Tips for mental wellness
There are things that you can do to improve your general levels of contentment and mental wellness. It may take some practice but it is worth it in the end. The more we learn to manage how we process information and become adept at what we do with that info, the more of a difference we can make to our experience of life.
Work towards psychological flexibility
Psychological flexibility refers to the ability to look at events and experiences in many different ways. It means living life flexibly and being able to adapt when plans change. The more rigid we are about how life should be, and the more rules we have for living (eg. I must keep a clean house at all times, I must attend every social function I am invited to, I should be the strong one all the times..) the more quickly they are broken. When we cannot keep our rules for living in tact, it creates anxiety so it pays to learn to use different language – instead of “must” and “should” use the words “could” or “prefer”. Learn to adapt and be open to many variations and you will inevitably be less stressed. Identify what your rules for living are – they often take the format of: “If this….then that”. For example: If I show others the real me, they will reject me.
When something in life doesn’t go your way, try to find other ways to look at it. We can all find the negatives and feel downtrodden or we can look for an explanation that allows us to feel less stressed. For example: A client of mine recently lost money in a business deal that went awry. He could focus on what went wrong and blame himself and become miserable and stressed or he can choose to look at the situation as a way to learn and also separate what has happened from himself – he isn’t the failure, it’s just that what he tried didn’t work. He could tell himself life is a series of trial and error or he could internalise the mistake and be hard on himself which is unhelpful and doesn’t solve anything.
2. Try mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness means you are in the present moment -taking in your surroundings. You aren’t living ‘in your head’ worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness takes practice but it offers a great release from the anxiety and stress we create in our minds. Practise mindfulness anywhere – become aware of your toes in your shoes – wiggle them about and focus on the sensation. Work your way up through your knees, if you are sitting down, feel your bum in the chair – does it feel heavy? Is the chair comfortable? Can you hear anything? Can you see or taste anything wherever you are? Focus on your immediate surroundings – the more you engage your five senses, the less time your brain has to worry unnecessarily. Mindfulness can also help to counteract anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stresses, spend 5 minutes focusing on your toes, surroundings etc and ask yourself whether, in that moment – are you safe? More often than not you will not be in any immediate danger. Mindfulness breaks the emotional connection and associated fear responses from certain parts of the brain and helps us to ‘reset’.
3. Connect with others
Social anxiety is on the rise and I see many clients who withdraw and isolate themselves from others. When they make the effort and push themselves out of their comfort zones and see others, they find their happiness levels rise – this is due to the release of the long acting hormone oxytocin. Being around other people is ‘where its at’ – much research supports this.
4. Learn to like and accept yourself
Learn to be happy in your own skin. Be your number one fan. Focus on your positive attributes and make sure you give yourself credit for every small triumph (and every large one of course – they all count!). The kinder you are to yourself and the more your treat yourself with, like you would a best friend, the better the energy you give off. Your body language will be different and others will respond to your differently. Really – starting with yourself is key and will have an impact on every area in your life in a positive way.
5. Meaning and Purpose – Goals
We all need meaning and purpose in life. It helps us to feel we are making a difference and that our existence on this planet is for a good reason. When we plod with no goals, purpose or meaning we tend to get stuck and chase unhealthy behaviours. Knows your strengths and weaknesses and make a list of your values. Learn to live in line with your values and create goals in line with these. Be true to yourself and create short and long terms goals to loosely offer structure and purpose to your life. This is important for mental wellness.
The above 5 tips are a great start to improving your life and increasing your resilience and mental wellness. I have found these 5 tips to be extremely useful in my own life and hope you will find this too