Protecting Your Mental Health: Tips and Strategies for Self-Care
Guest Post: Martion Prior about practical tips for taking control of your mental health
Today I’ve got a guest post for you fromof the excellent free weekly newsletter .
Never Stop Learning is a great newsletter about inspiration, growth mindset, and mental health. I’ve been enjoying Martin’s work very much and it’s a pleasure to share one of his newsletters with all of you!
Here's Martin’s newsletter about practical tips for taking control of your mental health. I hope you’ll enjoy it and find it valuable!
Guarding your mental health
For my big read of this week I have finally been consuming Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before by Dr Julie Smith that I was given just under a year ago. I know, why didn’t I read it earlier! There are some great practical tips in here that can really help you maintain your mental health as well as help you get out of a hole if you get there.
While reading it I noted down some of the key themes that I think everyone can find useful and added my own experience into the mix. Check these out…
1. Build a good defence
There are five areas where you can focus to give your mental health the right platform.
This may sound such a simple list but if you start to let one go you can quickly find yourself on a slippery path where some of the others start to fall away too. As you start to think these through you start to realise they are all interlinked.
Together they form your first line of defence for your mental health. Some of them will be more important to some people than others but all play some role for most people.
For me, if I don’t go for a run I find it difficult to relax before bed and then struggle to sleep. Sleep for me is an absolute non-negotiable. I’m a mess without it. Without sleep I start to withdraw from social situations and I start to get very grumpy. Chocolate is my pick me up. And so you can see how it goes on….
2. Get some distance
There are tricks we can play to ensure our thoughts do not define and become us. Mindfulness is a great way to start and practice observing your thoughts as something separate from you.
Mo Gawdat, the former CEO of Google X and author of “Solve for Happiness” has even given his brain a name….Becky! This has helped him see his thoughts and his brain as separate from him. I love that. Why Becky? Who knows, but it works for him.
This can help with ensuring that we are not defined by our thoughts. They are simply passing by and we can actively observe them come and go.
3. Don’t kick yourself when you’re down
This is about creating a positive narrative in our heads. We talk to ourselves all the time. In fact, no one talks to us more than we talk to ourselves. So, make sure the message you send yourself is a positive one!
This is probably the point I’m weakest at. I know I can be hard on myself and always think things are my fault when really when you step back that is ridiculous most of the time. With practice I know I can train myself to have a more positive voice talking to me.
4. Gratitude practice
It can be really cringeworthy to begin this one but if you start the day writing down three things you are truly grateful for in your life you will find everything else that is thrown at you during the day will be on a much sounder base.
Again, this one can take time to perfect and it’s ok to say the same things each day. As with the positive voice in your head, you are creating good vibes that will carry you through the day.
5. Take some action
When we’re feeling down, and we’ve all been there, we sometimes don’t even want to move from the sofa. Our procrastination setting is on HIGH. The small amount of discomfort that we will experience from doing a task feels insurmountable. It can be severely debilitating in certain circumstances.
I’m not saying this will work in all circumstances but for those days when were are down and getting some energy to go and do that run or whatever just feels too much the key is to create a smaller step.
So, it’s not “go for a 6 mile run”, it becomes “stand up and do some stretches” or “just walk around the garden” or even “just walk to the kitchen”.
Getting yourself moving creates momentum which creates motivation. Often, motivation doesn’t come to us. We have to initiate. Annoying as that is.
I think these points will be useful. They have been a great starting point for me to begin to build those good habits that I know will help long term.
I believe these five areas are a great start to building and maintaining your mental health. Give them a try and let us know what you think.
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Thanks for sharing Jani