We all go through tough times in our lives. It may be work, relationships, kids, financial or a dozen other things from today’s lifestyle. None of us are immune to this and despite our outward appearance we all deal with our tough times.
I feel extremely privileged to have the job I do where I get quite a special and unique insight into people's worlds. With my focus being on our "4 pillars" the area of stress is a common theme that comes to the forefront for us to tackle. In our 1 to 1s or friendly casual chats I am continually amazed at people’s strength to open up and admit troubles they are facing in their lives. Even just the act of talking about it for the first time can be a massive step which I am lucky to be part of.
Even recently I have nothing but admiration for the Galway Waterways Patrol who give their weekends to help tackle a huge ongoing issue here in our wonderful city. I feel their work has really highlighted the extent of today’s problems.
Below I have listed 5 proactive steps to help improve your mental health, all of which I have implemented in my own life.
Now before you roll your eyes and think this is for hippies and you have no time for this, let’s make it practical. I’m not expecting you light candles and start chanting (but if this works for you go for it!) but simply taking 10 minutes of your day for meditation can make a huge difference to you.
This doesn’t have to be a long dragged out procedure lasting an hour or more. It’s as simple as sticking in your ear phones and making 10 minutes for yourself. And yes we all have 10 minutes for ourselves, if it means missing the start of some crappy TV program who cares!
Pop onto Youtube and pick one of the many 10 minute guided meditations or download the app Take a Break, find a quite place, put in your earphones and breathe!
There is LOADS of research on the benefits of meditation so don’t just take my word for it!
5 Minute Journal
This is a simple little routine that takes no time at all. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of today’s life and rushing from task to task often makes us miss the simple things in life.
It’s the little moments that make life.
Get yourself a copy or little notebook and at the start of the day write down 3 things you are grateful for. This could be something your partner said, something your kids done, your dog, the sun, whatever you feel grateful for that day. We all have something that if it was gone tomorrow we would miss, be grateful for it today.
A quick example of my one from this morning is my little 3 year old popping into my bed at 3am and snuggling in under me and us both drifting off to sleep again. This is something I’ll miss someday so I’m grateful for it now.
After this list 1-3 tasks you would like to complete that day. Nothing feels as good as ticking off a to-do list! Plus it gives you a few main goals to focus on for the day. Focus is important.
At the end of the day take another few minutes to list 3 more things you are grateful for, list 1 good thing that happened to you today and 1 thing you learned or could have done better. It’s always good to reflect on the day and what we could have done better. Should I have kept my cool better, could I have taken more time with the kids, was I too busy on my phone when someone was talking to me? Each day we’ll learn something new about ourselves
So a quick overview:
- 3 things you are grateful for
- 1-3 tasks for the day
- 3 things you are grateful for
- Something good that happened from the day
- Something you learned
Take Time For You
So many people give huge amounts of time and energy to others without taking time for themselves. If you don’t look after yourself who will? Take a little bit of time, even once a week to do something for yourself that you enjoy.
Take a bath, sit and read a book you love, head for a coffee and people watch (one of my wife’s favourites!), whatever it is you enjoy go do it and make it a priority. Sometimes the world can just wait!
Today I’m heading into the Connacht game for myself. After a good weeks work I’m switching off and hopefully watching Connacht book their place in the final. It’s my time and I’ll enjoy it. This won’t involve pints or turn into a night of madness, just switching off watching the game I love.
What will you do?
Limit TV and News
One of my favourite Tony Robbins quotes is “What you feed your mind on a daily basis creates your experience of life” and this is one of his that has impacted me the most.
Constantly watching negative news or mind numbing TV isn’t feeding our minds what we need. If all day long we are bombarded with negative images and stories what sort of way is this to feed our minds?
Who really cares what the latest celeb wore onto the beach and did she jiggle or not. Who cares if Kim lost 15lbs. Who really cares if Justin got a new tattoo?
Once I cut all this negative influence out of my life and took more control in feeding my mind more positive information, it had a huge positive effect on my life. I’m now quite selective with what a watch and read and I won’t waste my life or time on worthless stories.
Feed your mind something positive and watch it grow!
“A problem shared is a problem halved” is one of those old phrases that has stood the test of time.
Sometimes just talking to someone can ease the burden that some people carry.
We aren’t always looking for an answer or a solution, but the act of verbalising a problem can help clear your mind and take a weight off your shoulders.
Being a good listener to a friend can be the most important thing they need at that time. We don’t always need to give answers, just listen.
Not every problem needs a big formal discussion. A quick coffee and a chat with a friend can leave your mind clearer with a new perspective on what is often a trivial matter. Sometimes problems can be bigger in our own head so just talk to a good friend.
Now these are just my own insights and habits to improve my mental health and hopefully people can take something away from this read.