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Community Health: Education, Prevention & Inspiration

Less is more when it comes to your mental health

person standing under bridge

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chose the slogan More Than Enough to highlight the value every one of us holds regardless of diagnosis, appearance, socioeconomic status, background, or ability. NAMI reminds us that “showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.”

One way many of us can get caught up in feeling “not enough” is by using productivity as validation or a status symbol. In the fast-paced, goal-driven culture of the 21st Century, it’s easy to keep doing without taking the time just to be. Take a moment to reflect upon your past week. Did you experience more doing or being? For many, the answer is doing. You could say we are a society of doers.

You might find yourself asking what it actually means to “be.” Being can be described as “resting in experience” as well as “fully present and aware of whatever is here, right now.” Being is a felt sense of an intimate experience with the present moment.

This described state is quite the opposite of doing, which is what you may have an easier sense of describing – completing tasks, getting things done, and maybe even multitasking. Doing is essential to follow your dreams, make a living, and care for yourself and your family.

It is not that one is more valuable than the other. As human beings (get it?), our challenge is to find a balance between the two. Can you think of being and doing working in collaboration together rather than operating combatively? Experts agree individuals often get trapped in the doing, trying to reach the destination, without awareness of the journey.

If you are looking to experience more being in your life, begin by reflecting on the following questions:

  • Where does your sense of being move to when you are doing well? Not doing well?
  • Can you rest increasingly in who you are when you feel supported, when not running on empty?

Mindful practices such as meditation and breathing techniques are effective strategies for experiencing being. Research suggests mindfulness interventions reduce symptoms of stress and burnout and improve emotional regulation.

It can be as simple as taking one conscious breath, following the inhale and the exhale all the way through. Practice coming to your breath several times a day to enhance your felt sense of being. Give yourself permission to experience more being in your daily life.