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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Physician, Heal Thyself (A blog on Mental Health Management)



Phew, what an interesting week. I got a chance to go to three U.S. States (New York, Pennsylvania, and Iowa) and one Canadian Province (Ontario) to speak about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention. 

The overall response I got in all of these places was just tremendous and helping and healing were some of the by-products of being able to speak to the communities I visited. But there was one person I forgot to help while traveling those 3,100 miles this week, and that was myself. 

While I generally shy away diary-type blog posts, talking about this is supremely important because if am someone who goes around stressing the need to talk openly and honestly about mental health, I should be someone who does the same thing and so here are some things I learned about my mental health management this week. Hopefully you’ll be able to glean something useful from this for your own mental health management.

Scheduling: 
Just because someone asks you to go somewhere or do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. In my want to please everyone and to take on the world, I realized I need to take care of myself first and foremost. I can’t schedule in so much work without scheduling in exercise, down time, and friend time and not expect to feel burnt out. If I can help someone and it fits in with how I’m feeling and what I need for my mental health, great, but if not then perhaps we can schedule it for another week.

Learning what I can handle: 
Going forward, I will never schedule four speaking appearances in a single week. I love doing what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but there is a point where doing too much becomes a flirtation with burnout. And burnout causes me (and I’m sure others) to resent the thing that they love in addition to exhaustion and making bad choices—all things I’d rather stay away from.

Think (more) before you act:
If I’m flirting with burnout, which I certainly have been this week, I need to avoid making big decisions. Wait and think things through before making a rash or what could be a semi-destructive choice. Let your exhaustion subside and continue to hash things out and speak to your personal advisers and friends before taking action on something important.

Smile for no reason:
Is this one pretty lame? Maybe. But this one came to me as I was writing this post. After scheduling the important pieces of what makes me mentally healthy, a good smile is a wonderful reminder to your frown that “this too shall pass,” and we always have choices whether we can see them presently or not.

I hope any or all of that was useful and it’s something you can take with you in your day or the weeks to come. And stay tuned...because refreshed-Josh is coming back and will have more fun, funny (hopefully), and useful posts very soon.

PS. the title photo is from: http://www.mooddisorderscanada.ca/page/elephant-in-the-room-campaign; a Canadian organization doing great work, that I learned a bit about while up North this week. Check' em out!

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