The discussion about mental health has never been more open and as a nation it is no longer taboo. We're now starting to see how important it is to take our mental health as seriously as our physical health. It is still early though and there is still plenty of room for improvement; the majority of us know how to exercise our muscles, but do you exercise your mind?
If you want to develop a healthy mind, you need to treat it to a mix of practice and rest, just like you do your muscles. To help you take the next step in your mental fitness journey here are some of our top tips.
Meditation is the perfect way to train your mind. Learning to meditate is all about teaching your mind how to ignore distractions and to focus. The more you practise this skill, the better you will become at it.
An excellent way to learn how to meditate is by using guided meditation. There are loads of options out there for you to try. You can have quick 5 minute meditations, movement-based meditations, mindful or spiritual meditations. Just like with exercise, it’s about finding the one that suits you.
Once you have learnt and practised the tools of meditation, you will be able to apply then in your daily life to deal with stressful situations, to increase your productivity and to help you enjoy each moment as it comes.
2. Digital Detox
There is no denying that our smartphones are amazing. They are convenient and fun and, let’s be honest a little bit addicting. When you have a tool in your hand that can connect you to the world, it provides a lot of temptation which can be difficult to resist and provides a plethora of distractions to try and ignore.
So, try and set some limits about your phone and social media use. Have time carved out where you don’t use your phone. Limit your push notifications to things that matter the most. Try and unplug a little bit more.
If you think this will be a struggle or you need your phone for what you do, then there are tools to help you. For instance, Freedom is an app that lets you block specific apps and even internet access on a schedule during the day. Willpower is finite, and a distraction blocker like this can be an invaluable tool.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Most people do not get enough sleep. Your body needs rest. For a long time, the message from the world was that sleep was for the weak. This is nonsense. Sleep is for vital for everybody. It is when your body and your brain resets and repairs its self.
When you are short on sleep, your brain is less effective. Your reactions slow, you become more forgetful, you typically eat more and your ability to learn new information is severely diminished. So, sleep is not for the weak; it’s for the leaders, the innovators; sleep is important for everybody.
4. Build Habits On Habits
Everyone has heard that we’re creatures of habit. This is one thing that everyone knows that is actually true. The reason for it is that ultimately we’re lazy. We’ve evolved to find the most efficient route through life. Making decisions is hard, and routine reduces the number of choices you need to make.
Most of us have a limit on the number of decisions we can make in a day. Making too many becomes exhausting and we get decision fatigue, which is why we fall into routines and resort to habit, good or bad.
To stop falling into bad habits, stack the deck in your favour. Meal prep for the week ahead, pick your outfit for the next day the night before, leave fruit on the worktop rather than hiding it away.
We all have a natural inclination to create habits, good or bad. Try stacking a new healthy habit on top of an existing one you already have in your routine. For instance, if you want to start meditating like we've touched on above. Why not do it over that coffee you get every morning.
5. Control The Controllable
Not everything that happens to us in life is fair. A lot of it can be stressful and often not our fault. But it is not worth obsessing over everything that affects your life. A handy skill to learn is how to identify what you can control and what you can’t. Once you do this, you act on the controllable aspects of your life. For everything else, you take the time to acknowledge it, but then you move on.
If you want to work on this journaling is a useful tool to help you practise this type of thinking.
There’s a prayer that gets used a lot in things like 12 step programmes, that sums this idea up perfectly.
‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.’.
However, this is a skill you can learn and one that really can make all the difference to your perspective.