I’ve been #$%@*&! like a sailor.

I don’t know if sailors really swear more than the rest of us, but lately I’ve been swearing up a storm. Now, when I say more than usual, that means a lot. My close friends know that I’m not shy about dropping a therapeutic F-bomb on occasion. It may not be very becoming, but it sure feels satisfying. So why is my fuse so much shorter these days? Well, that’s not hard to figure out. Like many of us, I feel impatient and irritable with the pandemic, with politics, with social injustice and all of the other things that have been flying at us this year. I’m sleeping less, grinding my teeth more and of course, swearing. Everytime I drop something, bump into something, forget something…you name it…the expletives fly like bats outta hell.

The other day, my poor dad asked “Why do you jump all over everything I say? I have a right to an opinion too you know!”.

Wow. Ya think? That was a good reality check for me. Yes, my dad, as sweet as he is, often triggers my family baggage and blasphemy. While we generally lean in the same political direction, I often have little patience for the way he expresses his opinions. I’m constantly shouting across the generational gap, trying to impose my “wokeness” on him (note: some of the shouting is due to his significant hearing impairment, but if I’m being really honest, volume doesn’t make a difference with him). Either way, I find myself getting more riled up than usual these days.

In the spirit of minding my mind, I’m working on a few things to chip away at and channel my angst. There’s likely nothing here that you haven’t heard or read before, but I find that a dose of self-awareness (thanks dad) and a few reminders help me reset. Here are 4 things I’m trying to keep my profanity in check.

Cutting down on #$%@*&! caffeine

I love my morning coffee and I like it fresh and strong. It’s a 2-cup ritual that I covet. But the French roast beans that I grind daily probably contribute to the teeth I grind every night. I’m feeling the caffeine more than usual these days so I’m weaning myself down to one cup and I’m substituting the 2nd cup for dandelion tea. Who knew? I’m actually loving it and it seems to be helping.

Here’s some coffee talk from Healthline: Does Caffeine Cause Anxiety?

Strength training

I’ve been a moderate runner for a good part of my adult life. I’m not fast and I don’t run far, but I love how it helps me re-energize and clear my head. But lately, my middle-aged joints, muscles and nerves are swearing right back at me about the impact. So I’ve cut my running down to 1-2 times per week and I’m strength training which feels amazing. I do it at home 3x a week with minimal equipment (dumbbells and body weight) and while I sometimes swear while I’m doing it, the clean and jerking of weights seems to be cleaning up my language a bit throughout the day.

Here are some muscle insights from Harvard Medical School: Strengthen your mood with weight training

Creating a peaceful space

The other day a friend told me our house was a “sanctuary”.  While that’s not always true (we can get pretty messy sometimes), I’ve been nesting a lot in an attempt to mind my mind. Clearing clutter and creating calm, peaceful spaces for working and relaxing is one of my top stress-reducers. Both the act of tearing apart the contents of the closet under the stairs (while trying not to swear) and putting things back together nicely is cathartic and cleansing for me and my mouth. I also recognize that this is a very personal obsession and not for everyone. But I will say that creating at least one small space in your home that makes you feel calm is worth a try. Especially during the pandemic when we’re spending so much time at home. Maybe start with just a corner of a room. I love to make a comfortable place to sit by moving a favorite chair, rug and lamp from other rooms. I try to see what I can do without buying anything new and, recycling and repurposing things I already have. Lastly, I have to escape the #$%@*&! news and put on some music. It completely changes my mood and the feel of the room I’m in.

WebMD has some clutter ideas to consider: How Clutter Can Affect Your Health

Practicing gratitude

Yes, I’ve written about this before, but I’ve needed to remind myself this month about practicing gratitude. It literally changes our brains. I’ve got more good things in my life than bad right now, even with all that’s going on. I have to remind myself everyday to think about the good instead of cursing the bad stuff.

Here’s a quote from Sonja Lyubomirsky, a prominent positive psychology researcher and the author of several books on happiness. She believes that gratitude is a meta-strategy for health and well-being.

“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented.”

Read this article if you’re interested in more: The Neuroscience Behind Gratitude: How Does Cultivating Appreciation Affect Your Brain?

To summarize, I’ve been minding my mind to mind my mouth.

What has stress been bringing up for your lately? If you could pick 4 things to help you mind your mind, what would they be? Say them out loud, write them down. Share them with us!

Thanks for reading and stay well.

Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a  blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.