Mental health is a hot topic these days. It feels like everyone is talking about it. But talking isn’t enough. If we want to overhaul our mental health… we need to DO!
As a mental health worker I am often expected to wave a magic wand and fix everyone’s problems. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to. But I can’t. I can’t because I’m no magician but also, I can’t because it would be futile. When you don’t do the work yourself you just don’t get the rewards.
True, lasting change takes INVESTMENT in self and COMMITMENT to self. It means temporarily getting uncomfortable so that being comfortable becomes your norm going forward.
So many people know they feel less than healthy. Their heart hurts and their brain is completely overwhelmed. They want to get better but they just don’t know how.
Below you’ll find 5 LIFE CHANGING TIPS to kick start your journey to better mental health. Start with the first or start with the last. But just START!
Stop comparing yourself to other people
This would have to be the NUMBER ONE way to bring on poor mental health. Without any shadow of a doubt. When you compare your life to others you are effectively self sabotaging. You completely ignore all the good that you HAVE, DO and OFFER. You effectively put blinkers on and see nothing but what you DON’T have. But the truth is… often what we see in others, in real life and online, is not even remotely close to their reality. We see the ‘poker face’ that everyone wears or we see the highlight reel on Instagram. The fact is you shouldn’t be comparing 100% of your life to 10% of someone else’s. You know that old saying “The grass is always greener”? It’s bullshit. Often the grass is FAKE! Never forget that.
Simplify your life
Lower your expectations, get support on board, cut corners where it’s appropriate to, decrease clutter (physical and emotional!), work hours that suit YOU and your family, create realistic goals, eliminate toxic people from your life, let go of things you can’t change or that are completely out of your control, get organised, make sacrifices, learn to say no, set boundaries.
There are so many ways to strip back and simplify our lives, we just need to … DO IT! Start small and sit back and watch what changes and really notice how it feels. How it improves your life. It might take a while to push through blocks and stick to new ways of doing things but change and improvement doesn’t come from staying comfortable. Remember that replacing old habits with new, healthier habits, takes effort. Give yourself a chance.
Get off the stress express
A little bit of stress is good for us. Did you know that? When controlled and used for good, stress motivates us and helps us get stuff done. In short bursts it helps use rise to the challenges of everyday life. Getting to work on time, ensuring we have enough money in the bank, keeping ourselves safe or handing an assignment in on time.
But, excessive stress kills people. It’s as simple as that. It’s a modern day epidemic. What starts as frustration, worry, overwhelm or anger rapidly gets worse without intervention. When you’re stressed you can’t do much properly… thinking, working, sleeping, interacting with people… and more.
Prolonged exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can bring on;
…high blood pressure or heart disease leading to heart attack, obesity, diabetes, missed periods, weakened immunity, headaches, increased depression, fertility problems, issues with intimacy, stomach and digestive issues and more. More than that… chronic stress interferes with healthy brain functioning which leads to decreased memory capacity and restricted problem solving ability.
Did you know that cortisol can even access EVERY SINGLE CELL IN YOUR BODY? Unlike most other chemical messengers in our body that cannot penetrate cell membranes, cortisol slips straight on through. It can switch on and off your genes therefore altering your DNA and laying the foundation for all sorts of undesirable health outcomes.
If you feel stressed…. STOP. RELAX. REASSES. But what do I reassess you ask? EVERYTHING! Work, family, friends, money, health… anything that is contributing to the stress. Look after yourself by investing time into making things better. NOTHING is more important than your health so you owe it to yourself to pull back. If you feel like you can’t get on top of it get help on board asap!
Live in the present
Letting go of self sabotaging emotions such as guilt, shame, regret or worry is a HUGE step forward to living in the present. Acceptance of what was and what is brings new levels of peace and freedom from psychological torture and when we forgive and show ourselves grace, we are giving ourselves permission to live comfortably. If you’re trying to let go of past mistakes or poor choices ask yourself this question… “What is the lesson?” Dig deep. Look for the lessons you can take away to inspire a better life right now. By living in the present we give ourselves the beautiful gift of right now. Today. A day which many others will never get the pleasure of living. Remember that. Every day that you’re alive is a GIFT to be enjoyed. Sure, some days will be better than others but the bad ones help us to love the good ones more… yes?
Come back to gratitude
I’m sure some people think I’m a bit over the top with this one, I harp on about it all the time. But hey, when a mental health worker harps on about some new skill or tool… you can rest assured it’s GOOD! I credit practicing gratitude (or giving thanks) with bringing me back from some of my darkest days a few years ago. I was in the midst of losing everything in my divorce but somehow this intense period of loss made me appreciate, so deeply, all that remained.
Hot water for a shower of a night, fresh food on the table, clothing to wear, music to enjoy, nature to experience and fun to be had. I expressed my gratitude internally through affirmations but I also got a gratitude diary and wrote down a few things each night that I was grateful for.
Gratitude increases optimism and greater optimism equals a greater sense of overall happiness. It helps you sleep better and it wards off depression. Giving thanks also encourages your brain to produce dopamine, the chemical that gives you a sense of ‘more more more more!!!’. More dopamine means you’ll do the thing you did that gave you that natural high… MORE! Your brain is wired such that it looks for examples to prove what it suspects to be true so when you practice gratitude your brain keeps looking for more things to be grateful for! See the cycle you start?
If you want to overhaul your mental health you have to be brave and just start, with or without support. Embrace the fear and do it anyway because time will pass regardless… why not do something with it? Something that will improve not only your life but the lives of all those around you. Something that will add not only quality but also YEARS to your life!
To wrap it up, I want to leave you with one of my all-time favourite quote (anyone who follows me knows I am a quote addict!)…
“You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward… just take the next step”.
If you would like support I’m here for you! Good and bad. I’m here for you. Let’s guide you to better days.. it would be my absolute pleasure.
Reach out to me here!