Self Care Series, Part 5: Jeff sweats the small stuff

My self-care routine includes many of the same elements outlined by my co-workers here at NMOST: regular exercise, time spent outdoors, making the time to pursue enjoyable activities like cooking, gardening, and reading good books, and spending quality time with family and, as pandemic circumstances allow, with friends.

It’s also critical to my health and wellbeing to take particular notice of the many gifts that life presents to my senses on a daily basis. Taking intentional notice of the smell of piñon smoke or roasting green chile, feeling the way the breeze moves the hair on my arms, soaking in the warmth of the sun on my back while I’m pulling weeds, or noticing the special quality of the light on a New Mexico evening helps to ground me in my own body and keep me aware of what’s best about being alive. They say the devil is in the details, but I think the spirit lives in this other collection of sensory minutiae. If I forget to appreciate the small, good things of daily life, I quickly notice a growing distance between my mind and body and that disconnect becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

Lastly, it has been important for me to get help when I’ve needed it. I’ve struggled periodically with depression since the third grade. These days, I’m fine on a day-to-day basis, but I’m always aware of depression lurking like a wolf at the edge of the firelight. I’ve learned how to keep the fire stoked and maintain a stockpile of dry fuel at hand, but at one time in my life I needed help to break negative patterns and build a repertoire of self-sustaining techniques. It wasn’t easy to acknowledge that I needed help, but just taking that first step was a relief, knowing that I wasn’t alone in my fight to feel better.

The pandemic has been very, very hard on everyone and many people are struggling to stay afloat. If you are one of them or if a friend or family member is in a dark place, I strongly encourage you to reach out for help. One option is to call the New Mexico Department of Health’s New Mexico Crisis and Access Line: 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474). Description: A statewide mental health crisis line for anyone who resides in the State of New Mexico.  It is a centralized, single telephone number, answered by professional counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Counselors have access to emergency workers if needed, are trained in assessing a crisis and responding with the least restrictive alternative. We do not stop at the end of the call, our clinicians refer callers to resources local to them or conduct a follow up call by the next business day to check in.

Everyone needs help sometimes. Please don’t be afraid to ask for it.