Monday, May 27, 2013

Taking care of my own mental health too...

With all of the activities going on during National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, I always have a tendency to wear myself a little thin emotionally. It is such an important time of the year and there is such a limited amount of time to get everything in that's possible to manage. I knew that I had  reached my limit at around 3pm on Friday when I saw a friend/co-worker leaving the event for the day with her running clothes on and a huge smile on her face. At that moment I would have given anything to trade her places, as I still had another event  that evening before I could call it a week well done. Seeing her and thinking of running made me long inside to be doing the same! I realized that above all else, that is my ultimate stress reliever and I couldn't wait for the next opportunity I would have to run my little heart out!

So I started thinking about what makes running such a great stress reliever and mental health "balancer" for me. Believe me, it's not because I can win any races, cause I'm quite slow -- but I think it's the all around experience. I have a certain route that I run (and also bike) that is near our house. We are out in the country, so it's pretty quiet for the most part and a lot of my route is completely shaded by trees. There is one area that I love where I pass by a large wheat field. Since it's usually in the evening, the sun is setting and the golden cast is just beautiful. Amusingly, it always reminds me of the part in "Forrest Gump" when he is running across the country! And that's the experience that I long for -- it's soothing and calming and my mind aches for it when things are hectic.

It's important for me to remember that I have to take care of my own mental health in order to be able to take care of my family's mental health needs too. Not only do I exercise, but I take my prescribed medications everyday, and pay close attention to how different foods affect me emotionally too. An excess of sugars can make me anxious, overeating causes lethargy, too little food makes me irritable and moody. Our daily diets are not just fuel for our bodies, but our minds also. That awareness is something I try to pass on to our children too -- helping them pay attention to how they feel when they have had too much of something or not enough of others, including sleep.

Why do I advocate for children's mental health instead of adult mental health? Simply because raising a new generation to understand the importance of mental health and the medical nature of it changes all of our futures. If I can convince adults along the way, then it's a two for one bargain! Now, I'm heading out for another stroll through the country to work on me.

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