37 Reminders

As a former mental health researcher, here’s the emotional wellness advice I need to hear on my 37th birthday.

Emily PG Erickson

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Purple flowers with an orange center popping up through brown leaf litter.
The first flowers I saw bloom this spring. (Credit: The author, Emily P.G. Erickson)

I love to use my birthday as an opportunity to take stock. What went well last year? What do I hope for next year? What’s important to keep top of mind? So when I turned 37 last week, I wrote 37 reminders to myself (mostly in service of emotional wellness). Maybe they’ll help you too?

  1. If you’ve been avoiding something, that’s probably a clue you actually need to do the opposite. I know it’s hard, but breathe deep and look directly at whatever is bothering you. You’ve got to see problems directly to solve them properly.
  2. Relatedly, a real, specific problem is usually more manageable than a hypothetical, vague one.
  3. Sometimes you have to say something more than once to be heard. It’s no one’s fault — just a function of back-and-forth communication. If something is important, don’t drop it too quickly.
  4. Eating plants feels good.
  5. You get grumpy and feel crummy if you go too long without eating. Always pack pistachios.
  6. Ditto for drinking. Hydrate consistently throughout the day. A huge glug in the evening ain’t it.
  7. You tend to take on too much. Stay alert for early signs of overwhelm. It’s so much easier to back up when you’ve only taken a few steps in the wrong direction.
  8. Your body is made to move. If 30 minutes of activity is too much, start with 5 minutes. Some is better than none.
  9. There is no substitute for seeing other humans in real life.
  10. Wear clothes that fit your body as it is. You’ll feel better.
  11. Your preferences can be reason enough to do something. It’s ok to do something just because you want to.
  12. Don’t underestimate incremental progress.
  13. Start small.
  14. On bad days, take comfort in the law of regression to the mean. Tomorrow will be better.
  15. If you’re tired, don’t take your thoughts too seriously. If they’re still around the morning, you’ll be better able to deal with them then.
  16. All emotions — even the ones that feel…

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Emily PG Erickson

Former mental health researcher sharing insights about psychology and parenting. www.emilypgerickson.com