“You have power over your mind- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius
In electrical circuits, a ground wire is used to offer the current a way into the ground. It is a built in protective system by providing an alternate path for the voltage to go instead of your house or on you. As long as the hot and neutral wires work properly, the ground wire can just relax and hang out. The ground is simply a backup plan in case these wires malfunction (or a raccoon eats one for dinner) and the current has nowhere else to go.
Coping skills for mood and anxiety are similar. You might have a “standard” set of skills that are habitual for everyday use-which work most of the time when things are going well. These might be to sleep well, eat a good diet, and exercise. They are the fun things, too, and don’t feel much like work- more of your hobbies might fall into this category. Your favorite music, books, and activities that you try to do on regular basis as time allows. This is when things are going pretty smoothly and you’re focusing on prevention. The hot and neutral wires are doing their job.
However, when things ramp up a bit and get more stressful, we encounter a seasonal change, mood episode, or daylight savings time ruins our rhythm, we have a break in the circuit. We need to reroute the voltage to the ground wire. We need another set of skills. Sometimes we forget about this list because they’re not ones we’re doing all the time. Research shows our skills require practice in order to be effective, but it’s only completely honest and practical to acknowledge there’s only so much time. To ease this pressure, I recommend we have another set of tools on hand.
What’s your ground wire? What’s your contingency plan, and how will you know when it’s time to use it?
Consider these points when identifying your ground:
- What do you find comforting and healthy?
- Think in balance and moderation
- Think about who, where, and what comes to your mind when you think about feeling well. Conversely, what, who, and where might you avoid or cut back when you don’t?
- Consider adding exercise for your body, mind, and spirit in whatever ways those feel good to you.
- When it feels like the same old depression/anxiety/situation again, consider that you haven’t tried everything yet. Please be open to new treatments, therapies, activities, hobbies, people, and ways to live a full, healthy, and spiritual life.
These plans-your ground wire- help you insulate yourself for when things might go wrong in the electrical circuit. After all, isn’t that what mental illness are-a particular type of wiring in the brain?
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