I don’t know anyone whose mental health hasn’t been challenged this year.
Even if you haven’t been impacted directly, it’s hard to escape the collective uncertainty.
Mental wellbeing isn’t something that’s always in abundant supply – but it can be cultivated with our daily habits.
I liken mental health to a bank account. If I make deposits in the good times, I will have something to draw on in the tough times.
Making regular deposits into our mental health bank
But the problem is that many of us have been living on ‘credit’ and have nothing to draw on when times are tough. We only consider our mental health when we’re stressed and at our wit’s end.
I don’t know about you my friend, but my mental health is my most prized possession. And it’s something I invest in daily. Going to one yoga class or meditating once is great, but we need to keep our balance up to avoid going in to ‘debt’.
The trick to building up our reserves is small daily deposits. Sure it’s awesome to go on holidays once a year, but that serves to pay off our mental health debt. Far more effective are small daily deposits that compound over time. $1 per day is better than $365 at the end of the year with compound interest.
Some days I deposit $100, other days five cents is all I have. But each day I put something in.
- Exercise daily- moving our body helps to discharge nervous tension, boosts our energy and mood.
- Learn how your breath can calm your nerves. Learn how to belly breathe and make your exhales twice as long as your inhales.
- Think of 3 things you’re grateful for – practising gratitude is like changing mental gears. It switches us out of overthinking and boosts our mood.
- Say No to things you don’t want to do – when we say yes to things we don’t want to do it creates tension, resentment and bitterness. If we keep saying yes to please others, our body will teach us to say no with tension, fatigue and illness. People-pleasing is a bad habit and diminishes our mental wellbeing.
- Develop and uphold healthy boundaries. Boundaries are a cornerstone of mental and emotional wellbeing. Upholding our boundaries protects our energy and gives us greater control and agency over our lives which is essential in times of stress. The people I know who struggle the most with their mental health also have poor or non-existent boundaries.
- Connect with people on a deeper level rather than pretending to be fine. Being honest and vulnerable with loved ones is not just a sign of strength; it actually deepens our relationships.
- Connect with your thoughts and feelings through journaling or meditation. We can run from uncomfortable feelings, but we can’t hide. Eventually, they catch up with us. We may think that if we ignore our problems, they’ll go away. But if we bury worries and anxieties in our consciousness, they continue to affect us and bring more tension and anxiety. Mindfulness and awareness of our thoughts and feelings is a key skill to develop mental resilience and distress tolerance.
- Learn to express your emotions – whatever we don’t express ends up stored in the body as muscle tension and anxiety. Find a healthy outlet for anger, sadness, disappointment, guilt rather than bottling them up.
- Get enough sleep. Healthy sleep is a pillar of mental health. When we experience insomnia, it’s our brain’s way of telling us we haven’t dealt with our thoughts and emotions of the day.
- Seek support if you need it. Pretending we’re fine and ignoring our mental health is just as outdated as fax machines, video stores and compact discs. Most successful people I know have a coach and have been to therapy. Life is easier when we invest in and value our mental health. We can’t think our way better, we need strategies, tools and support.
- Become aware that the foods we eat can affect our mental health. Talk to a pro to learn about the effects of diet on mental health.
So how are you really doing my friend?
Leave a comment below to let me know. Replying to a stranger on the internet can be cathartic as we put words to our inner experience. Plus I may have some tips or insights to share with you.