Anxiety is a friend that’s trying to tell you something.
This piece of advice is one that I learned while seeing my first effective and impactful therapist, Scott. It is also one that I found myself bringing up in my therapy session today because it has been on my mind for the past week or so. Lately, I have been experiencing more anxiety due to my hormones, which is causing my mental health to be quite unpredictable.. So, for a week or so, I have put aside some extra time to do “self assessments,” usually one when I first wake up and then throughout the day at work.
What do I mean by “self assessment”? When I first wake up in the morning, I ask myself if I slept well and what dreams I may have had (I’m known for having crazy dreams). If I didn’t sleep and/or had a dream that led to any negative emotions, that is my first sign that my anxiety may flare up more. Next, I focus on my breathing. I am pretty familiar with my anxiety and can recognize the weighted feeling on my chest or the quickness of my heartbeat. If I feel either of these, that means I should skip my morning coffee. How does my mind feel? Does it seem relaxed or does it feel like static? For me, anxiety can feel like a radio blaring in my head while it’s stuck between two stations. If it’s the latter, I should remember to ground myself throughout the day. Since my anxiety right now is from an internal source (i.e. chemicals and hormones), I am more focused on my physical state and assessing how I should handle my day based on it. On a usual day, I might ask different questions like, “does this day hold any special significance to me,” or, “do I have anything coming up in my life that I should being mentally preparing for?”
Although this post so far has been very personalized, this is a process that everyone should be going through. Listening to your body is essential to understanding your mental health. Then, take it a step further and make changes based on this assessment to better your physical and mental wellbeing.
eat. sleep. hydrate.
In my opinion, these are the easiest changes that you can make to your life to benefit your mental health and are my go-to self care tips for someone that isn’t familiar with the concept. Eat (something healthy), give your body enough sleep, and drink more water. Caring for some of your basic physical needs will help to create a healthier and more supportive structure for your mind.
When you’re touring and on the road constantly, it can be difficult to find the balance between listening to your body and participating in tour life. In a recent event at my college, Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line, Vacationer) spoke about the importance of sleep on the road and how immensely a good night’s rest could impact his mental health the next day, even if it meant missing an afterparty the night before. Creating a priority list for yourself can be extremely beneficial in helping you make decisions if you’re faced with a dilemma between something positive for your mental health and your social life/career, or even trying to find a balance between the two. Listen to your body and try to make some non-negotiables that will take priority over other situations to keep your physical and mental health in check. Non-negotiables might be getting at least 6 hours of sleep, eating fruit, staying sober, showering in the morning, or having a morning coffee. They don’t need to be unique or life changing to be daily routines that benefit your wellbeing.
So when you wake up in your room, or your friend’s room, or in your bunk, or in the backseat of a van, or in a hotel in who-knows-where, listen to your body. Do a self assessment. And drink some water.