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01/03/2024

Column: How To Be Well: Start, Stop, & Continue

Hey, Y’all. It’s been a while. Remember me? Sara from the Mental Health Coalition.

Several years ago I read an article that claimed we all had a ‘hard season’. It then listed “19 Ways to Overcome Your Hard Season.” Which seemed like an overwhelming number of things to do if you were struggling. So I just shut my computer and did none of them.

I bring this up because it’s been a hard season—a winter that won’t come but then does and then doesn’t again, unexpected losses, community tragedies, holidays, school closures…the list goes on and on. I haven’t known exactly what to say or how to sum up in 19 bullet points what we should do about all that.

So, like a lot of people when things get hard, I haven’t said much of anything. Which is the number one thing NOT to do when you or someone you know is struggling. Oops! See, even us trained professionals are human sometimes.

I’m going to try to remedy that today, not by providing any specific advice, but by giving you a simple exercise. One we recently completed at the Coalition instead of making New Year’s resolutions. How is it already 2024 by the way?

The practice is called Start, Stop, Continue. Which is much more manageable than 19 things, right? All you need to do is think about the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors you want to start, stop, and continue. 

Many of you might be participating in Dry January. So you want to stop drinking as much as you normally do. Some of you might want to continue treating your body with care. Others might want to start participating in winter sports—if the weather cooperates.

No need to rattle off numerous things. Just bring some attention to how you are spending your time. Because if you are middle-aged, you only have about 2,000 weeks left to start, stop, and continue things. I know! I was shocked too when I heard this.

Which might be the one piece of advice I do have. When we experience unexpected loss or difficulties, it can have a clarifying effect on what’s truly important to us. Let it. 

It’s okay to shift as a response to whatever you’re experiencing during your ‘hard season’. We might need to stop jobs, relationships, hobbies (hello skiing for me), or friend groups. Or let ourselves start going to and participating in new experiences that might feel uncomfortable at first. This is okay. This is how we become mentally well.

If you, or someone you know, needs help starting, stopping, or continuing their mental health care, let us know. We provide free and confidential support, as well as six free counseling sessions to qualified individuals. Call or text 208-354-6198, email info@tetonvalleymentalhealth.com, or get in touch with us. Our offices are staffed Monday-Friday from 9 am-4 pm.

76 N Main Street, Suite 206, Driggs, ID 83422
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