Positive Mental Health

This week the mental health charity MIND have published the results of their research which shows that half of all employees have suffered with poor mental health and half of those who have suffered with stress, anxiety and low mood are reluctant to discuss it with their employers.

There is still stigma around mental health, particularly in the work place. We fear speaking out and being judged. According to the report, fear, shame and job insecurity are the reasons employees are reluctant to speak out.

In his brilliant book The Whole Brain Child– Daniel Siegal provides an image of mental health as a river: on one bank there is chaos and on the other rigidity. If we veer too close to one bank our mental health is put at risk. This image appeals to me as it suggests that we can take responsibility for creating positive mental health and start to recognise areas in which we are drawn towards the two extremes of chaos and rigidity.

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Image taken from Daniel Siegal The Whole Brain Child

In September and October I’ll be delivering Talk to Your Teen to parents of children and teens about the stigma around mental health and how we can use coaching tools and techniques to improve communication with our children. Boys are particularly vulnerable as they are still consciously and subconsciously given messages such as ‘Big boys don’t cry’, ‘Man up’ etc which mean that when they have a problem it’s very difficult to talk about it. Teach your children it’s ok to express emotion- both positive and negative. Help them to recognise their emotions by naming them. Boys in particular tend to have a very limited range of vocabulary to describe emotions which can limit their self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Talk about your feelings, emotions and mistakes and foster a resilient mindset by encouraging the belief: Mistakes make me stronger. 

We are beginning to realise that we need to look after our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. I like to think of well-being as being like a table with 4 legs. Each of those legs is a supporting pillar. For me those four pillars are:

  • Sleep- we can’t be resilient without sleep. It underpins everything else. See Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep here
  • Exercise outdoors- the release of dopamine, seratonin and endorphins is increased when we exercise outside and we get a dose of Vitamin D which reduces depression.
  • Meditation- I’m a longstanding fan of Headspace. I’ve also heard great things about Calm and a new addition to my morning routine is Tony Robbins’ priming exercise which incorporates gratitude and visualisation too. 
  • Connection- we live in a hyper connected world- which is amazing but sometimes we get overwhelmed and miss the real face to face time with loved ones which we need for our emotional  wellbeing.

The added bonus of course is that many of these things support our physical health!

So what do you need to support your mental health? Is it something you need to give more of your attention?

NB Coaching is not suitable for those suffering with mental health issues. This requires advice from medical professionals who may direct you to other forms of support.

Let it Go!

Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to things and people that stress you out. Thema Davis

At this time of year, the trees are shedding their leaves to make room for new growth in the spring. We need to do the same so where do we start?

Firstly let go of negative relationships. Stop spending your precious time with people who put you down, don’t support you in your dreams or drain your time and energy. Make the choice to walk away and invest your time in people who support you and lift you up. Obviously, I’m not advocating walking away from friends or family members who are going through a hard time. I’m talking about walking away from toxic or one sided relationships that don’t serve you.

Secondly look at the media you’re consuming. Unfollow the whingers and the haters on Facebook. Unsubscribe from the e mail clutter and don’t watch the news just before you go to bed if it leaves you feeling upset and drained. Do we need to engage with what’s going on in the world and contribute as global citizens? Of course. But not just before bed, if that doesn’t work for you.

Let go of stories from the past. I failed that exam so I’ll never be able to… And, while you’re at it, let go of whatever rubbish you picked up from your teachers or parents as a kid- you’re selfish/ lazy/ disorganised. Change that to a new positive belief and start gathering evidence to support it.

We’ve talked before about the inner critic- that little voice that plays inside your head, holding you back and putting you down. Silence that critic right now, and as Tara Mohr, suggests in her brilliant book, Playing Big, get in touch with your inner mentor and let he or her guide you instead.

And finally, responsibilities- make a list of them and identify any you can let go. Where can you lower your standards to make more time for the people and things that really matter?

You have one precious life. Find what no longer serves you and let it go.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you want more of? What are you willing to let go to make space for that?

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