How do I manage my mental health?

As my colleague, Rebecca stated in her blog published last week, The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 in 6 people will have experienced a mental health problem in the last week. So how can you and I support our mental health? When things at work or home get tough and we find ourselves facing anxiety or depression, what can help? Telling others, is a good idea, but can be a huge step and means we can be faced with confused faces when we tell people that we struggle with our mental health due to our extrovert personality or the exterior of positivity we present.

I have dedicated this blog to strategies I have learned to put in place to support my mental health and wellbeing.  

So, how do I manage my emotional wellbeing?

·      Meditation;

·      Exercise;

·      Small specific attainable goals;

·      Logging thoughts;

·      Music.

Firstly, I meditate. I know there is an abundance of meditation apps out there and this is often the first thing we may suggest when supporting clients in increasing their confidence levels and reducing anxiety. I personally believe that I would not have achieved what I have today without the practice of meditation. I started a practice called Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 2013. This practice assigns individuals with a mantra of which you ‘effortlessly’ think of whilst ‘transcending into a deeper state of consciousness’.  A relative introduced me to this practice and could see that I may benefit from it too and at first, I was incredibly sceptical. I had tried practices previously and found it impossible to rest my mind. I would advise anyone considering meditative practice to remember the following:

1.    You have to shop around for what works for you;

2.    You have to maintain consistent daily practice.

Meditation is not a one size fits all approach and there is a wealth of scientific evidence behind its benefits. That does not necessarily mean that it is right for you. On revisiting twice daily meditations after a bout of lazy practice, I can truly say this is the one thing that keeps my mind at ease.

Secondly, exercise. . I have never been athletic, and my friends often still puzzle over the thought of me ‘running’. I started with brief walks, which became power walks, into 3-minute sprints and this has slowly progressed into a love for running – bizarre! Start small and try to pick something that you can find enjoyment in. Whether that be 5 lengths in a pool and then spending the rest of the duration in the steam room or simply dancing in your room to your favourite song (this can be done whilst in bed),. Starting with a little bit of exercise once a week can lift your mood. I found simple yoga and exercise routines on YouTube a safe thing to engage in whilst at home. No weights? Use tinned food. No gym clothes? If you’re in the safety of your own home, go for it in your pyjamas. Sometimes you can only find the time to fit in a run every fortnight and that’s okay. I find that this combined with the other strategies is incredibly useful at managing stress, worry or anxiety and it gives a good mood boost.

Thirdly, goals. Working within Lexxic has inspired me to set weekly goals. Starting off small and working your way big is what I have found the least daunting and easiest way to get a quick bit of satisfaction. For example, making your bed, putting a wash on, or walking round the block for 10 minutes once per day.

Write things down. This is something I was nervous of, but it is surprisingly helpful.  You may think ‘Why on earth would I want to look at everything on a page when I can hear it all loudly within my head?’  I have found writing down my negative thoughts and worries works as a release and has helped me understand what I need to do to challenge or resolve them. The solution-focused thinking approach is very useful in breaking these thoughts down, asking yourself what the evidence is, is there a more helpful thought, how can you respond to that situation and what might your friends say? It is also good to reflect on these thoughts in later times.

Music. I am huge lover of music. I am fairly certain that everyone has a favourite song that lifts their mood. If you’re feeling low, put this on. I often wonder when listening to music why I didn’t think to put this on sooner. And if you don’t have a favourite song, there are many playlists on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and other applications that have reems of ‘feel good’ playlists. Blast music out on your phone, speakers, TV, radio, or headphones.

These are some of the main tricks that I find keep me going. It is not a golden ticket guide or quick-fix to anxiety and mental health issues, but it is some things that I find really helpful in keeping my mind at ease and reducing anxiety and worry. I also find that good sleep, watching what I eat and talking to people can also be incredibly useful.

It can be hard to engage in any of the things listed here when you’re feeling down, if you find this you could benefit from seeking advice from your support systems, HR department and/ or GP.

Over the years I have recognised that there is no easy route. It is not a linear process but understanding the things that can make you feel just that little bit better can be a good place to start. 

By Amber Williams, Business Psychologist at Lexxic

Stephanie Kukoyi