A word on wellness:
I'll be honest, sometimes I reeeeeeally don't know what to write about in this newsletter, ha. Occasionally I'll get right up against the deadline (self imposed, yes. but we must hold ourselves accountable!) and have to brainstorm and spend some time coming up with content. This month was different, it was one of those times where the same theme and issue came up in many conversations with friends and clients, and I knew what I would write about weeks in advance. After the third time I thought - oh man, this is definitely a thing, and I should probably put it out there in my next newsletter. So here we are.
What's been coming up over and over is essentially an idea about "achieving" mental and emotional wellness. Let me expand on that. It's this idea that there is a perfectly "balanced" way to live life. We hear that word a lot, right? And for good reason, balance in life is important. But, I've noticed this funny thing that's happening. The effort to achieve this balance seems to be causing more anxiety in people. It's like, "ok, I have a job that pays well, but is it okay if I'm not suuuuper passionate about it? And I run regularly, but am I doing it right if I'm not also doing yoga? And I don't really have any hobbies. Maybe if I start making candles from home that will round out the "creative outlet" part of the balanced pie chart... gotta get meditation in there somehow too"... and on and on. I don't know if any of you can relate to this and I don't mean to minimize the benefits of taking care of ourselves in these myriad of ways. I'm a therapist for goodness sake! It just seems to me that there is an invisible pressure (as if we need more pressure) to succeed at self-care and balance on top of the pressure to succeed at absolutely everything else. I have probably perpetuated this myself by posting about these topics. No doubt some people read those posts and became more anxious or self-critical. It can be easy to read about self-care or hear other people talk about it and start "should-ing" ourselves - or rolling our eyes. "I should be making time to exercise or Ishould be reading before bed." It's almost impossible to prioritize time for activities that are good for us if we are constantly being critical. Self-criticism reinforces the idea that we don't deserve it.
My hope is that you can try not to let balance and self-care become one more thing that you measure yourself up against and hold over your head. Balance is a quest. We don't arrive there and go "oh phew, now I'm balanced for the rest of my life." There will always be backsliding and room to re-evaluate. Remember this when you think someone else has it all figured out, or when you realize you're not where you want to be. We are all unique, and what works for others may not work for you. Yes, it is okay if you hate yoga and can't imagine knitting, these are not requirements for being happy. Be easy on yourself, find what works for you and let this newsletter serve as a reminder: YOU ARE DOING GREAT.
Something to Watch:
Worth re-watching as we prepare for the 8th: Michelle Obama's speech from last month.
Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Between the World and Me" - My goodness. As someone with a degree in Literature, I am tempted to write a full page review of this book and Coates's other book "The Beautiful Struggle" which I read earlier this summer. This newsletter is not the place, so feel free to click above for the Time's review. What I will say is that Coates writes, in poetic prose, a letter to his son (which is both heartbreaking and undeniably straightforward) about the risks associated with being a black male in America. The entire read I couldn't stop thinking - this needs to be required reading in school!
Wellness Tip of the Week:
Mindfulness while brushing our teeth via The New York Times
Apply the toothpaste to your toothbrush.
Begin to brush. Breathe through your nose, slowly and deliberately.
Relax your neck and jaw.
Loosen your grip on the toothbrush. Feel the bristles moving over your teeth and the gums.
Taste the toothpaste.
As you rinse, breathe deeply through your nose. Notice your clean teeth.
Feel gratitude for your teeth and all that they allow you to do — chewing, smiling, speaking.