Hey, multipotentialites. How was your November? We are so appreciative of your participation as we look back at our first Puttylike Mental Health Month!
We’ve been taking the time to explore all the ways we struggle with mental health, as well as all the ways we nourish ourselves and find ways to thrive.
Mental Health Month: A re-cap
We’re proud to have published some great articles and stories this past month, about anxiety and depression, and how to help yourself frame your thoughts around mental health. I want to link them all here, so you can find them back easily in the future:
- When Every Day is the Same, and You’re Waiting on that Dream Trip
- What If There’s Nothing Wrong With You?
- Death Anxiety, for Those Who Die More Than Once
- 5 Super Helpful Mental Health Articles for Multipotentialites (a look back at previous Puttylike content)
- How to Deal When You and Your Partner Are Both Having a Bad Mental Health Day
You may find some of these stories helpful as we move into Slow Down December over in the Puttytribe.
Self-care tips from the multipotentialite community
At the beginning of November, we asked you to share the self-care strategies that have been most helpful to you as a multipotentialite. You all commented with a lot of really excellent ideas, and I want to take a moment in this post to highlight a few themes, or areas of focus, that kept coming up.
As we’ve acknowledged a few times this month, these suggestions and ideas definitely don’t take the place of seeing a helpful mental health professional, which we highly recommend. But maybe thinking about these ideas from other multipotentialites will help shift your perspective in a helpful way, or spur an idea for a new practice that will help you thrive.
1. Noticing & naming feelings
A lot of taking care of your mind is being able to even recognize when feelings are happening, and what those feelings are. A lot of multipotentialites mentioned this in their stories and tips. Lara shared:
“Past practices that have definitely helped are regular exercise, meditation, and cognitive behavioral techniques like recognizing my own distress and being able to ‘walk’ my thoughts backward to find their source. Identifying the source thought or trigger helps to keep my head and body in the moment, and takes me out of any spiral state where my emotions are headed.”
This is a fantastic practice to stay grounded in the present. Mindfulness practices and meditation can help with that, but even if meditation isn’t your thing, you can find innovative ways to observe your thoughts. Katie described an awesome technique that worked for her:
“I create little creatures from abstract blobs of colored ink and pen (Resistance Rebels!). I participated in Inktober this past month (1 drawing a day for 31 days) and it helped me through a lot of my fears and anxieties. Each drawing forced me to observe these thoughts and detach. And the bonus is I get a fun little creature at the end that doesn’t have to ‘turn out’—she can just exist as the weird, wild creature she is!”
David described another creative technique for naming feelings and needs, and expressing them to the important people in your life: “a clock graph with hands pointing to your current mood and mental state and ability level.” This can be the perfect tool for those times when it can be hard to find words to fit around what you need to communicate. David says:
“What it does is give you the opportunity to express yourself in a non-confrontational manner or reassure your partner with a guarantee that they are not the source of your current mood. The use of this device made it possible for us to express ourselves in words as we got more and more comfortable updating and consulting our mood charts.”
I love this idea, and I imagine this clock graph could be extremely useful even when you’re not around others, and just wanting to check in with yourself. Or you might try body awareness exercises including yoga, like Selina mentioned, or writing practices to help you empty your mind, like Bianca suggested.
2. Creating rhythms in your day
Many commenters this month talked about the importance of putting structure in place for your mind and body to attune to—creating rhythms, instead of letting your attention to mental health and care for yourself vary wildly from day to day.
Angela highlighted the need to check your sleep cycles, which has really helped her mental health and physical health:
“Over the last 4 months I have been working through treatments for sleep apnea at the suggestion of my partner and the results have been startling. Not only am I now feeling like I’m sleeping better, I have energy to go to work from 9 to 5 AND come home and spend a few hours on my many projects before feeling tired at a reasonable time to be able to get up for work the next day.”
It’s also important to find (or create) rhythm in the daytime structures you use, especially when you’re a multipod juggling a ton of projects like Maria. She shared:
“I have found that it really helps me if I have allotted time set for specific tasks, so that I don’t start working on something, and then get an email on another project I am working on, and tackle that…. basically, prioritized lists and times.”
But creating structure, as we often talk about on Puttylike, is all about remaining flexible. When it comes to rhythm, you can’t have the flow without the ebb. So remember Dennis’s advice to prevent burnout and help with stress in general:
“Every now and then you need to take a mental health day. Take the day off and have some fun, relax or just veg out.”
I know for me, taking care of my mental health is something that’s easier to do when my schedule has more structure… but sometimes I can’t control what my schedule looks like. So when I’m in a period where I know I’m going to be dealing with more unpredictability and high stress, I try to stay ahead of burnout by building rest periods into my schedule—and also by giving myself permission to follow my natural rhythms and just take an unscheduled rest day when I need to.
3. Start building your toolbox of practices that work for you
Arguably, the most important part of self-care is realizing that no single thing is going to do the big, complex job of nurturing your mind and mental health. Self-care is a journey, and it requires a lot of time, attention, and experimentation to find the specific mix of behaviors and practices that will work for you in your current situation.
Kim gave some lovely insight into what that journey looked like for her, and how self-care isn’t a one-behavior ballgame:
“I have 6 daily practices that keep me grounded and on track and in my body… Seems like a lot, but it’s been years of adding a habit, building it into normal life, then adding another… Some days are too busy, but most I can fit these in. I’m so much calmer and happier and more effective and productive now.”
Ike similarly shared some of his self-growth journey and move towards a combination of practices that work for him. Here are some he suggested:
“First off, I found going on hikes to be very therapeutic for my anxiety… Listening to the birds while feeling the sun (or even the rain) will get you out of your own head and give you a moment to escape. Another recent method I got into, is to simply watch motivational videos every morning before your day starts. It’s a great way to hear the things you need to hear and maybe kickstart some confidence. Lastly, I’d recommend a positive daily routine. Make your bed, keep up with your hygiene, and get some exercise. Sometimes it can take a while to change your habits. I’m still working on it myself. But the more I try the more traction I’ve been getting.”
Among the other multipotentialites who shared their particular mix of practices, Nicky shared some great ideas that I thought I’d feature here, too:
“Hiking, shooting hoops at a nearby basketball court, just walking around in the neighbourhood… Swimming in the lake (the literal “dive response” helps with my anxiety)… Repainting my furniture… Volunteering with young people… A few days ago I went on Youtube and sang along to songs I grew up with (Spice Girls, Britney Spears (I know right), NSYNC, etc.) and before long, I started dancing to them. Going back to the ‘joyful past’ actually helped.”
Who knows what combination of any of these ideas—or other strategies out there you might try—might be the tool set that helps you stay connected to yourself and your feelings? The only way to know is to try some out, and see what works for you.
Most multipods who shared about their combo of practices said that it’s taken time and patience to build each one into a habit. So if you’re new to thinking about mental health and how to specifically nurture your own, it’s probably best to pick one or two ideas to start exploring at a time, instead of trying to incorporate six or ten new daily behaviors at once.
But if you’re someone who already has some practices working for you, consider mixing it up and trying something new that you could add to your repertoire. For me, as I take care of myself, I understand my mental and emotional needs better every year. And that knowledge gives me more opportunities to get creative and find new ways to offer myself care. It’s been so helpful to read all of your suggestions, multipod readers, and think about which ones might work for me! (I’m particularly excited about drawing some of my own Resistance Rebels, personally.)
Let’s do self-care—together!
Multipotentialite friends, here’s to building our self-care toolboxes! Don’t forget: if you want some mental health support from other multipotentialites, join us in the Puttytribe for Slow Down December.
Slow Down December is a month of collaborative self-care. There will be workshops and discussions on topics like anxiety and art/creativity therapy, all from a multipotentialite perspective. There will also be weekly check-ins in the forum, live group meditations and light activities like making our own comfort boxes.
December can be a really stressful and difficult month, and Slow Down December is an invitation to, well, slow down and care for yourself—and to do it alongside your multipotentialite family.
If you’re not a Puttytribe member yet—just sign up for the waitlist and we’ll let you know as soon as the doors are open:
Did you miss the first chance to share your tips and strategies for self-care? We still want to hear yours! Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.