This post is a bit more personal for me than some of our other recent posts.
While it's no surprise that being more mindful has been difficult for Angela and I, I've found that I've been actively taking steps to be more in-touch with my surroundings and mental state without even realizing it.
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Our mental states can depend so heavily on the people we surround ourselves with, the conversations we have, and what we let in.
So, when work or life is stressful, it's time to take an audit of your environment and rid yourself of what doesn't serve you.
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I've been told more than once, in my personal AND professional life, that I "care more than most people" and, if I'm being honest, that has been a badge of honor for me.
Of course I care. I want to succeed, I want my clients to succeed, and I want my team to succeed.
Outside of work, this mentality doesn't shift either.
I want to be there for my friends when they need a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, and to be their personal cheerleader when they get a new job or promotion.
I've even been known to set reminders in my phone to wish, "Happy first day of your new job!" or "Hey, I know yesterday was rough for you... how are you feeling today?" texts.
And this strong sense of caring for others and their success and happiness is a part of my identity but it becomes too much when my own personal life needs some care and attention.
So, what have I done to take care of myself and not lose part of my identity?
Audit my social media channels
For the last few months, I've consciously made an effort to unfollow or remove people on my social feeds who tend to post negativity or, on the flip side, over-the-top boastful updates.
As mentioned above, of course I want to help celebrate the good times and be there for others bad times, but it was important for me to ensure that I'm spending that energy for those who would spend it back for me.
For those I'm connected with online and in real-life, that's one thing.
For those that I haven't talked to since high school or met at a party once in college, I'm going to take a second look things.
I've found that if there are connections of mine that I haven't spoken to in years and who are posting things that don't bring me joy, unfollowing or unfriending them hasn't had a negative impact on my day to day. It has been the opposite.
It's easy enough to compare our journey and our success to our friends and coworkers, so why subject ourselves to it on social platforms that are meant to bring us closer?
If you find yourself rolling your eyes when scrolling through your Facebook News Feed, I'd like to challenge you to stop, really consider that connection, and decide if being connected brings you joy or if it triggers you.
If it doesn't bring you joy, hit that unfollow or unfriend and move on with your life.
Be honest with loved ones
One of the best things I've done with my best friend is to put a process in place for when we need to unload a big dose of negativity or stress on the other.
Before rapidly texting the other person with an, "OMG. Everything sucks" message followed by a novel of why the day or week is terrible, we ask if the other person has the mental capacity to take in the burden.
Because let's be serious -- when someone unloads on you, it is a burden you carry. You want to help and be there and provide advice but it can be hard if you're already maxed out in your own life.
And there have been times where her or I say, "I can't right now but can I get back to you tomorrow on this?" and it's okay.
We're not mad that the other can't handle it. We're glad that we can both be in a productive and positive space rather than wallowing in anger or frustration.
If you and your friend(s) are experiencing the 'emotional dump' texts, try having the conversation and putting your own process in place.
Believe me, it'll make a world of difference when it comes to your mental state.
Politely excusing yourself from conversations
This one is much, much easier said than done, but it's another way that I've maintained my own positive mental state when everything around me is a fire.
I've started engaging less in conversations that perpetuate negativity -- whether it's related to the workplace, my friend group, or even family drama.
Now, this doesn't mean that you can be rude and say, "I'm not going to be a part of this" (although you could) but you can simply say, "Yeah, I can see why that would be frustrating. I'm sorry that's happening."
A response like that shows that you do care but it doesn't open the door for the negativity to go on and on.
Because when the negativity goes on for longer, you start getting more and more invested. It can consume you or, arguably worse, it can change your opinion on people that have never done anything wrong to you.
By showing that you want to be there for the person but not joining in and saying, "OMG. That SUCKS. Why is Person X doing that? Do you think they hate you?" helps not only you keep a better head space but helps get them out of their negative space sooner.
Put yourself first
When all is said and done, this is about putting yourself first.
Identify what triggers you in your life, whether it's your social media friends or the conversations you're having, and remove that from your life. You don't need to take on someone else's stress and burdens unless you choose to.
You have the power to create the environment that brings you joy and sanity.
Have you started to put any of the tips we've shared into practice? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We'd love to hear your journey and share your story with others!
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