MCC Daily Tribune
Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health by Accumulating Positive Experiences this Summer
We at the Counseling Center and Disability Services office would like to encourage you to give yourself permission to have fun, laugh, and be silly, even if you are also grieving, or feeling angry, sad, anxious, or bewildered by what is happening around us during this difficult time. As many of you reflect on your own vulnerabilities, as well as those which friends, individuals whom you work with, or family members are carrying, you may be thinking to yourself "We're out here surviving, but it doesn't feel like we are thriving." The information below is not meant to invalidate the seriousness of challenges being faced at present. It is being shared as a tool to help you take advantage of opportunities to ground in little positive moments in the here and now, and to work towards accumulating more positive experiences in the long-term. The ultimate goal: continue to build a life that feels worth living for ourselves and for future generations. Life is both painful and beautiful; both things can be held true at the same time.
Accumulate positive experiences in the short-term: Do pleasant things that are possible now!
By building positive experiences (doing something enjoyable everyday), we can reduce our vulnerability to our emotion mind (feeling emotions bigger and stronger and potentially acting impulsively). This allows us to be more proactive and less reactive, in that we will likely be better able to handle challenges thrown our way if we are doing things to continuously empty out our "cup of feelings" before it becomes full to the brim and is about to overflow. By making changes and focusing on accumulating positive experiences whenever possible in the short-term, it will also allow positive events to occur more often in the long-term. We know that positive events prompt pleasant emotions. We encourage you to take a look at the attached Summer Pleasant Activities List we adapted. Feel free to edit it and tailor it to your interests, share it, print it off, and check off one thing each day that you could feasibly do. Some tips to consider:
Be mindful of positive experiences while they are occurring:
- Focus your attention on positive moments when they are happening
- Refocus your attention when your mind wanders to the negative or you get distracted
- Participate and engage fully in the experience (throw yourself into it)
- It's okay to laugh and have a good time while there is pain within us and surrounding us. In fact, taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to feel a full range of emotions may allow you to empty your "cup" enough to have more room to be a better advocate as you continue to address causes that are important to you.
Be mindful of worries such as...
- When the positive experience will end
- Example: Have you ever developed a case of the "Sunday Scaries?" Imagine that you wake up at 9am on a Sunday morning and, even though you have plans for a fun family BBQ that afternoon, you automatically start thinking about all the work you're going to have to do on Monday morning. If you're worried about going back to work or school tomorrow, it may stifle your Sunday plans. We can sometimes ruin a possible enjoyable day by being in the negative and struggling to stay present in the here and now.
- You may need to re-train your brain to also focus on the positives.
- Whether you deserve this positive experience
- Remind yourself that you are deserving of good things!
- It's healthy to practice taking some time for yourself every single day.
Content adapted from DBT Skills Training Manual, Second Edition by Marsha Linehan, (c) 2015 Guildford Press and also from DBT (R) Skills Manual for Adolescents, by Jill H. Rathus and Alec L. Miller, (c) 2015 by The Guilford Press.
Summer Pleasant Activities List .pdf
Counseling Center & Disability Services