Did you know that 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime? That is an incredible statistic. Many people take time daily to focus on their physical health, we would like to encourage you to do the same with your mental health, because your mental health matters!
It is important to remember that mental health is a spectrum and can vary from good to poor. A person’s mental health may fluctuate and vary depending on a person’s circumstances and their life. It is common for people to experience patches of sub-optimal mental health.
Research has shown that resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your ability to cope.
It takes time and practice to build resilience and so remember if you are not feeling good, please reach out and seek help.
One of the ways that you can grow your mental health is to understand your brain and how it functions a bit better.
Did you know that, even if you are a naturally positive person, our brain focuses approximately 64% of its time on negative rather than positive information? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, calls them ANTs – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These negative thoughts can tend to trigger the threat response in our body and brain and they impact on our ability to problem-solve and make good decisions.
How to catch yourself when you’re feeling down
Part of being mentally well is to catch your brain when it is focusing on the negative and then learn to refocus it elsewhere.
Some ways you can do that include:
- Become aware of your regular ANTs
- Ask yourself if what your brain is telling you is true
- Tell your brain that you have got this
- Replace those ANTs with more positive thoughts
- Seek out others who have different perspectives
- Relax and remember that this too will pass
- Practice the 5:5:5 – ask yourself, will this matter in 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months. If the answer is ‘No’ then let it go
- Smile – this helps by releasing the feel-good chemicals in our brain and helps open up more of the thinking part of our brain
- Regular self-care.
Speaking of regular self-care, it is one of the things that can really help boost a person’s resilience. One of the ways we know our client’s resilience is dropping is when they start a coaching session with the following (apologies, this is a swearing alert). When we ask how they are doing they usually reply, ‘Everybody is pissing me off. I want to through my phone away and my computer. I want to find a deserted island or cave and not see anyone for a couple of weeks.’
Please know that this is not a sign of weakness. Rather it is a sign of being too generous to others and not generous enough with yourself.
How to maintain your mental wellness
Some other things that you can do to support and maintain your mental wellness, include:
- Getting a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night) – this is the foundational element that helps all other efforts – watch Matt Walker’s TED Talk, Sleep is your superpower
- An hour before bed write all your worries in your worry journal and then finish it with three things you are grateful for. This is a great way to get the worries out of your head and help you sleep more soundly
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day
- Taking regular holidays (even staycations)
- Eating good quality food with no or low sugar
- Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water
- Daily exercise – movement makes us feel better and helps our brain to continue to grow
- Deep breathing
- Meditation – it could be as simple as getting on YouTube and selecting a nature meditation and watching that for a couple of minutes
- Journalling – rate your day out of 10 and ask yourself what you should ‘keep doing, stop doing and start doing?’
- Connecting socially – whether online or in-person such as a picnic at the local park
- Positive thinking and positive language
- Practicing mindfulness
- Having fun
- Showing compassion
- Practicing daily gratitude – this has fabulous physical and mental health benefits including increased happiness and sleeping better
- Practicing random acts of kindness
- Regularly getting out in nature
- Reframing – instead of saying ‘I have to…’ change it to ‘I choose to…’ or ‘I get to…’
- Using essential oils to uplift you – my favourites for this are citrus based oils
- Creating some upbeat music playlists.
We also really love Mental Health Australia’s Mental Health Month October 2020 calendar. It is full of great ideas to support your mental health.
Remember, YOU matter. If at any time, you or someone you care for, needs help please reach out to any of the 24/7 National Crisis Counselling Services.
We would also love for you to share things you do to support your mental health. You never know who this might help.
For even more tips, watch our Disruption Series webinar on Building Your Resilience and Resourcefulness!