Ways to Take Care of that Brain
In my last post I shared some ways to distract yourself from some of the chaos of 2020. While taking a minute to distract yourself from reality isn’t a long-term solution, it can certainly be helpful. This week I want to share some of the resources that I use to get tools to deal with the trauma of what is going on in a healthy way. Before you give me shit, yes, I do believe that we are all suffering from a collective trauma. Over 210,000 humans in the USA have died from an illness our own federal government lied to us about, that is traumatic. We have all been in various forms of lockdown for almost 7 months, that is traumatic. We haven’t been able to freely see friends or family, that can be traumatic. Let us just call it what it is and try to support each other.
As an introvert I wasn’t heavily affected by lockdown until it started to hurt my business. Once that boulder started downhill, I noticed my mental health begin to suffer and I was using unhealthy coping mechanisms. After a particularly down day I decided that I needed to review my therapy work and dig into ways to cope in a healthy, helpful way. I am going to share some of my favorite free resources for mental health tools.
Before I get to the professionals, I want to share my top three ways to try to turn around a bad day or increase my serotonin. Number one: Make and keep to a morning routine. Even on bad days if I manage to get through my morning routine it gives me a boost of happy brain chemicals that can push me into the next phase of the day. Number two: Watch/Listen/Read things that inspire the mood you want to be in, not the mood you are currently in. This is where The Office comes in handy, or a comedy special, something to make you laugh or smile. The simple act of laughing (real or fake) releases happy chemicals into your brain helping to lift your mood. Number three: Take a break. Refer to my last blog post for this one. Sometimes a break from a stressful workday, 24-hour new cycle, or family drama can help us to reset. This one is along the lines of self-care; you have to make sure to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
My current go to resources are podcasts. Some of the hosts have other resources that I will mention but I have not tried them out yet, and some are not free though they are semi affordable. Proceed with caution and common sense.
The Angry Therapist – John Kim is a therapist and life coach that focuses mainly on relationships. His podcast is amazing, he fits a lot of information into approximately 15-minute episodes. The length of his pod episodes makes it more digestible and less intimidating to those who may be unfamiliar with self-help. He has also written a few books: A No BS Guide to Finding and Living Your Own Truth, I Used to be a Miserable Fuck, and the one coming out in 2021 is titled Single on Purpose, all of which are high on my must read list. He has also brought together a dream team of life coaches to launch his life coaching service called the TAT Lab. It is a more affordable way to manage some of the baggage we have accumulated. Even just following his Instagram account makes me feel better. Find out more or join one of his services at: www.theangrytherapist.com
Unlocking Us – Brene freaking Brown is here to make you feel less out of control. I have to admit that I only discovered this woman last year, but holy moly is she awesome. Her podcast episodes are closer to an hour in length, and so interesting and relatable. She digs into some of the harder feelings we have like grief and gives us ways to handle it while making sure we know that whatever we are feeling is okay. She has also written lots of books about various topics. The ones I really want to read are: Women and Shame, Braving the Wilderness, and The Power of Vulnerability. My favorite is truly how she makes sure we know that while she knows a lot about how to manage emotions, even she feels overwhelmed and sad sometimes. It is nice to know we aren’t alone. Find out more at: www.brenebrown.com
Kat & Moose Podcast – I just discovered this podcast and I love it. The hosts are normal women from Nashville working through their traumas and insecurities in therapy and then sharing some of it with us. Largely it is two women talking through the shit in a way that will make you laugh and feel like they are your buddies. There is a tinge of religion mixed in, but not in a way that turns off those of us who may not be a part of that community. I just love the chemistry they have and how fun and informative the conversations are. To listen or learn more go to: www.katandmoosepodcast.com
Armchair Expert: This podcast isn’t exclusively therapeutic or self-help, but it has opened my eyes a lot. Firstly, Dax Shepard is a male that is comfortable talking about his feelings and expressing emotions which was very new to me. He and his awesome co-host, Monica Padman, have helped me learn to be more honest and open about things I was taught were not to be talked about. It is also just wonderfully entertaining. Most of his interviews dig into how people’s past experiences helped shape who they are today, and he interviews all kinds of people. Most of the interviews, especially pre-COVID, are closer to two hours long, but they keep you hooked so you won’t get bored. I scrolled through all the episodes and pulled the ones that deal heavily in mental health for those who don’t want to listen to all of the episodes. From oldest to newest: EP #20 Wendy Mogel, EP #48 Dr. Drew, EP #50 Brene Brown, EP #61 Jonathan Haidt, EP #82 John Gottman, EP #90 John Kim, EP #96 Michael Gervais, EP #100 Esther Perel, EP #114 Dr. Alex Katehakis, EP #130 Tal Ben-Shahar, EP #146 Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, EP #162 Adam Grant, EP #164 Malcolm Gladwell, EP #188 Peggy Orenstein, EP #191 BJ Fogg, EP #200 Lydia Denworth, EP #209 Jessica Lahey, EP #211 Glennon Doyle, EP #219 Laurie Santos, EP #232 Nina Vasan, EP #235 Jud Brewer, EP #241 Angela Duckworth
Find out more about Dax, Monica and the podcast guests at: www.armchairexpertpod.com
I hope that something here is helpful to someone. While therapy and mental health is still a taboo subject, we must talk about it. I have watched too many people live unhappy lives because they were taught that therapy or getting a life coach was for weak, or damaged people. Our lives are full of easy, unhealthy ways to cope with stress and adversity but there are better options out there. We must end the stigma that surrounds mental illness so that we can all gain access to happiness.
Let us make American (and the world) kind again.