Moving and My Mental Health

A few years ago, I said to my husband Richard, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a type of counseling center that has regular counseling, all the helpful therapy support, along with nutrition, yoga, and other tools for healing?” He agreed it would be a great idea, and we said… “one day.”

Well that one day is here! We are so thrilled to follow the path that we believe has been so clearly laid out for us. We are going to be working together at a holistic counseling and wellness center in East Texas, called Living Well Tyler.

Tyler is a place that contains sad memories for me, but it is also filled with memories of so much hope and redemption. I first moved there at nine years old, fresh from the Bay Area of California, and six months later I witnessed the death of my grandfather on my front lawn. I spent my mentally tumultuous teen years in Tyler, but I also met my best friends there. I graduated college there. My first child was born there. I went on my first date with my husband there. Almost two decades after leaving, It feels special and fitting to be able to move our family there at this time.

This verse was read during a contemplative prayer session with the soul care director at Living Well a couple months ago, and it has been such a source of comfort as I process this transition:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:16-19‬

Any kind of change – even good change – is a trigger for my mental health. The unknown, the “what ifs,” can heighten worry and anxiety.

Because we move in just one month, I have no choice but to stay vigilant. I make an extra effort to limit food that triggers moodiness or anxiety, and I nourish myself with what I put into my mind.

When the flicker of panic creeps into my head, I breathe. I tell myself, “God’s not worried, so I don’t need to worry.” I set my mind on what is directly in front of me, not what will happen next week or next month. I ask myself, “what can I do for myself today to minimize my stress?”

I give myself grace. I exercise gently at a lower intensity. I make sure I eat enough food. I go to bed early. I share my worries with trusted friends in my circle.

But mostly, I remember to breathe.

Change is coming. I am ready to start this new chapter with my family, but I am approaching this new season grounded in reality and armed with my favorite mental health management tools.

What I’m nourishing myself with right now:

  • Consistent sleep schedule – I try to keep the same bedtime and wake time. Pretty simple, but it makes a huge impact on my mood and energy.
  • Margin to slow down – I’m opening up my schedule during the day, pressing pause on podcast recordings and clients, not adding any new commitments unless it involves quality time for myself, family, or friends.
  • Nourishing my body with simple meals, packed with veggies. We are eating out more than usual, so I’m making sure my choices are ones that will make help me sleep better at night and feel energized the next day. I load up on protein and veggies as much as possible. For my unique body’s needs, I’m not consuming gluten, minimizing dairy (maybe I’ll have cheese once a week or so, especially if a charcuterie board pops up), limiting sugar, and only drinking alcoholic beverages my body can tolerate well. For me, that means seltzers and hard kombuchas and maybe some wine here and there. I don’t sleep well when I drink a glass or two of wine, and beer tears up my stomach. Everyone’s food triggers are different, so I’m listening to my body as much as possible.
  • Cycle-syncing my exercise – I track my menstrual cycle with the MyFLO app, and during my follicular and ovulatory phase I do more intense exercises like HIIT and running. Once I hit the luteal phase, to minimize stress on my body, I back off the cardio and choose light walking, slow strength training, and yoga.
  • Flooding my brain with gratitude – I’m flexing my gratitude muscle as much as I can. I’m journaling, I’m speaking my thankfulness out loud when I’m alone in the car or on a walk, and I’m sharing my gratitude with my family. This rewires my brain, keeps me alert for the positive, and allows me to keep my negativity in check. It comes with time and practice, but I do believe it is a magical healing tool for my entire body’s response to stress.

Most of the items above are ways I try to manage my stress on a regular basis anyway, but I amp it up EXTRA during seasons when I know I will be more stressed and prone to naturally heightened emotions than usual.

Seasons of change are normal, and often these seasons bring anxiety, panic, and loss. But when I try to press on, suppressing the unpleasant feelings, I make things worse for myself and everyone around me.

Being intentional and proactive with my self-care and nourishment gives me permission to feel my full range of feelings – because feelings are part of the human experience. While the process of moving is an added stressor, I want to stay grounded and hopeful for what is to come!

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