I digress this week to a more pressing matter of mental health… If this is not your jam, no worries, catch you next week!
This past week I’ve been having many more conversations with myself in my head than I’ve had in a while.
Please don’t tell me I’m the only one that talks to myself!
So, what’s changed?
It’s fire season here in Northern CA, and it’s REALLY BAD here. We have fires surrounding the outskirts of our city. The drought has made some ripe fire conditions and this fire season is the perfect firestorm.
The good news is our home is not in danger.
The bad news is our health is.
For the past 7 days, I feel like I’m living in the future or a war-torn smoky country because after I wake up I have to look at PurpleAir.com on my phone to see the PM rating for the air quality in my area.
Because of the air quality, I haven’t been able to do one of my many hikes for over a week now. The PMs have been off the charts 400 – 500+. That’s hazardous.
Check out the screenshot below from Tuesday, August 17. Later that day we hit 525!
I now do short walks around the block with an N95 mask to take the dogs out for a quick jaunt as their health is also in danger.
Plus, the pandemic is really raging here, and the hospital is almost full.
You might be thinking right about now – “Well what in the heck does any of this have to do with talking to yourself?”
Yesterday, I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole and was stuck in this loop of fear for my health and safety. I was immersing myself in what Psychology Today writer and Clinical Psychologist Larry Stybel calls “Self-Immersion.”
My inner voice (aka self-talk) was full of “I” and “me,” and I was ruminating way too much on my fear of the long-term effects of me breathing this hazardous air (I have asthma.) and not taking much positive action. This could lead to being depressed, which is where I was headed.
And I also learned because my body was used to so much exercise, my serotonin levels were lower, which didn’t help.
Regular exercise boosts the serotonin levels in your brain and boosts your mood and overall sense of well-being.
Then when I came across this interesting article from Psychology Today, based on research done by Psychologist Dr. Ethan Kross, who recommended to consider engaging in self-distancing talk.
You do that by addressing yourself as though you were an objective outsider.
He recommends comparing your situation to similar stressful events that you’ve survived and were able to move on. It’s about projecting yourself into the future so you can put what you’re going through today in context.
I thought that was pretty brilliant.
An example of what I came up with – “Shannon, remember when you moved to CA in July 2018, there was a huge raging fire in the city. There was tons of smoke, and it was pretty dangerous. You were able to survive that. You had your N95 mask and were still able to do your walks. And you went through that whole experience with your spouse.
You guys have a “go bag” with all the essentials you might ever need should you have to be evacuated. You work from home and could scoop the pups at any minute to head to safety. And that fortunately never happened. The fire was eventually put out, and the rainy season came, and all was well. Your mission this week is to focus on what you’re grateful for and to connect with others. Shannon, you got this.”
Interested in discovering more? Check out this article by Larry Stybel’s here where he talks about Dr. Cross’s work.
I met Larry yesterday on LunchClub.com. I’ve been able to connect with all kinds of entrepreneurs from around the U.S. I’d highly recommend it.
Kind of like Match.com for meeting and connecting with other like-minded entrepreneurs, not dating them. 🙂
For now, I know this time, with all the forest fires, will pass. I need to use my new tool of self-distancing, my tool of feeling grateful, and a new one I learned from my therapist today called H.E.A.L.
It stands for – Have, Enhance, Absorb, and Link. It’s about having a happy memory and doing a mini visualization.)
How will you use this tool of self-distancing on whatever you’re facing in your work or your life? Whatever you decide, just know – You got this!