How to Look After Your Mental Health08/06/2022, Mariel Witmond, Yoga Teacher and Life Coach
Have you heard the quote: “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”? Our realities are a reflection of our perspectives; our outer world mirroring what is happening in our inner world. As Eckhart Tolle teaches us, we are not our mind. Yet, without awareness, we allow ourselves to identify with our thoughts.
Our thoughts tend to be the amalgamation of our upbringing, cultural conditioning, and life experiences that have taught us how to see ourselves and in turn how we view the world around us. Our mental health is a state of wellbeing that affects how we think, how we feel and ultimately how we behave. It determines how we make choices and handle challenging situations, which is why looking after our mental health is not a luxury, but a critical necessity. It impacts everyone and should be something we focus on every day, instead of looking after it only in times of need.
Poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways: low energy, inability to eat or sleep, withdrawing oneself, mood swings, struggling to perform daily tasks, and can ultimately impact our physical health. On the other hand, positive mental health helps us achieve our fullest potential and cope with what life throws our way.
So how do we look after our mental health? Here are 8 ways to start:
1. Connect With Who You Truly Are
Getting to know ourselves helps us to separate who we are from how we think. Learning about the parts of our identity can increase our happiness and improve both our self-esteem (which is confidence in our worth) and our self-confidence (which is the belief in our abilities). Low confidence can make it hard for us to express ourselves emotionally and we need to know our feelings in order to know ourselves.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us to disentangle our true selves from our thoughts by creating space for us to see and process. Without learning to quiet the mind and be more present, we live our lives on autopilot, giving little thought to our actions resulting in unwanted repercussions. In Buddhism, it is said that we have six senses – the mind, our inner sense, being the last. In order to be mindful, we need to use all six senses to go within and pay attention to what is happening at this very moment. We create awareness through personal introspection so that we can know ourselves and the nature of our true reality. The more that we can learn to pay attention, the more we are able to become conscious and create meaningful change.
3. Learn To Sit With Discomfort
What we often fail to realise is that comfort and routine can dull our experiences as we tune out what is going on inside. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable (when there is a clear benefit) brings with it an opportunity: to pay attention, learn, and grow. Fear lives where the unpleasant happens, which is why we often remain stuck within the confines of our comfort zone. However, embracing temporary discomfort can increase our long-term comfort zone; the more we experience the more secure we become as and when difficult situations arise. It teaches us to face our fears and embrace imperfection.
4. Ask For Help
Many of us struggle to ask for help. We don’t want to be an imposition or we feel we should be able to cope on our own. Asking others for help not only helps to build connections, but it allows others to feel valued and appreciated for sharing their skills or advice. It also provides you with a different perspective and the possibility of new ideas, while helping to quiet our ego-driven thoughts.
5. Talk About Your Feelings
We cannot heal what we shy away from. It is really crucial for us to acknowledge the importance of sitting with our feelings as well as recognising that it is ok to feel however we feel. Have you noticed how the things that are troublesome for us externally, are usually related to things that are happening to us internally? Where we feel the emotion we can often find the wound. Talking to someone about what you are going through can help you tune in to what you are feeling and help you to process those emotions.
6. Exercise And Eat Well
As previously mentioned, our mental health can impact our physical health, but the same can be said in reverse. The foods we eat can impact our mood, as can moving (or not moving) our body. Staying physically active can increase the release of endorphins, which make us feel good - and when we feel good, it is easier for us to respond to things in a positive way. It can also help our self-esteem, reduce stress and increase our energy levels. Equally, having a healthy diet can improve the way we feel from the inside out.
7. Reframe Unhealthy Thoughts
Through mindfulness, we can start to pay more attention to our thoughts and question the negative ones we have. By challenging the validity of our thoughts, we can then choose to reframe them into something more positive.
8. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep has been attributed in many studies as one of the most important pillars of mental health. But it’s not just the quantity you get, but rather the quality of your sleep that matters most. We need sleep to recharge so that our brain can function properly and we can be in the right state of mind to tackle the day ahead.
We move through life finding experiences that match our beliefs – our inner world painting our outer experience. The thoughts that fill our heads hold the real power. They can lift us up, or drag us down. We need to learn to believe in ourselves; to unlearn the things that have held us back. It takes work to change our beliefs, but it is possible. We can change our stories to serve our greater good, but first, we need to challenge the ones that have been holding us back most of our lives. This means prioritising ourselves and the things that will positively impact our wellbeing (such as those outlined above).
The more we can collectively talk about mental health, the more awareness we can encourage as we help one another on our journeys through self-discovery and healing. Our mental health is vitally important to our quality of life so let’s embrace these healthy behaviours and maintain our mental wellbeing on a daily basis. The onus is on us.
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|About The Author|
Half English, half Mexican (with an American accent), Mariel grew up as a citizen of the world - having lived in 7 different countries and three US states. For 11 years Mariel worked in entertainment, representing models at FORD NY and then LA, and launching Casting Newtorks, Inc. across Europe and South Africa. Leaving behind her high powered and high-stress corporate job that left her unfulfilled and unhappy, she achieved her long-time dream of becoming a yoga teacher in the hopes of sharing with others the countless ways it has positively impacted her life. Mariel shares a passion for life coaching and nutrition that together with yoga became the pillars for her business Mindful Sonder - a holistic approach to wellbeing.