. One practice that I’ve come across lately and really enjoy is the act of setting an emotional intention for the day. I simply ask myself, “what do I want to feel today?”
The answer varies from day to day, but I’ve found this practice to be an important touchstone that helps me to return again and again to the thoughts and emotions that will support me that day instead of being blown about by the emotion of the moment. For example, a few days ago I chose ENGAGEMENT and EXCITEMENT. I had a long workday that I wanted to really engage with and feel invigorated by. Choosing those words helped me to then choose the actions and mental outlook that supported felling those same emotions. Yesterday, I chose TRUST and PEACE as my touchstone feeling words of the day. Today I chose HAPPY LOVE. Now, that’s a good one!
By choosing my touchstone feelings of the day I can more easily decide if what I’m feeling is in line with what my desires are for the day and re-frame the story in my head or the actions I’m taking to then experience those emotions.
Here’s how you start this practice:
1. First, decide when and how you’d like to remind yourself to choose your touchstone feeling words. I can see the value in doing this before bed the night before, however, I’ve chosen to set a reminder alarm on my phone for 7 AM, around the time I’m putting on my makeup. Then, as I’m sitting before my mirror readying my face for the day I can also choose my touchstone emotion words to ready my mind for the day. If you’re not tech savvy then you might chose to write a note in dry-erase on your mirror or place a sticky note somewhere prominent.
2. Next, really solidify those words into your mind. Think of a memory to help remind you of what the emotions you chose are like inside your mind and how your body feels when you’re experiencing those emotions.
3. And last, throughout the day, keep reminding yourself of your touchstone words. As you feel any other strong emotions creeping in that you don’t want to have as a part of your day just acknowledge them and re-center on what you do want to feel.
I’ve had the chance to test-drive this technique through several tough situations and a few difficult conversations and find it to be very helpful. If you decide to try this technique, let us know if you found it helpful! How did you choose to remind yourself and keep the emotion top-of mind? Let us know!
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