We often treat our physical health differently to the health of our minds.
We exercise our bodies and know when we have eaten too much and try to cut back. We feel tired and get an early night or we may feel a cold or the flu coming on and get the remedies out.
However; if you are feeling ‘out of sorts’, stressed, anxious or in a low mood more often than not, we tend to hide it, dismiss it and think it will just go away by itself.
It is not just the treatment of illness that is different but the prevention of it too. We try to prevent physical illness from happening every day. We use hand sanitiser and soap and hot water (my friend carries hand sanitiser in her bag because of watching a report on the poo particles found on touchscreens in shops! Last time we were out she started shouting at me to ‘rub this on your hands, I can’t believe you touched that!’). We are told not to smoke, eat the wrong food or drink too much alcohol. We are careful on the ice in these colder months so as not to break a bone by falling over. All these things we do, mostly without thinking in order to prevent a physical illness or injury.
But what do you do in order to prevent anxiety, depression or burnout? Do your friends shout at you from across a shop ‘will that be good for your mental wellbeing?’ like they would about touching a screen with possible poo particles on it!
Preventing mental ill health is just as important as preventing a physical illness or injury. When we feel in higher spirits and have a good grounding of wellbeing, we are more able to bounce back from adversity. This is known as resilience. We can use skills and tools from psychological research to help us build our wellbeing which in turn builds our resilience.
Here are a couple of ideas to boost your wellbeing….
Find meaning in your life: Try to serve a greater purpose by using your strengths to bring more love, compassion and generosity to those around you. Try giving your time to a cause that you are passionate about or to your community.
Have hope for the future and be optimistic about what will happen next: We often catastrophise, creating the worst-case scenarios for our decisions and the events in our lives. Try creating a best-case scenario too. Be as optimistic as you can. Even if the things you come up with are wildly exaggerated and unlikely to happen. They are probably just as likely as the worst-case scenario you create too! This breaks our negative thinking. If a worst-case only has a 1 in a million chance of happening, then so does your best case.
Give them a try and see if you can add more and more preventative tools to your daily life. Make 2019 the year you can say, YES, I am treating my mental health as important as my physical health.