BSW MSW RSW Mental Wellness Counsellor
Town and Country Counselling
Mental Wellness is an important topic that is becoming more and more needed in today’s world.
Tammy Thielman wrote a very informative and helpful article that was first published in our Fall 2021 Issue of Trailblazher Magazine featuring 10 Mental Wellness Tips for Trailblazhers!
“As Trailblazhers with multi-layered passions and interests, we need to keep ourselves as well as possible. As women, we deserve to enjoy the rurally-based, full and challenging lives that we lead. Each one of us wants to give, create and grow (or, as you’ll read below, choose not to grow but to “be”). Be exactly who and what we are, without growth or the pressure to be something other than who we are. This process of honouring and defining the authentic, trailblazing YOU takes curiosity and courage. Here are ten tips that can help you along your journey, regardless of the choices that you make for yourself.
Know your boundaries. Say no when you need to, when you feel internal resistance or frustration. Women are often told and shown that we must look after responsibilities that aren’t really ours, we are often socially rewarded for “doing everything”. But, we may pay the price in exhaustion, anger and feeling depleted. You have the power of choice, and you can use your choice to say NO and then, when you want to, to say YES, to what you choose.
Do you know there are different types of rest? Rest is not only sleeping. You may crave sensory rest (aahh, quiet). You may need spiritual rest, however you define your own faith or spiritual practice, (maybe your mind/heart/body needs to bask in this nourishing place and practice). You may need rest time just for you, or “time in” with others who you love and love you back. You may need to create, or take a break from creating. Ask yourself what type of rest you need and attend to this gently and intentionally like you would for a small child. Give yourself permission to take the kind of rest you need, because no one else will do this for you.
We all need food, some monetary income, a roof over our heads and at least a few other people in our lives who care about us. These four things are only the basics for survival. We all need to receive nourishment from much more, the ‘more’ is what makes life interesting, rewarding, challenging and fun. If you feel stuck in survival mode, ask yourself, “What else do I need right now?” Self-care can be simple (look at the view), low cost (make a cup of tea), and with regular practice, very rewarding. Slowing down and putting the extra little things back into our lives can help us, over time, feel increased energy and have better access to coping skills in times of stress.
Change can be difficult and for most people, alarming at times. With all the challenges of being a rural woman, change is part of our daily lives. Change can bring loss, maybe loss of a dream, a plan, a goal. Maybe we’ve lost a special animal, a crop or an order. Allow yourself to grieve losses. Grief is like a winding river – there are rapids, calm pools and rough water. Grief can pop up at odd, inconvenient times. Grief can also bring up complex, mixed emotions that feel like a whirlpool. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to travel (with support from those that care about you) on that river. Find the calm pool when you need to. Joy will come back into your life again.
As rural women, especially as women who create, build, grow for our businesses and farms, we can forget that we matter. Our livestock may be up to date on all health checks and vaccinations, but are we? Are there appointments or treatments that you are needing, but keep putting off? All of our business orders may be filled and shipped, but are we being as diligent about attending to our own important needs. Remember, you deserve care and support. You deserve health and wellness. If you need to see the dentist or get to your medical appointment, make looking after YOU a priority.
In this era of wellness and self-improvement, we are often pressured to “be” something other than what we are. We may receive messages about being more, doing more and making more, but what about being and doing less? What about saying “No thanks” to messaging that women are something to be improved upon? Listen to your inner wise woman – if you are happy with yourself, your life, your business and don’t want to grow, compete or “improve” anything, you don’t have to. We are each allowed to define our own life. Opting out of chasing growth, wealth and “being more” is a choice you’re allowed to make for yourself.
One of the mantras for improving self-esteem and avoiding the social media malaise is to avoid comparing yourself to the next woman. When we compare, we inevitably will feel “less than.” There is always someone doing what we think we “should” be doing. Do you need a two-week social media rest? Begin with simply noticing when you are falling into that comparison trap, just notice this and then take action, like turning off your device. Read and watch to be inspired, not to feel like you aren’t enough – You Are Enough.
Trailblazhers across North America face so many varying challenges. We’ve had viruses, wildfires, and heatwaves as well as the daily challenges rural life and business bring. Many of us also have families, perhaps ageing and/or young family members, we may have other jobs and more than one business or creative enterprise. When your stress-meter is high, when there are additional stressors happening around you, you may need extra support, rest and recovery time. You may wonder why you feel tired or under pressure. You may feel overwhelmed and confused. Look around and note just how much stress we, as rural women, cope with daily. We get used to layers of stress and pressure. Taking a break, taking a breather is okay. Rural women often face challenges with less support than those living in urban centres. Give yourself credit and take that extra time when you need it.
Being a rural woman means that we may live with isolation and a DIY attitude. We may not be able to see our neighbours or call on them easily. Think of a kind trailblazing, rural woman who inspires you. What would she do? What would she tell you or how would she encourage you? Maybe this nurturing person is a beloved late grandmother. Maybe she’s a sister or friend, or a woman you read about. Even if we can’t see one another regularly, let the supportive role-modelling of another Trailblazher inspire and help you.
Feeling happier and healthier is an individual process that can and should take time. To avoid setbacks, just go slowly, seeing what works for you, your life, your family and your business. Trust in yourself and that you know yourself the best. You are taking the time to learn what you need, what you want and what works the best for you, as a person. This process is important and deserves time and care. Don’t let anyone rush you. Take time to listen to yourself, your heart, your dreams.
What is your best mental wellness tip?