January seems to be a popular month for cleansing. Many of my friends are eating clean which means cutting out sugar, gluten, alcohol and other stuff we tend to over indulge in throughout the year. It’s a way to hit “reset” and get a fresh start. I’ve never been good at “all or nothing” (I’ve tried), but I admire those who have the strength and willpower to do it.

Now that we’re all clean and fresh (at least many of us), I’d like to suggest 2 challenges:

Schedule 5 minutes of daily happiness

It’s puzzing that we have so much trouble finding time for ourselves. When I think about all the time I spend each day doing unimportant things that feel urgent, it makes me laugh. Yes, laundry, dishes, toilets and floors all need attention, but maybe not the very minute I notice or think about them. If we try to clean and organize the fridge every time we get home with groceries, we’ve lost a good chunk of the day. I don’t know…my head might explode, but I’m trying. To be honest, a clean space makes me happy. My point is, there are a few really simple things that I could do that would shift my mood and perspective to mind my mind. I just need to make more time for them. Here are a few examples:

  • Watch the Sunrise/Sunset (set my phone alarm and step outside for 5 minutes to take them in)
  • Look at the stars (this makes me giddy, but I forget to do it)
  • Stretch (it’s a little gift that costs absolutely nothing)
  • Drink coffee or eat without distractions (especially electronic)
  • Catch a few rays of sunshine (sit next to a window or step outside to find a patch of sun — the vitamin D makes for a double dose of feel good)
  • Call or send a message to someone I care about (I like to let people know when I’m thinking about them).
  • Pick up my guitar (music calms the savage beast)
  • Pet my dog (no explanation needed)
  • Look at pictures of babies (human and/or furry)

Try picking just one thing to do each day and set an alarm to make sure you do it.

Ask for something you want

The other day, I came across a quote from author and trainer Lynette Xanders:

“People will do anything in the world for you, except read your mind.”

How true is this?? We all love to do things for others, but we hate to asking things for ourselves. Just think how happy we could make each other if we allowed ourselves to ask for and receive something we want. My husband’s primary “love language” is “acts of service”. He is constantly doing nice things for me and never requires praise or affirmation for them. He cooks incredible meals and makes sure the house is neat when I come home a work trip. He makes our bed every morning because he knows how much I appreciate it. And these are just a few things he does for me.

The other day, I was feeling grumpy because we almost always have cold beer in the fridge but my bubbly waters sit warm in the pantry. Yes, I can add ice, but to me, it’s like adding ice to beer. The ice melts and waters it down and then the bubbles are gone. Such a simple, silly thing, but I found myself feeling resentful about not having cold bubbly water. After reading Lynnette’s quote, I told my husband that I would be really happy if we always had room for bubbly water in the fridge. “Ok!,” he said. And that was it. Now we almost always have cold bubbly water in there. So that’s a simple example, but it means a lot to me. It’s funny how we tend to blame others for not giving us things they don’t even know we want. So that little thing led to more asking. I want us to do more physical activities outside together. “Sure!,” he said. and we’ve been hiking more. Now I’m thinking about what else I should  ask for ;).

As I was writing this blog, the kind woman that helps my elderly dad keep his apartment clean texted to confirm a time for next week. I asked if she would mind wiping down the inside of his refrigerator. I’ve been mildly annoyed by this small oversite, but I realized that I never asked her to do this. Guess what she said? ”Ok!”.

So if you can take February to show yourself some love and allow others to do the same, it could be a really great month.  Love to all of you and thanks for reading my blog. If you know someone who you think might enjoy this article, please share with them. Our hope is to get more people thinking about daily mental health. Help us spread the word.

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.