“Oh, you have anxiety? You know that’s all in your head, right?”
“Stop stressing over nothing.”
“Why are you feeling depressed? Just watch a cat video and you’ll be fine.”
“You rolled your ankle? You should go see a physio.”
“Have you tried speaking to a nutritionist about your weight gain?”
“Get yourself a good PT, they’ll show you how to exercise for your body type.”
The World Health Organisation defines health as, “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being...” Physical, mental and social. There’s three elements to health, yet we only know how to properly respond to one – physical health.
As we can see, there’s a pretty massive difference between how people react to mental health issues as opposed to physical health issues. But, I don’t think it’s their fault they react poorly. It’s just the way most of us have been brought up. We tend to:
a) believe that mental health isn’t to be discussed. It’s taboo.
b) have no idea how to respond when the topic arises. What do you say when you simply don’t understand?
c) have a total misunderstanding of exactly who can help with mental health issues.
I think the biggest problem here is a total lack of education.
You break a bone, you go to the hospital, you get x-rays and a cast, you take it easy for a few weeks, you attend a follow-up appointment with your doctor, your insurance or bulk-billing probably pays for it, and for the next 6 weeks everyone asks how you are and how healing is coming along.
You learn that kind of thing in primary school, right?
You experience anxiety attacks, you go to a doctor. Or a psychiatrist? Or a psychologist? A psychotherapist? What’s the difference? Maybe they prescribe prescription drugs that send you down a slippery slope to side-effect city. I don’t want that! Maybe the doctor brushes you off completely. Maybe you get a referral to Psychologist, but OH GOD how much will that cost? Anxiety increases.
Taking action for mental health issues is like diving into the great unknown at a time where safety and security is paramount.
Which is why, I’d like to focus on prevention.
Ask yourself – “what’s my physical fitness routine?”
You're probably listing off things like the prescribed 30 minutes of activity per day, gym 4 times a week, yoga for 20 minutes every morning after you wake up, long coastal walks on the weekend, etc. and that's excellent!
Now, ask yourself – “what’s my mental fitness routine?”
Yes, mental fitness. Because working on your mind every day is just as important as working on your body. Mental health doesn’t just happen. Just like a ‘bikini body’ doesn’t just happen. And a 6-pack doesn’t just happen.
Why is it expected that you have to work on your physical body every day, but not your mind? Is it because your body is out there for the world to see? Yet, it’s your mind that makes you who you are.
Since when did having big biceps, a flat stomach and a peachy butt become MORE important than feeling emotionally secure, experiencing more happiness, and making positive choices?
Don’t get me wrong, physical health is absolutely integral to overall wellbeing and I strongly encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. But, I want you to realise that daily mental health exercises are just as important!
Screw the taboo and create a mental health routine that you can take complete ownership of. Be proud of it. Work your mind like you work your body.
There are so many things you can do.
Get yourself a journal and write. Write about a problem you’re having, write about what’s great in your life, write down goals, write down ideas, write about your crazy dreams. Anything! It really helps to get whatever is cluttering your mind down on paper. You can analyse it better. Get rid of the old and make space for the new.
Create a gratitude practice. Write down 5 new things to be grateful for every day. Find things to be grateful for as you drive to work. Say ‘thank you’ as you go throughout your day – thank you for the invention of cars, the toaster, running water, your partner, the weather, that gorgeous flower that you walked past, the hilarious work colleague. Anything and everything.
Download an app or some guided meditations to start with. Take some time out of every morning and/or afternoon to sit, breathe, and be still. Meditate while you’re out for a run or at the gym – using your breath and focus as your practice.
To get started:
Sit in stillness for a few minutes a day and become aware of everything around you. Ignite your 5 senses – smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Really taste that first sip of coffee. Smell those flowers when you walk past them. Touch the fluffy cushion. Hear the birds chirping. See all the smiles around you. You can be mindful anytime, anywhere.
Fun fact: More than 80% of the billionaires, icons, and world-class performers that New York Times Best-Selling Author, Tim Ferriss, has interviewed, use some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice. (Tools Of Titans, by Tim Ferriss).
Physically schedule into your day something that recharges your batteries. Reading, taking a bubble bath, calling a friend, drawing, dancing, walking the dog, yoga, baking, laughing – anything that makes you feel good.
Listen to a podcast that educates and inspires you. Read every day about something that interests you. Enrol in a new class. Never stop learning or putting your mind to good use.
Podcasts I love:
The Melissa Ambrosini Show (Melissa Ambrosini)
The School of Greatness (Lewis Howes)
Addicted2Success (Joel Brown)
Earn Your Happy (Lori Harder)
The Tim Ferriss Show (Tim Ferriss)
Get help from a life coach, get help by talking to a friend, or get help by seeing a psychologist. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to help get you back on the right track. The more we talk about how we’re feeling, the more normal and accepted it’ll become. Sometimes it’s up to us to show others the way.
Now, create your mental fitness routine just as you would your physical fitness routine. Let’s aim for 30 minutes a day as a minimum. Here’s one way you could do it:
7am: Wake up.
7am - 7:10am: Journal my thoughts.
7:10am – 7:20am: Meditate using the Smiling Mind app.
7:20am - 7:30am: Think of 5 things to be super grateful for while I shower.
12:30pm – 1pm: Be mindful while eating lunch. Sit outside for some Vitamin D and find the beautiful things around me.
5pm – 5.30pm: Listen to one of my favourite Podcasts on the way home from work.
8pm – 8.30pm: Have a lovely bubble bath and read my novel.
As you can see, it’s not hard to get at least half an hour into your day. The trick is, PRIORITISING IT. If you don’t prioritise your mental health like you do your physical health, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Break out of the box and start making mental health a priority. Be the example within your family and work on prevention being the best cure.
Put time into you. You absolutely are worthy of it.
Love & Happiness
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
The next step:
Commit to being the change, and get started on my IHH 10 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Sign up now to receive your FREE copy. I made it especially for you :) (and not once did I let Adobe InDesign beat me! Ok, maybe once…)
From here, get involved in my whole-family approach and register your interest for the IHH Weekly Workshops ONLINE (for adults) and the in-person, Interactive IHH Weekly Workshops (for kids). Both programs launching early 2017! Note: Registering your interest does NOT lock you in to anything – it simply lets me know that people want to make a change, and gives me an idea of when and how I need to make it happen.
#wellness #youth #mentalhealth #wellbeing #happiness #gratitude #positiveeducation #positivity #love #health #kids #mum #dad #children #child #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #childdepression #adolescent #meditation #visualization #visualisation #lifecoach #bestlife #knowyourself #discover #loveyourself #create