It’s not enough for people just be OK with the words mental health. We now need to talk about mental health and what it is, just like we understand our physical health. Neither should be alien to us, after all we all have mental health and physical health.
Mental health muscle
One of the best ways I describe our mental health in talks and with clients is like a muscle. If you wanted to work on your core strength or arm definition you might walk into a gym and sign up. You would talk to a fitness trainer/coach and listen to their advice on which types of exercises will support your outcomes?
The space in the middle of where your current physical health is and your outcome, is your action. So you visit the gym you work the muscle groups and go home. There’s been no change after 3 gym sessions, what do you do? You might realise it will take more consistent commitment to get the results so you carry on. After a few months the gym is a place you like to go, and one day you catch a glimpse of your arm and notice the definition you’ve gained, and achieved your outcome.
Mental health is different in that we can’t see it. We can however feel it and then other people see and feel it. But where do we start?
Your mental health strength
First up it’s your mental health and how you approach it is up to you. Just like your physical health, once you stop visiting the gym or taking the action the muscle loses definition.
With our mental health, when it takes a dip either effecting our anxiety, stress levels to mild depression, depending on the strength of our muscles, will depend on the level of resilience we have – our bounce back.
Not everyone has the same bounce back or resilience, so we can’t compare ourselves or judge others. We just need to be aware of our own mental health strength.
Building mental health muscle
It’s not something many of us were brought up to be aware of, so understanding where to start building up our mental health muscle is still relatively new. It’s also still new to us to think we need to take consistent action to support our mental health.
Find your way
Just like physical exercise we all have our own preference. Some like the gym and classes while others like swimming, cycling or walking.
When it comes to mental health, our physical health is not separate – they both benefit and it becomes a bit of a win, win!
When you’re feeling a dip or a low in your mental health, work is stressy, your anxiety has peaked again and you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning (everyday for a couple of months now) finding something that works for you is where you start.
Here’s just a few things you could look at starting:
Take a short walk each day (either in your lunch break, walking the dog, or after tea)
Breathe deeply 3-5 times morning and night
Take a 20 minute bath in the week
Do some stretches when you wake up
Drink a couple of extra gasses of water each day
Now I could suggest you:
Join a yoga class
Start a gratitude journal
Go on a mind detox retreat
Muscles get over worked
Honestly, when your mental health has taken a dip that’s the time to be gentle with yourself. Just like you would when you were ill or injured or had muscle fatigue, you’d rest, drink plenty of fluids and be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t go out and put pressure on yourself to meet new people and try to empty you’re already overactive mind!
Start with small steps just as you would with your fitness. Building your mental health muscle is a long game with amazing results that last. There are lots of exercises and practices you can learn to develop a lifestyle to support you holistically (mind and body.) Just start where you know you feel you can achieve these small steps. Then when you’ve built up some muscle and confidence, you’ll be soon taking stronger steps.
Emma Lannigan is a Mentor, Coach, Reiki Teacher, Holistic Massage Therapist, Mental Health Campaigner and author of belifehappy. Emma’s mission is to help individuals reconnect, recharge and empower their purpose, passion and energy in their life and business.
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Emma offers 1:1 appointments in her home in Market Deeping, Lincolnshire and also online. In addition, Emma also hosts workshops and online courses. Contact Emma to arrange a discovery call to talk about the next steps for you on your journey.