Posted in rituals, writing

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Yesterday marked the end of my 30-day April Challenge for Autism Awareness Month:

Anyway, this coming April, for Autism Awareness Month, in addition to a second year of pretending I’m a farmer in our backyard, I wanted to contribute some of my experiences—as well as useful links to the experiences of others—to further an authentic, public conversation about autism.

While I intend to nurture this blog at least until the end of the year—after all, my New Year’s Resolution is to write half a million words—I’ll no longer be updating it daily. Instead, I’ll post updates every Sunday and Tuesday, as part of my blogging rotation…

May Blogging Schedule

*These blogs receive two updates a week. Other blogs receive one update a week. 

The only time I’ll rubber-band back to daily updates is August, when I plan to set the anti-vaxx movement on fire to dig deep into the medical research behind autism.

For more about the themes & topics I’ll be exploring every month, visit this schedule.

Themes and Challenges

For instance, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and June includes Aromatherapy Awareness Week… So for this month, I’ll focus on my pursuit for better mental health (as well as provide tons of links about different mental illnesses, disorders, etc.), and next month, I’ll look more at accessing atypical neurological frameworks through smell.

I’m also adventuring into a few new 30-day May Challenges for Mental Health Awareness —but these are to give myself more awareness of the inner workings of my mental health,…not so much to provide awareness to a community. 😉

Still, I’d like to invite my readers on my journey to experience better mental health. Who knows—maybe my methodology can help you. Here are the three steps I plan to take, and the ways I intend to document my progress…

Step One 💌 3×7 Love Notes

In my planner, I’m exploring 3 categories of love 7 times per day:

  1. Self-love: 7 positive “I am” statements;
  2. Love for others: 7 gratitudes;
  3. Love for the creative process: 7 story ideas;

IMG_9041

Today, it only took me 13 minutes to come up with my seven “I am” statements, followed by seven gratitudes and seven story ideas… But I imagine, on other days, this practice may leer upwards to a half hour or more.

IMG_9043

Still, my hope is by combining this 30-day challenge with 30 days of 10+ daily meditations through the Calm app, I’ll improve my thinking habits. My meditation practice is going well so far…

#nofilter #sketchbook #neonpaint #heartbroken #missmymom

A post shared by Kourtnie McKenzie (@kourtnienet) on

Step Two 💗 20-30 Minutes of Daily Meditation

The Calm app comes with daily meditations, as well as different meditative journeys inward. The daily meditations are 10-15 minutes long. I listen to them in the late morning to early afternoon.

Image-1

Later in the day, I meditate for another 10-15 minutes by listening to one of the meditative journeys. So far, I’ve completed the following journeys:

  • 7 Days of Calming Anxiety
  • 7 Days of Happiness

This month, I intend to complete:

  • 7 Days of Self-Esteem (on day 3 right now)
  • 7 Days of Sleep
  • 7 Days of Managing Stress
  • 7 Days of Gratitude

Then I’ll start the 7 Days of Focus, which should take me into June.

Step Three 💚 Reset Circadian Rhythm

I have poor sleep hygiene. My hope is, by working to reset my circadian rhythm with morning sunlight—as well as no longer spending non-sleeping time in bed—I’ll work towards a better night’s rest.

Every day, after waking up and getting dressed, I’d like to spend 20-30 minutes:

  • taking a walk;
  • gardening; or
  • visiting the nursery.

If I’m unwell, I can also sit at the patio table in the backyard to meditate.

Purple is one of my favorite colors #💜

A post shared by Kourtnie McKenzie (@kourtnienet) on

Recap This Month’s Mental Health Goals

So again, last month’s completed goals for Autism Awareness:

  • 30 days of updating this blog (to build an autistic community); &
  • the NYC screenwriting challenge—had autistic characters. 😎

Then this month’s goals for Mental Health Awareness:

  • 30 days of 3×7 positive thinking: 7 “I am” self-loves; 7 gratitudes; & 7 story ideas—to be tracked by regular updates at Kourtnie.net;
  • 30 days of 20-30 min of meditation—to be tracked by regular updates at From North On (so I can simultaneously try meditating at different locations); &
  • 30 days of 20-30 min of sunlight a day (gardening, taking a walk, visiting the nursery, or meditating at the patio table), to be tracked by regular updates at My Quest for Chicken (so I can also track my pseudo-farming).

And maybe next month’s goals, if I don’t need a new prototype for this month’s attempts:

  • 30 days of different aromatherapy recipes;
  • 30 days of 30-60 min+ of meditation; &
  • 30 days of 30-60 min+ social anxiety combo sunlight gradual exposure (walking to the coffee shop, visiting the nursery, or photographing the zoo).

Given how much autistic people lean into habitual behavior, the sooner I can break negative thinking patterns, the better. Here’s to better mental health!

Do you prefer 💖 #pinkflowers or #whiteflowers ❓

A post shared by Kourtnie McKenzie (@kourtnienet) on


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Author:

Kourtnie McKenzie holds an MFA (Fiction) from Fresno State and a BA in English (Literature Studies) from Cal State Fullerton. When she isn't writing novellas, she's moonlighting as a professor at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. To read more of her writing, visit Kourtnie.net.

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