We all talk about mental health, and this undoubtedly covers a spectrum of states of wellness. Some people talk about mental disorder - although I am not sure this is always a helpful way to look at our mental health. What can you do to try and improve your mental health?
I recently wrote an article for Authority Magazine in which I pondered this question, and I came up with 5 ways to optimise mental wellness.
1. Positive Reframe
For every negative thought we have, or view we express, there is a more positive way of reframing them. Learn to look for the positive in every situation. Think of a mother that struggles to put her children to bed at night. Each evening would become a nightmare scenario. The mother became increasingly frustrated with the children and started to shout at them. She dreaded each evening. After talking things over in a therapy session, she was able to reframe her thinking so that she saw bedtime as a time when she could nurture her children and show them affection. Instead of seeing their bedtime routine as a struggle, she started to think about it as a special time when they could spend time together. This helped her approach bedtime with a much calmer attitude, which helped the children relish the opportunity to go to bed rather than arguing to stay up.
2. Look for repeating patterns of behaviour.
Do you see yourself repeating patterns of behaviour? A period of self-reflection can help to spot the signs so that you can take steps not to repeat historic traits. I have met clients who were often told by their parents to be strong and not to show emotion. They carry that mantra with them into adulthood and it often means that they came across to prospective partners as cold and uncaring. It is important to reflect on our values and behaviours and question whether what we were told as children is still serving us well today. If it isn’t then it is time to rewrite the script.
3. What is happening in our bodies?
If we tune into what our body is telling us, we can spot ways to counter feelings of high alert or anxiety. We must learn to listen to our gut and our heart as well as our head. Sometimes when we feel anxious, we get pains in our chest, stomach, or experience a general feeling of unease. The gut can be a reliable indicator of how we are feeling mentally. The gut alone is powerful, but when we add gut feeling to our logical and rational mind, we will get the best answers. Often, we worry about things that are beyond our control. This has become particularly prevalent during the pandemic and during world events such as the Ukrainian crisis. This is the first thing to address. If we cannot control the outcome, there is no point worrying about it. Thinking about what might happen is not helpful. We need to concentrate on what is in our gift to control and focus on the positive.
4. Physical Fitness
Making sure we have a fit and healthy body is a huge part of our mental wellbeing. Taking exercise and eating well will contribute to our clarity of thinking and the way we feel. I love to walk. I like nothing better than going out for a 10-mile walk in nature around my local area.
Sometimes I take my camera, and other times I write about the walk and share it with others. However, I am as fallible as the next person and if I get busy at work, exercise is often the first thing that drops to the bottom of my list of priorities. I then start to feel more stressed and lethargic. I know that if I plan exercise into my day, I am more alert, fitter, happier and able to give more to my clients.
5. Talking Works
Talking to a friend, a colleague, a family member or a professional, is the best way of addressing our feelings and concerns. Talk to someone who will listen without judgment. My professional life is all about extolling the virtues of talking and it is something I believe passionately. Talking to my partner, friends, and mentors is vitally important to my mental wellness. Whilst I would encourage anyone who is suffering to seek professional help, I never underestimate the power of talking to a friend. We all need to share what is going on in our heads. Bottling things up only leads to more unhappiness.
If you would like to seek some independent help, get in touch with me.
All my contact links and social media links can be found here : www.talkingworks.uk/tw
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