On Tuesday I wrote a post about the work it takes to get “back to the center”, which for me means finding the right amount of calm and mental balance. It’s a place where I feel as much like myself as I can and where I can be a productive person because I’m present and able to handle the distractions that come with living with mental illness. After writing about the importance of staying calm and centered, I thought it would be good to share some of the techniques people use to return to this state of mental balance so that you can try them out too! Let’s dive in.
Five ways to find mental balance
Confirm what you need to do
For many people, understanding that they are feeling a little uncomfortable before doing anything else is an important step. Avoidance can make mental wellbeing difficult, and being able to differentiate between your thoughts and feelings goes a long way in finding balance. I can’t start finding my balance or doing any work to center myself until I sit with the fact that I am feeling bad. As with any physical illness, you cannot fix something if you do not know what is wrong.
Conscious breathing, or deep breathing as some people also call it, is a fan favorite when it comes to anxiety management. Whether it is the 4-7-8 method, focused breathing, meditative breathing, or one of the many other methods, there are many breathing methods that are aimed at keeping you present and calm. My advice here: try to find a few different methods that will work for you so that you don’t feel dependent on a form of breathing. When you are having a panic attack, an anxiety attack, or a situation where breathing is usually difficult, just one method of breathing puts a lot of pressure on this technique to work perfectly for you and sometimes it can make the situation worse.
Write a diary
I’ve written about journaling before, but this is the first time I’ve thought about it as part of centering. Since my brain is moving way too fast to log consistently (in my expert, non-professional opinion) I’ve never been able to improve on this technique, but I’ve heard stories from friends about how journaling can be a great job planting makes you firm in your present thoughts and feelings. Instead of using your journal as a reflection tool (which can also be helpful in other ways), you can use it to write how you are feeling right now and keep writing until you feel balanced or centered.
Feel your fingers and toes
Feeling your limbs or extremities is usually part of meditation, but for this post I have chosen to focus on this particular technique rather than meditating on it. When you panic or have too much energy you can forget where you are or what you are doing. The wiggling of your fingers and toes might seem silly, but it serves as an important reminder that you are real and here you are. There’s not always something tangible to touch or feel. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Remembering that you are physically present is a good first step towards finding mental balance elsewhere.
Notice what is around you
Rather than delving into a particular coping mechanism (in this case the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique) and leaving it at that, a good first step in grounding ourselves is to notice the things around us . Whether we are in a room with lots of furniture and decorations, or outside in nature, the goal of this technique is to see what is around you and to realize that it is there. It’s a small step to realizing where you are and that you are right now, and you can move on from there. I admit that I have problems with this technique from time to time, but it has also served me very well when I feel like I can’t ground myself at all.
As I wrote earlier in this post, I know these methods may not work for everyone, but trying different techniques is a first step in figuring out what works for us. Finding a few consistent ways to center yourself can really change your outlook on mental wellbeing – at least, I’ve heard that from other people. In the meantime, I hope you can work with me to find out what works for us!
In what ways are you trying to ground yourself or find balance? Have you had any success with any of these methods or do they lead to more frustration? Let me know in the comments!