Feeling Stretched Thin? – How to Prioritize Your Mental Health
By Jeanette Lorandini
Everyone has a stressful day occasionally. But, have you noticed that you’re having more stress-filled days than you would like?
Are you feeling stretched so thin that you are reaching a breaking point?
Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with this problem, which can cause not just emotional trouble but physical problems as well.
The answer to being stretched too thin is to prioritize your mental health.
There are many ways that you can do this including lifestyle change as well as formal treatment, such as participating in dialectical behavioral therapy.
Put on the Oxygen Mask
Of course, knowing that you have to prioritize your mental health can make you feel more stressed. Really, it can feel so overwhelming. After all, where do you start when you already have a dozen other responsibilities to fulfill?
To begin, take a step back and think for a moment. Remember how on an airline flight the safety talk always includes putting your oxygen mask on before helping someone else? It’s a powerful metaphor for your current situation.
You’ve probably spent years or even decades helping others and putting their priorities ahead of yours. Where has that left you? It’s time to prioritize your own mental health.
The first step is simply to acknowledge that it has to happen.
Carve Out Time in Your Day
Next, you need to find time to prioritize your mental health, especially when you’re feeling stretched thin. Before you begin to panic, however, consider that there are many ways that you can include positive mental health habits into your day without costing you a ton of time in the process.
Some skills only take a few moments, such as a breathing exercise. Others can take longer, which is helpful for creating space and separation from stress. Both types will be necessary to prioritize your mental health. However, for now, let’s start small and go from there.
Take Short Breaks
One way to promote positive mental health is to take a short break—perhaps no longer than five minutes. During this time, try simple breathing exercises to help you to slow down and get centered again.
This is particularly helpful if you are experiencing a critical level of stress and need to do something now to help you relax. If need be, step out of the room or even the building while you do this so that you can have some private space.
Replace Ineffective Habits
Often people cope with stress and feeling stretched thin through ineffective habits that just don’t work long-term. Addiction issues usually take center stage here, but ineffective habits don’t have to be limited to drug or alcohol abuse.
Using food as a way to cope with stress is one habit. Another is tuning out by watching TV or playing video games. All of these are simply temporary solutions and do not provide lasting change.
Prioritize Your Mental Health by Hacking Your Life
Make small lifestyle changes that promote positive mental health, such as:
- Get at least 8 hours of restful sleep nightly
- Exercise regularly
- Spend time outdoors, such as hiking or gardening
- Read for pleasure
- Be creative
- Choose healthy foods vs. empty calories
- Take walks in nature more often
- Smile and laugh
- Spend time with animals such as a dog or cat
- Practice DBT mindfulness skills
Get Professional Help
Sometimes a little help and support can go a long way to feeling better after being stretched so thin. Participating in therapy is beneficial, including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
In therapy, you will learn new skills that will allow you to better cope with stress. Also, you will have someone with whom you can talk about these issues.
Ready to prioritize your mental health and to live life without the burden of stress? Making simple lifestyle changes will help as well as professional counseling and dialectical behavioral therapy.
Consider making an appointment today with Suffolk DBT to take advantage of DBT therapy on Long Island.
Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.