Sustaining Ourselves: What Keeps Us Going
The Colorado Spirit Team at AllHealth Network has been reflecting about how none of us expected to still be doing this work around pandemic related stress for this long. In hindsight, it seems silly, but when we all took these roles with this team, we expected to be done with this work (and the pandemic) far before now. As we chatted about this, we had an idea to share with you some of the things each of our team members are finding helpful to sustaining our efforts during the continued stress we are all facing.
We hope one or two of these strategies might resonate with you:
One thing that is sustaining me right now is…mindfulness. Instead of thinking of all the things I have to do this holiday season or about the goals I need to set for myself next year, I breathe and try to stay present in the moment. It reminds me that the rest can wait and what matters is the here and now.
I have two labels on my laptop as reminders: “Be still and listen.” and “Slow down and breathe.”
I sustain my mental health by striving for good balance and diversity in my daily activities. With the pandemic, and winter starting to set in, it is quite easy to give in to individual behaviors or entertainment like binge watching Netflix or spending too much time on one project. By intentionally switching up my routines each day, I have found my life to be more interesting, productive and I am much happier.
One thing I have started doing that I was really good about in the beginning of the pandemic but have since let lag, is to make sure I get at least 30 minutes of movement during the work day, either with a walk or hitting tennis balls or even a short in-home workout. This provides a brief “get away” from work to clear my head, and I get fresh air and exercise. I find my focus is improved as well.
I’ve been finding and planning out things so I have something to look forward to whether it is dinner or lunch with a friend, finding a fun holiday event to attend, going to an art gallery or museum (of course following guidelines that are in place) or planning a day to see family – making sure there is something to break up the monotony of day-to-day stuff has helped me immensely!
Giving myself a couple of moments throughout the day to sit in silence with no screens. It’s not necessarily meditating. But I just see what thoughts come to mind – sometimes it’s something I realize I forgot to do, but other times it’s something that makes me happy, it just depends. I’ve found it’s helped me clear my head and allows me to feel a little more focused and present afterwards.
I continue to have small rituals such as always having a hot beverage in the morning, or lighting a candle before beginning work. I have been working on journaling, as well as attending yoga frequently.
One thing that is sustaining me right now is connection with family and friends. My love language is quality time, so I have started inviting others to do some of my self-care activities with me. Including others in my self-care activities has helped me feel closer to them. I have asked friends to go on walks outside with me, and I have also introduced some gratitude exercises to my family.
I enjoy taking my dog on bike rides. It is a task that requires engagement and allows me to drown out other things in my head. Handling the bike takes my attention away from phone distractions unless I stop. Maneuvering obstacles keeps me in the moment and focused on what is in front of me now. The views are incredible; biking lets you absorb the environment slower than you would in a vehicle. If I spot something that looks amazing, I can stop to observe whatever it is. Lastly is the sense of accomplishment at the end of my bike ride.
What I’ve been doing lately to help me sustain is prioritizing a nighttime routine just as much as a morning routine. Read at least 20 pages, eat fruit, no phone in bed, meditate/stretch/breathe, skincare, and drink water.
We hope that you are each finding time and space to connect with people and practices that are meaningful and supportive to you. As much as we enjoyed sharing these perspectives with you, we have each been challenged to implement these regularly and have had our share of emotional ups and downs. This is not easy stuff! If this is feeling challenging right now, please know you are not alone and that the Colorado Spirit Team is here to be a resource. Please reach out.
To continue with our icy road analogy, if you feel like you are spinning out of control on that “ice,” let the Colorado Spirit team help you find ways to correct your vehicle and get you back on the road of life. If speaking to someone would help, please reach out. AllHealth Network provides several supports.
- To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our webpage at allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit
- For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call 303-730-8858. AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-8255 (TALK) or text TALK to 38255.
How do you know if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis? Click here to learn about mental health crisis warning signs to look out for from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
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