I believe mental health week is an important time to raise awareness of important issues including depression and anxiety – but it also annoys me a little bit that we need a dedicate a week to a topic that should be part of what we do in our everyday existence.
The theme of next week’s mental health week celebrations is ‘Value Mental Health’ – I wholeheartedly agree that we not only need to value mental health but cultivate it.
Mental and physical health are so intimately related that it is impossible, and I’d say almost reckless, to imply that there is a clear line where one finishes and the other starts.
So, we know that to be physically fit, we need undertake certain activities, ie. eating good food, drinking (water), sleeping well and exercising regularly to name a few. We could say we do these things, but ultimately, we actually need to ‘do’ them to stay physically healthy, we can’t just say we have! Mental fitness is no different, we need to complete certain practices to cultivate being mentally well. Again, you can say you are grateful and kind to yourself – but unless you truly are, you aren’t helping yourself!!
I was reading an article this week about activities we can ‘do’ to improve our mental health (not just during Mental Health Week but all year around!) – you can read the whole article at http://theweek.com/articles/601157/neuroscience-reveals-4-rituals-that-make-happy , or I have summarised the dot points below – here they are:
- Ask yourself ‘What am I grateful for? – turns out that even if you can’t think of anything, it is the searching that helps to have an antidepressant effect on the brain.
- Label negative feelings – simply giving the feelings a name has been proven to decrease the impact that the emotions have on our state.
- Make that decision – It’s no coincidence that you feel a sigh of relief once you have made a decision, no matter how small it may seem.
- Touch people – not in a creepy way, but research has shown that physical touch increases happiness, eg. application of this tip needs permission, but might include such things as a hug or pat on back or holding hands. See? Not too hard!
So while we need to ‘talk the talk’ and value mental health, we actually have to practice ‘walking the walk’ too!! So, this mental health week, how many of these four tips, or what else can you ‘do’ to improve your own state?
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