The Blue Glacier and Mt. Olympus

May 22, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Today I wanted to take a minute to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month and share one of my favorite mental health resources. 

Before I share one of my favorite resources for mental health and meditation, I want to take a minute to talk about the stigma that is "mental health."  For many years I thought "mental health" was only for people who had diagnosed conditions like depression.   But in reality, mental health is no different than physical health. So, just like we work out to maintain our physical health, it's important to take time to also work on your mental health.

I didn't recognize the importance of mental health until I had some physical health issues back in late 2017 and 2018.  I was experiencing a series of very odd physical symptoms, and the doctors initially thought it was cancer or an autoimmune disease.  However, all of my tests came back negative.  The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.  This caused me to start losing weight, having trouble sleeping, and being unable to stop these ruminating thought patterns where I was sure I was dying, and the doctors were all wrong.  This is when I first turned to mediation and an app called Insight Timer to help me.  At the time, I used meditation primarily to help me sleep, but I was far from having a regular meditation practice.

By 2019 I was feeling much healthier, and I slowly but surely fell out of the habit of meditating. But, unfortunately, I was still only associating meditating and mental health as something you needed when there was something wrong.

Bring on 2020, and we all know how 2020 was.  You'd think that a global pandemic would have caused me to get back to meditating, but in some weird way, I never found myself getting that depressed.  Despite not getting to do as much as I would normally do, I still had a job, and without as many adventures to go on, I focused on my job and advancing my career instead.  However, by the end of the year, I was starting to slip into a funk.  The pandemic was ongoing, the holidays weren't the same, and it appeared it would worsen before it got better.  So I took a few days off at the end of the year and spent them all in nature.  Nature has always been my therapy, and after a few days of just hiking all day, I felt better.  During my hikes, I thought about meditating and sat down by the river to open up my Insight Tier App and do a meditation for the first time in months.  

Insight Timer was advertising a 30-day mindful morning mediation challenge.  It was basically 30 days of doing a new and different guided meditation every morning.  At first, I just wanted to make it the 30 days.  I've never meditated for 30 days consecutively before.  The great thing was, I started noticing a change in those 30 days.  I was starting the day grounded and found myself living with more intention.  In return for living in the moment, I was more present and noticed opportunities around me I hadn't seen before.  I found I could not just focus on my career or personal life, but I could balance all my goals and focus on them all.

Today was my 142nd straight day of meditating since January 1, 2021, and I don't see myself stopping any time soon.  It's now part of my morning routine.  I don't just meditate to deal with the tough times anymore, but I meditate to stay grounded every day and, in turn, create great times.  I've planned 2 trips to places I've always wanted to see for this year with this focus. In addition, I maintained my work and personal goals and am in line to finally earn that promotion I've been working on. Finally, I've redesigned this website and taken several photography tutorials to improve my skills in that area.  While I still have plenty of goals I'm working on, I now know the role maintaining my mental health will play in accomplishing them.

If you'd like to try mediation and see if it can have the same impact on your life, I highly recommend the app Insight Timer.  It's the #1 free meditation app around, and if you subscribe to their paid service, you get a lot of additional resources.  

Here's their website if you'd like more info,