Looking after our mental as well as our physical health is so important. As we enter spring and to mark mental health awareness week 10-16 May, now is a great time to reflect on what is working for you and to be alert to any changes you may wish to make. Our mental health can be impacted at any given moment based on circumstances or changes. Our ability to shift and look after ourselves differently is such a useful skill. In this blog we will explore what can get in the way of our optimum mental health and strategies to deploy when challenges come our way.
What gets in the way of your optimum mental health?
We all know there are times in our lives that we feel better than others. The first step is to review what gets in the way of your optimum mental health. These may include:
- A series of changes all at the same time
- Imposed change (rather than self-imposed change)
- Lack of sleep
- House move
- Poor relationships at work with colleagues and/or boss
- Feeling overwhelmed by too many responsibilities
- Receiving negative feedback
- Health troubles of ourselves or others
- Caring responsibilities
- The level of challenge at work being too great
I notice that when several changes or experiences happen all at once this can cause our mental health to suffer. I call this “stacking”, where the feeling of overwhelm can start to rise as there becomes more things to deal with. An example might be starting a new role, whilst undergoing some health tests yourself, as well as caring for an elderly parent. Bring in some lack of sleep and suddenly we are “stacking” a variety of items that can cause our mental health to suffer.
The good news is that the more aware we are of our own personal triggers, the more we can introduce strategies to optimise our mental health. You can ask yourself in any given moment:
- How am I feeling right now? (notice if the body has any tension in it)
- On a scale of 1 to 10 how satisfied am I with the balance in my life?
- What am I putting up with today?
- What changes would I like to make?
Strategies to optimise our mental health
One of the best approaches to optimising our mental health is to have an ongoing approach to it. Rather than seeing it as a one-off activity, consider your mental health just like your physical health. It takes regular work to keep it in shape. Here are some useful strategies to consider:
- Consider sharing with people how you feel. Talking out our feelings of overwhelm, for example, can be useful.
- Communicate to others around you what you need. For example, if you need some space when you finish work away from others in your family, then make it happen by talking this through with those close to you.
- The saying goes “a problem share is a problem halved”. Often by sharing how we feel it can release the feelings and it can help with problem solving as well.
- If you are at the desk most of the day, try moving around more often, particularly when you feel low in mood. This might include working from another part of the office/ house.
- Walking is a great tonic – consider a daily commute that does not involve the car – find a walk to replace the previous commute, even if you are working at home. Then see how this impacts your mood when you start your working day.
- See if you can carry out some of your meetings over the phone so that you can walk and talk.
- Do you have friends that bring you joy and fun? Invest in these relationships and reap the benefits.
- Reach out to new people and create new friendships – this can be refreshing to you and them.
- Connect with others through giving. Perhaps you could mentor someone new in the team or provide another function with some expertise. Giving makes us feel good.
- Set some simple, clear boundaries about your working day – a start time, an end time and breaks, as well as time to prepare and think as well as for meetings.
- Set some boundaries about your physical space too – if you are working at home, how could you be even more effective at switching off by closing off your working space versus your space to relax?
Setting some clear actionable steps towards optimum mental health is a great first step. What could you alter in this next week to improve your well-being? Now is a great time to reflect on your mental health and take some positive steps forward. Taking time work on this through a coaching session is a super way of getting started. I would love to hear how you manage your well-being and mental health. If you wish to work on this, or have any questions for me, please get in touch to arrange a no obligation discovery call.