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5 ways you can care for your mental health

Anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed now that things are ‘almost’ back to normal? Every weekend there seems to be something going on, from festivals to coffee dates – not to mention the number of ‘missed lockdown’ birthdays people are now celebrating. 

Since ‘Freedom Day’ it’s become harder and harder to stick to a routine, as we still try to fit in all our new hobbies and gym sessions. For those who are back to commuting, the number of hours available in a day for ‘you’ have been cut short; evenings you’d usually be catching up on are now grabbing a rushed dinner after being convinced to go out for that afterwork drink, again.

Trouble is, it’s all too easy to get carried away. And why shouldn’t we? THE WORLD IS OPEN AGAIN (well, ish). Some of you may be reading this thinking you couldn’t be happier that you’ve got your old lifestyle back but there’s also many of us that secretly miss the quiet life. 

If that’s you. It’s Ok. Firstly, remember life is to be lived so a mix-up in routine isn’t a bad thing but if it’s making you feel anxious, worried and unsettled, that’s going to have a big impact on your mental health.

We’ve teamed up with Martina Witter, cognitive behaviour therapist, health & wellbeing consultant and founder of Rapha Therapy, to bring you some top tips to help care for your mental health. 

1. Balance and dopamine

Find a good work life balance and ensure you have clear and defined boundaries, especially if you’re working from home.

Establishing a work life balance enables you to have sufficient time to destress and engage in value driven activities that will enhance your mood and sense of achievement, which is critical to mood boosting as dopamine is received when this happens. 

Dopamine is the achievement hormone and tends to be lacking when someone’s mental health is compromised. Higher dopamine levels in your body result in greater focus, attention, creativity, long-term memory and concentration. 

Martina Witter sitting on a bench

Dopamine is the motivation molecule that drives you to seek rewards in achieving goals and enables you to take the effort it requires to be successful.

2. Mindfulness Meditation 

Meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety and improve concentration, wellbeing and mental health, which curtials worry and anxiety from hijacking your mental health. 

Useful mindful exercises may include the body scan exercises, mindful breathing or engaging in daily tasks in a mindful manner through engaging the five senses (taste, smell, hear, feel, see) in all activities, and taking a non judgemental stance whilst tuning out from distractions and into your present experiences.

3. Be Compassionate 

Research suggests there are at least three emotional regulation systems that help us to cope in life, including dealing with the demands of work, running a business or having a family. 

The three systems consist of the threat system, drive system and contentment system (Gilbert, 2009). 

The contentment or soothing system is designed to assist with facilitating a sense of calm and balance between the other two systems. 

The soothing system provides us with positive feelings such as contentment and safety, which we all desire.

The content state is related to the chemical endorphins, which are heightened when you can self-soothe.

Compassionate imagery, thinking and breathing are useful for our mental health especially if you’re prone to being self critical and pessimistic.

3 females with their arm in the air

The following questions can be useful in developing a compassionate mindset 

  • What does my compassionate image have to say about this? 
  • What advice would I give to a friend I deeply care about who was thinking and feeling this way?  
  • What advice would I give to a friend who is experiencing self-critical and negative thoughts? 
  • What does the compassionate part of me want to say to the self-critical part? 
Male running through forest.

4. Be active and take action

Be physically active and connect with your values by taking committed action.

Exercise and being active releases endorphins, which are associated with positive emotions and reduce anxiety, stress and depression.

Exercise is an outlet for your stress, which can reduce anxiety and elevate your mood and self esteem. 

Consequently, regular exercise can enhance your business and work performance and productivity through improved cognitive performance such as enhanced concentration.  

The identification and execution of activities that you enjoy and consistently engage in will enhance your emotional resilience and mental health.

5. Journaling

Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts on paper, prioritise problems, fears, and concerns.

When you have a problem or you’re stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce your stress.

On the flip side, it’s also great for positive self-talk. Write down affirmations and achievements (no matter how small). Give yourself a boost and remember just how far you’ve come.

Martina is also the author of Resilience in the Workplace– a must-read book for anyone seeking to succeed in life, business, and the workplace. Discover evidence based secrets to success and how to build emotional resilience, increase performance, and productivity.

Person sitting in a coffee shop with a coffee and a journal