Let’s talk about a fresh mindset. This does not mean completely wiping away everything we once knew, but instead using everything we’ve known, and been through so far, as a compass to guide us as we move forward. Through my blogs, and therapy support, I help my clients with the “fresh” part. The fresh mindset, is created by making slight shifts to your daily life, in the form of thoughts or behaviors that can help you to stay grounded in your values- because as we know, living in close proximity to our values, has a direct correlation to happiness.
Values. Why are values talked about so often? To me, values are the activities we spend most of our time engaging in. Being able to manage our time toward our most cherished values, should ultimately enhance our overall wellness and quality of life. Our cherished values can be a variety of things, including: being outside in nature, volunteer/community service, spending time with family or friends, physical fitness/exercise, parenting, traveling, dedicating time to religion/spirituality, mental health practices such as mindfulness/meditation/therapy, romantic relationships, career focus, etc. The goal is to come up with a list of your top values, that includes some healthy variety. This includes having various people we engage in health relationships/friendships with, places to see and explore, and new situations to navigate. For optimal mental health, the more opportunities we create for our brains to be actively engaged in the present moment, the better.
What is a practical way to implement my values in my life?
Glad you asked!
Here we will be using the example of a 7-day week, which is 168 hours, Monday through Sunday. Using the example of a hypothetical person can help us to understand how to put these skills into place.
Let’s say, hypothetical person, Jane, listed her top 5 values (being as specific as possible), as the following:
1) 4 hours of physical fitness per week
2) Spending time with family without devices/screens, at least 3 days per week for 2 hours
3) Work- spending 40 hours per week at Job #1, and10 hours a week on my start up, Job #2.
4) Meditate for 30 min per week, one time per week at meditation class
5) Being outside for at least 30 minutes doing any activity, at least once per week (i.e.: reading, walking, sitting in the sun, bird watching, etc.)
Color- coded, Jane's schedule would look something like this:
Before Jane knew it, like many of us, she started to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and unhappy. Jane, knowing herself quite well, started to realize her signs of burn-out. She had been more irritable with her family members, was forgetting to eat lunch and sometimes even dinner. She was constantly exhausted, with a relentless headache. Luckily, she knew what she had to do. Jane sat down and fearlessly wrote down the schedule she had actually been keeping, color-coding her hourly activities to match what she was really doing with her time each day. Jane realized that her schedule looked more like this:
You might be asking yourself, “but doesn’t this show Jane’s great work ethic by doubling her working goal/values?” This is the hardest fact for workaholics, like Jane, to understand. The honest answer is, no. Jane identified that physical health was the #1 part of the formula for what keeps herself physically & mentally healthy, however we are not seeing even one hour of exercise in her schedule, as well as a cycle of sleep deprivation. At least 7 hours of sleep per night is needed for most adults (11-14 hours for toddlers, 9-11 for school aged children, and 8-10 for teens). Human brains are not able to focus or attend at optimum efficiency without breaks for more than 20- 30 minutes at a time. Give yourself the brain breaks you require. Twenty to thirty minutes of sustained exercise (as recommended by your physician) can produce to up to 18 hours of endorphins! Don't underestimate the power of movement and it's positive impact on your productivity.
Pro tip: Ask yourself, “What am I doing for my MENTAL HEALTH today?” If the answer is "nothing" most of the time, this is a surefire recipe for burn out. Whether you decide to color-code your calendar or not, you can start out with the simple awareness and acknowledgement of what burnout feels like, or looks like, for you. Notice when it may be time to force yourself to add variety to your day. Make sure that your schedule is “sprinkled” with breaks and VARIETY, because even though your brain may want to keep working for hours upon hours, after reading this, you know better.