(By Mike McVay) It’s a topic that few people want to talk about, but one that we should: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a time designated to call attention to the challenges that many of us face at one time or another in our lives. I’ve long been a believer in therapy. If you ask my close friends, they will tell you that I speak openly about the benefits of counseling and in making one’s self a lifelong project.
Creatives tend to have high highs and low lows. After all, if you’re a talent, you’re sitting in a room by yourself, talking into a piece of metal, and you believe that people are hearing what you’re saying. You can visualize who you’re speaking to and you know that they’re paying attention. I have often said that the most creative in our business hear a party in their head that the rest of us haven’t been invited to … and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a gift.
My family believes, as do I, that Mental Health is important. One of my daughters, Nikki Lanigan, is a yoga, HIIT, and Barre instructor, she is also a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Nikki is trained in Yoga Shred, Yoga Psychology, Meditation, Chakra Balancing, and EFT/Tapping. She contributes a weekly blog to the website for the nationally syndicated The Bob & Sheri Show. She is also a podcaster and hosts the series Fit, Fun, and Frazzled which posts weekly.
I turned to Nikki for help with this week’s column. These are her words:
If I asked you on a scale of 0 to 10 how happy you are, what would you say? How many people can say that they’re 10/10 feeling happy and joyous? My guess is that it’s not 10 out of 10. We’ve normalized feeling 4 out of 10. We spend our time thinking about how to be more successful, a better parent, a better person – what about feeling better? Spending more time on ourselves to feel better? When we feel better about ourselves, people around us feel better about being with us, and that in itself has a self-affirming benefit.
Since I started coaching others, I’ve seen a pattern that I sometimes see in myself, that holds us back from success. We compare ourselves to the wrong people. People who look to us as successful and happy, when in reality that may not be their reality. You think you’re not enough. Everyone struggles with not feeling good enough (even kids, Tweens, and teens) – in their careers, relationships, or personal lives.
Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself what do you really want? More peace, more time? More money, success, or recognition from your peers and your employer? Ask yourself these questions. Don’t judge yourself with your answer.
Ways you may be preventing yourself from being happy:
- You compare yourself to others. Social media gives us a look into all of how others are succeeding, with awards on display, marriages, “perfect family” pictures, and all other accolades and trophies people tend to boast about with themselves and especially their kids. The main thing to remember is that this isn’t all real. People tend to put all their wins on display, not their failures. It is their highlight reel.
- You’re doing things based on other people’s happiness. Focusing on making sure your loved one’s needs are being met may make you forget to satisfy your own needs.
- You are doing things based on other people’s opinions and what they are telling you to do and think you should do. You are your own person and you know what is best for yourself and your family. Don’t let others’ opinions and views change your mind and sway you. You will end up feeling resentful in the end.
- You’re not practicing mindfulness. We know all the studies on breathwork and meditation. It works to help boost moods, lower cortisol levels, and so much more.
- You are staying in a negative mindset. You are the character on SNL, Debbie Downer.
- You are hanging out with people that constantly complain. Complaining is like mold. It spreads quickly. Don’t engage in constant complaining. We all like drama and to vent but sometimes it becomes constant and you need to pull away to get your mindset right.
- You are burnt out and putting everyone else ahead of your own needs and not asking for help. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break.
- You are chasing a “feeling.” You want the next big thing to make you happy. The next vacation, trip, salary raise, the car, material things, the job title, etc.
Everyone’s version of what makes them happy is different, but some ways can help boost your moods:
- Smile more.
- Exercise. Serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins change when you exercise.
- Listen to music.
- Get sleep.
- Start a Gratitude practice and be grateful.
- Give back.
- Give compliments to others and accept compliments when they are given to you.
- Breathe work.
- Stop Complaining. Catch yourself and start to rewire your brain and thinking.
- Spend time with friends, family, and loved ones that bring out the joy in you and make you feel happy.
- Help others, acts of service, and volunteer work.
- Less time on Social Media (It’s such a mind trap. Our kids need less time too. Social media is setting them up to compare themselves to other All-The-Time).
- Explore Positive Affirmations.
- Take Days to Rest.
Connect with Nikki here. Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]. Read Mike’s Radio Ink archives here.
Excellent article, Mike.