Mental health, emotional wellbeing & personal development

Mental health maintenance kit

Mental health maintenance kit
Life is so challenging and day to day challenges can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. I have created a mental health maintenance kit to help maintain emotional wellbeing. It’s a quick and easy way to keep yourself balanced and can assist in coping with stress and anxiety.
This mental health maintenance kit has been created after doing research on what works and many of my clients have reported that this has helped them to overcome difficult times in life. Of course it can’t solve everything but it’s a great checklist to remind you of positive things you can do each day to keep yourself on the straight and narrow,
I use it daily and try my best to make sure I have used each one of the seven strategies to help me deal with life, especially when I feel vulnerable or know that my thinking is ‘off’. When we feel especially emotional about something, our thinking can be affected by these intense emotions and this is when we should accept that our thinking may not be accurate.
When we’re emotional and in a vulnerable place it’s a good time to implement the mental health maintenance kit too, it can be used as a preventative measure or to help us during tough times:
In short, the mental health maintenance kit is based on the acronym: IMAGINE
I = “I” for self care
M = Mindfulness
A = Acceptance
G = Gratitude
I = Interaction
N = Nurture fun/playfulness
E = Explore

I – “I” = Self Care

It’s a good idea to engage in self care daily. Looking after yourself involves many different things. Some are basic such as brushing your teeth and showering. Other forms of self care: hand creams, face creams, moisturiser, getting a massage, going to the hairdresser etc. Try to improve on self care over time. If you currently can only manage to brush your teeth, then try to brush teeth and shower. If your basic hygiene needs are met, perhaps put body cream on or a face mask. Prioritise self care as it does wonders for emotional well being and has many psychological benefits.
Examples of self care: getting your hair done, going for a massage, any forms of self improvement, eating a healthy diet, exercising.

M = Mindfulness

Several times a day, it’s good to practise mindfulness. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes each time, try to focus on the present moment. Focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Being mindful takes our focus away from our worries about the past or the future and gives our minds a well needed rest.
Good examples: a meal with a friend, watching television, playing with your children, meditation

A = Acceptance

Ask yourself if there is anything that you are resisting when you need to accept it? Are there things out of your control that you fight against? Acceptance can take a lot of strain off us. Resistance can lead to unnecessary anxiety and/or depression. Regularly look at your life and learn to accept the way it is at the moment. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to want things to change but acceptance frees up our energy to focus on what can influence and change.

Example: I went througha breakup a while back and found it hard to accept. I kept resisitng and hoping we would get back together. Once I accepted the status quo I healed much quicker and was able to move on.

Ask yurself: What am I fighting against that I actually have no control over? Accepting what is can be very liberating.

G = Gratitude

It’s easy to focus on what isn’t right in our lives. The grass can seem greener on the other side and it’s common to want what we don’t have. It’s a great mental skill to practise gratitude as it can instantly help us to feel happier.

Think about what is good in your life, no matter how small. Some people even keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.

Our default seems to be quite negative and it’s a good strategy to remind us that things aren’t always that bad.

Each day focus on what went well – it could be something as simple as the fact that the sun is shining. We activate different neuarl pathways in our brains when we focus on what is good and this leads to longer lasting levels of satisfaction over time.

I = Interaction

Spending time with others can often bring us the most joy. Being with others releases the feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. Being with others helps us to feel connected and involved. If you find you are avoiding others, it’s important to figure out why. Of course we all need time out but if you systematically avoid people, you are missing out on many happy opportunities.

N = Nurture fun/playfulness

Make time to be silly in life. Laugh often and always maintain a sense of humour. We often take life too seriously and seeing the funny side can lessen the emotional impact if it’s negative. Watch comedies, play games, go skiing, do things that make you smile.

Get in touch with your fun childlike side again.

E = Explore

This involves looking a little deeper into your patterns of behaviour. Identify what your ‘mental diet’ is – that is, what thoughts are you ‘feeding’ yourself? The thoughts we accept and ‘buy into’ will affect our quality of life. Are there any unhelpful thoughts leading you off course – such as mind reading, catastrophising or being self critical? (see the list of unhelpful thinking). If you struggle to understand your behaviour and find that it is causing you issues, Cognitive behavioural therapy could help you uncover deeper issues.

 

Mandy X

Copyright mandy kloppers/thoughtsonlifeandlove 2019