It’s upon us again. World Mental Health Day. With all the days we have in the annual calendar to boost awareness of important subjects it is easy for us to become numbed towards the important messages that come out.
So I am going to make it simple this year.
The awareness day may grab you attention but it is of no use unless you take action.
It starts with awareness….
It continues with action and then…..well it just continues.
You don’t start at a gym, get fit and then say “ Well that’s it. That’s fitness ticked off, I don’t have to do that again. It’s back to my previous life of a couch potato that I loved so much and left me admired by many”
We know that fitness of any type is a continuous progressive and sometimes challenging journey for us all. It is an obvious analogy.
So, without further ado I am going to share with you 7 strategies or tactics you can use to start to change your emotional and mental health. They require different levels of commitment but what they all have in common is that they require commitment. An investment of time.
Try one at a time and try these for at least 28 days straight….maybe more….
Let’s start with the simplest and the easiest to commit to.
If you stop for 5 minutes every day and simply focus on your breathing you will be taking a simple step towards reducing the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in your body. You will be impacting your mental health and your physical health in a positive way.
Sit down, relax your stomach and take a deep breath in and count up to 7.
Breath out slowly and count to 11 if you can.
Try to keep your stomach relaxed and feel it move in and out as you breathe.
5 minutes a day…not too much is it?
A natural next step of breathing practice is practising mindfulness. This may require you to take a lesson with a mindfulness teacher or guide.You could also download one of many free apps out there to start you off. It requires a little more investment each day to develop a mindful practice but it can be worth it in terms of the balance it helps you develop in your life.
The basic point of mindfulness to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. When we are suffering with our mental and emotional health we are often either stuck in the past or fearing the future. We are rarely in the present moment which is the healthy place to be.
If you really get interested in it you could, like I did, book yourself on to a silent retreat. If you want to know how I got on at the retreat go to My Internal World and become a member. Inside that site among many other benefits there are members-only blogs. More on that site later…and an offer for you.
This is part of my personal journey. I have just started yoga classes. I see yoga as the physical embodiment of mindfulness. If you get a really good teacher such as Anisha Badri you get a spiritual; journey as well as a physical one.
One of the benefits of lockdown is it has forced us to workout what we can do from our own homes. Yoga lends itself to zoom technology and if you have any body image issues you can join in without your camera on.
It is relaxing, physically testing and will help with posture, flexibility, core strength and emotional health.
It’s my go to Sunday morning activity now.
I have written (no irony intended) extensively about my encounter and commitment to journaling.
Essentially this is setting time aside a few times a week to write down my feelings, thoughts and to work things out for myself in a written format.
Emptying myself onto the page enables my positive solutions focused mind to surface and get the air time it deserves.
To read more here’s an article I wrote a couple of years ago.
For those that have an instant negative emotional reaction these are not about praying to a higher power for money wealth and good looks to magically transform you.
They are simply a way of starting to challenge and reprogramme negative thought patterns you may have accidentally slipped into .
The one that started me to explore these as a way of emotional adjustment is this
“I believe something wonderful will happen today.”
For it to work really well you need to look in the mirror, make eye contact with yourself and say those words to yourself out loud 5 times. Every morning. Preferably first thing.
Do this for at least 28 days, more like 3 months, and feel the effect on your general air and attitude to life.
What have you got to lose?
Another strategy that is much maligned by those that do not understand it. It is simply a process of creating a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning.
A classic example is to reframe a problem as a challenge.
Now if that seems too simplistic an approach, like most of these strategies it takes time and commitment to develop a habit.
Start off by being aware of when you may be viewing others, yourself or situations negatively. Then, no matter how uncomfortable it feels ask yourself how that could be reframed in a slightly more positive way.
Do that for 28 days and start to feel the effects
My Internal World
If you are ready and prepared to go a little deeper in your exploration and actions then take a look at this interesting site.
I have a personal interest here. I was involved in developing and designing it.
Inside there is a brilliant ( I would say that) assessment that delivers to you a chunky report on 7 areas of your emotional health packed with education and personalised feedback.
Connected to the report is a development area with over 35 videos worksheets and book recommendations to support you in learning the techniques you need to support your own emotional health.
Here’s an offer
As part of World Mental Health day for the month of October My Internal World has a 20% discount on becoming a subscriber. It’s not expensive as it is but 20% off is worth it.
Take a look here and if you choose to join us use this coupon code OCT20.
It can be the best thing you do this year.
Again, everything in it requires commitment of time but believe me it is worth it.
The 5 Pillars of Stress
Finally for the readers out there. Those that prefer to sit down, read and reflect. This link goes to Amazon and there is a short book The 5 Pillars of Stress which is currently at a launch download price of £1.
That’s a small investment to learn the secrets of the 5 Pillars and how to develop a healthy relationship with each one of them.
At the beginning of this article I said it starts with awareness and continues with action. Well if you have read all of this then you are already aware.
It’s up to you now.