5 Steps To Better Your Mental Well Being
What if I told you that there were five steps you could take to better your mental state? Your mental well being has an impact on all spheres of life.
Scientific evidence does indeed point to five steps that every one of us can take to improve our mental well being. And, while these silver bullets for mental well being may seem obvious to some, for many of us, they seem too simple to be true.
But first of all: let’s see what it is we’re striving for?
What Is Positive Mental Well Being?
Psychology (like medicine) is – sadly – normally focussed on what’s wrong: do you have depression, anxiety, or a diagnosable mental illness? And, while these questions are important, focussing on the absence of illness doesn’t give us much insight into what real well being looks like. Health, they say, is not merely the absence of pathology – it is something more. Health is something active, and mental well being is too.
Positive mental well being is a perspective on living and life which allows us to actively feel good about ourselves, our world and those around us.
Positive mental health permeates our attitudes, relationships and ways of being in the world. If we’re in a state of positive mental well being, we can get the most out of our lives. We can feel better and be better.
There is also evidence that good mental well being (psychological health) is important for our physical health. The mind-body connection is strong. For instance, think of how easily you get up and go for a walk when you’re feeling bright and breezy. Now think of how easily you consume a whole box of Oreos when you feel down. It’s a simple example, but it serves to illustrate the sometimes direct link between our mental and physical health.
But being bright and breezy – happy and lighthearted – is not all that mental well being is about.
Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and a desire to explore the world and savour life are all part of our mental well being, as are a sense of purpose, self-esteem and self-confidence. Mental well being can take many different forms, and includes the quality of our relationships (and our ability to enjoy those relationships) as well as general feelings of satisfaction with life.
Mental well being does not mean the absence of sadness and strife, but rather, that sadness and strife are manageable when they do happen, and not all-consuming or uncontrollable. Mental well being, loosely defined, means functioning well and in a way which makes you feel good.
Sounds like a lofty enough aspiration, doesn’t it? But – as nice as it sounds to be functioning at your optimal, without overwhelming worry or stress – there are a number of factors which influence our well being, and can make attaining this positive sense of things elusive.
5 Evidence Based Steps To Live A More Fulfilled Life
And that brings us neatly to the 5 steps – the 5 evidence-based, science-backed steps – each one of us can take to live a more fulfilled, well mental life. And they do work like magic:
1. Move your body
Get to the gym at least 3 times a week, go for a walk. Do yoga on your bedroom floor. Dance while no one is watching. It doesn’t really matter so much what you do to get active, as it does that you just get active. The trick to make this habit stick? Find an activity that you actually enjoy and make it a part of your routine.
2. Awaken your senses
Heard of mindfulness? Yep. Well now it’s time to try it. You don’t need to be a yogi to reap the benefits of this ancient practice. Start with simple things likes being more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. “Watch” your thoughts: don’t be defined by a thought or a way of thinking. Rather, observe how your mind works. Are you reading this and thinking “Oh gosh I will never find a sport that I like”? That’s okay. Don’t judge your thoughts. Just watch them. That way you’re less likely to be stressed out by mental events than if you feel like they define who you are.
3. Give to others
Altruism is great: it turns our focus onto others, does something good for the world, and makes us feel like a nice person (which we probably are). Even the smallest act of kindness counts.
Try smiling at a stranger, or thanking someone you would normally take for granted. What’s more, if you really get into the giving spirit, and join a volunteer organization or start community work. You will build networks of like-minded others who share your pursuit and our passion.
4. Innovate, get creative or learn something new
Learning new skills can give you a sense of mastery. Remember what it was like when you learned how to ride a bike? What’s more, learning new skills or being creative makes you feel more confident and capable. Sign up for a short course and learn Mandarin. Start a scrap book. Do something that appeals to you and gets your creative juices flowing.
Finally, and probably most importantly, connect with the people around you. Have dinner with you mum or coffee with your sister. Arrange a romantic date night at the beach or tell your friend how much she means to you. Spend time developing the relationships that mean the most to you and making new ones.
Connected people are happier people. Reach out.
Live mindfully & join the Evolution. Follow the link to read the inspiring story of Mandy Myerson who found herself in search of more gentle ways in which she and her family could live in the world.