You are not alone. If you feel like your emotions have been shifting. If you feel you might be flowing through periods of depression or anxiety. You are not alone.
The 21st century has changed the way we live our lives in so many ways, not to mention the current hardships many of us are facing. While many of these changes are incredibly positive, we can’t escape the fact that life has sped up and the pressures and demands put upon us have also increased at an exponential rate. It is no surprise then that one in three adults in the UK will experience an episode of depression during their lifetime.
Mental Health is, thankfully, becoming something that is being addressed more openly. Having carried so much stigma in the past, we can, on the whole, be open and honest about our mental health without worrying that we will be cast aside or judged. While there are many ways in which we can treat mental health problems – with many types of counseling, medication and support networks available – prevention is always better than a cure.
So how can we look after our mental health BEFORE it feels overwhelming?
What can we do to rebalance?
There are many options in my tool kit, but one I always return to is Positive Psychology. Now, I know that positive psychology can get a bad wrap – so I want to address that first. While the concept IS to focus on the positive, we cannot ignore the negative either. Positive Psychology is an approach that asks us to reframe our thoughts, and there is solid evidence to show that is works. It aims at enhancing mental health and raising levels of happiness – and indirectly, this then helps to reduce symptoms of mental distress.
Our happiness relies on finding that perfect balance between pleasure, life purpose, and engagement with the world. We seek the feel-good factors – the positive emotions and energies – but they can often be short-lived. Positive Psychology helps us to hold onto those short-lived feelings, and see that even when those experiences have passed, that we can still FEEL those positive emotions. We can make those moments more sustainable if we reframe and look at how they connect with our life’s purpose, with those positive engagements in our life – whether that’s work, relationships, or activities.
Take a look at your own life now. The last 24hours, the last week. How did you spend your time?
What activities did you do? How do they fall into those three categories: pleasure, life purpose, engagement? What is the balance between the three?
Looking at your list, take a moment to decide if the balance is what you would hope it would be. If it’s not, then what changes could you make to come back to centre?
These actions to return don’t need to be big grand gestures – yes, sometimes there are bigger issues and leaving your job or relationship may truly be the right thing for you in the long term. But equally, if you carved out an hour of time for yourself to meditation and slow down, could that reduce the anxiety around work and make it more pleasurable? Often those little things make a big difference to our day to day existence.
Take a look at the ideas below and pick one to carry forwards this week. See how a small change can create big waves!
Start a gratitude diary – at the end of each day, write down three things which you are grateful for. Some days this will be easy, others less so. Taking a pause to think about the wonderful things in your life is incredibly healing.
Move your body
Movement gets the endorphins flowing! Sometimes it can feel like a super-human feat to get up and out of bed, I know, I’ve been there, but it is ALWAYS better. Even if you’ve moved from the bed to the sofa – it’s going to get the endorphins moving – those feel-good hormones that help lift our mood naturally. So next time you’re feeling in a bit of a funk, grab your shoes, get out of the house for a few minutes and move your body. Dance in the kitchen to your favourite song – allow your inner child to rise and just ENJOY. Notice how your mood begins to shift.
Music hold so much power – it can lift us up or bring us down. Calm the soul or light the fire in our bellies.
So choose your favourite song, crank up the volume and SING – it doesn’t matter what you think of your voice, let that shit go – just RELEASE. Allow the vibrations to move through your body and enjoy the moment.
At the moment, connection is more difficult and more important than ever. Think about who you are surrounding yourself with – who do you connect with the most? Who lifts you the most? As a community, we mirror the mood of those around us. So lifting our mood will also lift the mood of others around us. So if you’re feeling low, reach out – reach out to someone who lifts instead of drains. Someone who can hold space for you when you need it, who you can laugh with and share tales. While we may be physically isolated at the moment, and while technology is by no means a replacement for a cuppa and a catchup, is does mean we don’t have to be so emotionally isolated. So stash up all those hugs (man I have SO many to give out, post-lockdown there will be NO escaping my hugs!!) and keep reaching out – drop a voice message, send a text, video chat with family and friends.
If anyone is struggling right now and needs a friendly ear, please reach out. You are not alone. Message me, join The Soul Space Tribe, connect and be held.
If you are looking for more support, as a qualified life coach and positive psychology practitioner, I would love to hold space for you. Get in touch for a chat to see if some coaching support is the right option for you.