Probably not the right thing to say given that I’m a former Navy SEAL and lead a company whose mission is to help people gain control over their physical and mental health, but it’s the truth.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the US suffers from mental illness. I have not been diagnosed with a mental illness, but I’m also not immune to the compounding effects of stress—running a startup from home, quarantined alongside my wife, 21-month-old twin girls, and new baby boy, has taken its toll.
Over the past year, my team and I have worked with thousands of individuals across the country, each of whom is facing a unique set of stressors. Some cancer, others divorce, others the loss of loved ones, jobs, or purpose. If there is one thing that stands out, it’s that everyone, even you, is dealing with something, even if it’s just the stress of the mundane. There’s just no avoiding life.
If mental illness is present in your life, know you’re not alone. You matter, and maybe the most courageous thing you can do today is ask for help. Find professional medical care—there is no substitute.
If you’re like me, not in need of professional care but still struggling in the face of stress, I’d like to share four actions that help me and our members.
Move now. Sit still long enough, and a crisis will come. Take action, however small, to feel better before a struggle turns into a fight for survival. Think of the actions you take as prehab for the mind, helping you build resilience to ward off unforeseen challenges and better respond to those that will undoubtedly arise.
Build momentum. You won’t think or feel your way back into a better state of mind. But positive momentum is a powerful force that builds quickly through consistent effort and serves as a buffer for when things get hard. Your effort doesn’t have to be big to make a big difference; it just has to be repeated steps, no matter how small, towards a better you.
Be kind. Life is hard, and you’re not a robot. When you fall short or get knocked off track, be kind to yourself. When you’re ready, recommit to your process and move again.
Focus on the process. Mental wellness isn’t a final destination. It’s a process that requires continued effort, exploration, and updating. What works today might not be what works tomorrow. Your process will also be different from your neighbor’s, and that’s a good thing. It means that nobody else holds the keys—the answers are inside of you waiting to be discovered.
I’m struggling, but I’ve also discovered a process that works for me. On that note, it’s time to close the screen and take the kids for a walk—the fresh air, sunshine, and laughter serve me well.
Working alongside a team of scientists, clinicians, and human performance experts, Pat Dossett co-created Madefor, a company that helps people take back control of their physical and mental health. Prior to Madefor, Pat spent 9 years serving as a US Navy SEAL before earning an MBA as a Tillman Scholar at the Wharton School of Business.