5 Ways To Prevent Mental Funks

Why is being productive all the time a measure of our value?

This is Celeste Headlee, journalist, author, speaker, musician, and my new favorite person to keep tabs on. Why? Because she joins me in my lifelong persuasion that work is (most of the time) the enemy.


“We live in a culture where it’s hard to feel free and joyful when we’re not being productive. Who is to blame for the compulsion to work 24/7? We don’t know how to be at home without working because we’ve gotten rid of the hobbies that previous generations had. No one stamp collects anymore or polishes rocks.”


Goooooood morning, everyone.

I’m taking a break from the interview series and am giving you some research-backed ways to prevent (or get rid of) your mental ruts.

If you’re as sick of Winter as I am, I think you’ll find today’s post helpful. Because while mental funks can happen anytime, they’re especially prevalent in the winter months, when we’re trapped in an onslaught of darkness, frigid temps, and angry boredom.

To Preface!

In a recent Goop podcast, Does Time Equal Money? Celeste Headlee sells us on taking time off, making the argument that play, belonging and community are universal longings that all human beings need to be healthy. And in case you didn’t notice, none of those involve work.

In the episode she asks questions like, “How do we feel free and joyful?” and “What is the best way for you to be productive?” making THIS bold claim about work…

“If it’s a true expression of who you are and your gifts, then yes, I think you can absolutely love what you do for work. But is it what gives life meaning? No. I don’t think so.”

I love this woman.

Here are 5 science-backed ways to prevent mental breakdowns

Healthy lifestyle habits can work wonders in preventing nervous breakdowns and other stress-induced meltdowns. The thing with mental health is, we haven’t fully grasped the fact that we must work at keeping our mental health spirits up daily, just like we do with exercising and eating right. The key is GETTING AHEAD of the mental blocks before they consume you. You can do eet!

  1. Using natural forms of therapy like yoga and meditation. It doesn’t have to be yoga or meditation. It’s whatever your version of therapy is. My therapy is a combination of indoor cycling + positive affirmations + reading suspense novels.

  2. Not overdoing it on social media. Guys. We know by now that social media becomes toxic when we’re on it too much. Being mindful and having self-control around our obsessive impulse to reach for our phones is a much nicer way to live — notification anxiety isn’t worth the inevitable letdown that your photo only got 9 likes.

  3. Knowing your mental funk triggers. For me, my mental funk triggers are the prolonging of Winter, feeling unsupported in my work, putting my marriage on the back burner, and not being in consistent contact with my family and friends. How to overcome these? Go on a trip somewhere warm (or at least book a staycation), make sure I’m communicating with people in my industry often, make an effort to be nice to my husband instead of rolling my eyes at his sweaty workout clothes on the bathroom floor, and prioritize phone calls and visits with the people I love and care about most.

  4. Having things to look forward to. I thrive on routine. Most people do. Planning daily, weekly, and monthly things to look forward to is KEY in feeling happy with your life. Examples: Daily = making progress on my book. Weekly = Tuesday night TV show or meetup with a friend. Monthly = weekend getaway to a neighboring city. I am a FIRM believer also of seasonal resets — aka planning trips with friends, family, your partner, and/or solo. No excuses. These things have to be prioritized to live the good life.

  5. Being flexible with your expectations. “Being obsessed with perfection may lead to a mental breakdown,” according to Trudi Griffith, a licensed counselor in addiction and mental health. How to cope? Learn to take the pressure off yourself by practicing self-compassion, taking things one day at a time, and keeping in mind there is always room for improvement. There is no final destination of success or happiness or the perfect ass. We’re constantly working, improving and evolving.

Takeaway

Life is too short for excuses to not take that trip or not get out of your comfort zone. It’s also too short to not laugh every day, or dress how you want to, or eat the damn chocolate cupcake if you want it! You’re in control of how your day is going to pan out. Be mindful of this and try to take life a leetle bit less seriously.

Let me know how it shakes out.

In case you missed it…

Yesterday I talked about how to deal with too much alone time (aka “aloneliness”), simple ways to find meaning in your life, and more, in Feeling Lonely? Here’s How To Deal.

And last week I spoke with a wellness coach on how she thrives with anxiety.

Thank you for reading today.

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PS! What do you want to read about next? What are you struggling with? What are you succeeding in? What’s something you wish someone talked about BUT NO ONE IS? I want to knooowwww. Hit reply to this email and I’ll write about it in an upcoming issue.


Be you.

Xo,

Ashley

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*These mental health tips are for educational purposes only, and are not meant to treat or diagnose any mental health symptoms or disorders.