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How to keep your mental health in check

May 10, 2021

Your greatest enemy or your strongest ally.

2020 was a year like no other, with our mettle being well and truly tested. As we follow the roadmap out of Lockdown, we might still be facing challenges, both personally and professionally.

The week 10th – 16th May is Mental Health Awareness Week and now more than ever, it’s important to stop and make time to be aware of the nature of your thoughts. Are they serving you well and supporting you, or are they busy, complicated and it feels like they are dragging you down?

The mind is a complex and delicate organ and it needs the same care as any other organ in the body. Our mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellbeing, and they are intrinsically entwined – when one is not in a positive state, very often this has an impact on the other.

Many people ignore the signs that their mental health might not be in a positive state. They perhaps feel they’re too busy, that they’re just going to have to get on with things and gradually things will work themselves out. That is until of course, they reach burnout and only when physically things start to stop them in their tracks, are they forced to take action.

Others may surrender to their thoughts – believing that seemingly they are powerless in the equation. They think their thoughts come rushing into their head and they can do nothing about them. And it can certainly feel that way – that we have no power when we start to feel like our mind is out of control.

Recognise. Process. Reframe. Regain.

It’s OK not to be OK – because we can all feel sometimes like things are overwhelming, that we can’t cope with everything, that one curve ball too many has been thrown our way. We might feel like it needs to be a duvet day and we don’t want to see anyone or do anything. The thing is, it’s OK not to be OK but it’s not OK to stay that way. Long-term when we hide away from things – whether that be physically and/or metaphorically, we’re not dealing with the issue. Maybe we choose to slap a smile on our face, convincing ourselves this is just a phase and carrying on as normal when deep down, we feel wretched, when we might feel mentally and emotionally exhausted; well that behaviour is like wearing rubber gloves to fix a leaky pen – we are not addressing the real issue – how we are thinking and feeling.

It’s vital we recognise when things start to feel overwhelming, when we feel unable to make rational decisions, when we’re feeling anxious about going out, seeing people, socialising. When we start to build the walls to shut everyone and everything out, that’s when we need to stop and recognise that something needs to change – the nature of our thoughts. When we acknowledge that, that’s the first step to making a positive change.

Living with clinical depression is a different matter and needs medical intervention – regular sessions with a professional in that field of expertise and treatment to help and support.

When feeling anxious, depressed or in the depths of despair, it’s so important to acknowledge your feelings and to process them and work out the thoughts they stem from. Often, we have a thought about something, it manifests into feelings and those emotions such as worry, anxiety, concern, anger and upset remain, long after the thought has left us. We’re then left feeling these emotions but unless we consciously think about what’s going on with our feelings, we can’t actually pare it back to why. So, when things are feeling too much, take some time to reflect on what it is that’s resulting in these feelings. Once you’ve figured that out, you can then start to work out how you can reframe these thoughts to produce different thoughts and feelings, ones that will support you to take back control and to move forward.

The control you crave in your life can be gained by knowing how to run your brain, rather than allowing it to run you. You get to decide what you fill your head with. Unfortunately, many people think thoughts come flooding into their head and they are powerless over them. That’s simply not the case. That first thought might appear, seemingly beyond your influence but once you recognise it and the resulting emotion that’s not supporting you, you can take back the control. You can be consciously aware of where you are allowing your thoughts to take you.

For a thought is just a thought. It’s not fact. And you get to decide whether to continue with a thought, to perpetuate a loop which is not serving you well, or whether you intercept the loop and bring your thoughts back, back where you can direct them.

You can reset your mindset to be resourceful and resilient because the single most important thing, standing between where you are today and where you want to be, is your thinking.

Spotting the lighthouses

And there are the things you cannot influence in life – the lighthouses, and this quote is very apt here:

When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where the power is.” Unknown

For that is precisely where the power lies – it is within you. There is so much you cannot control – the weather, the passing of time, events, other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions. You are not responsible for them and can do nothing about them. But the one thing you can influence and have control over, is how you choose to respond. Sometimes that takes time, you might need to re-calibrate but the choice is yours. And that’s when you can put yourself firmly in the driver’s seat and navigate your way through life’s ups and downs.

Over the past almost four decades of the Winning Edge programme, we have had many participants who have severe anxiety, some have admitted to feeling suicidal. They have said that discovering they can choose the direction of their thoughts has been nothing less than life-changing; the epiphany that the power sits with them has been liberating and truly empowering.

Checking in on your MINDSET VITALS

When we feel our thoughts are spiralling downwards, when we feel we’re allowing someone else’s words and deeds to affect us, regain the domain. Just as when we go to the GP or the A&E department because we are physically unwell, they check our vitals – such as our pulse, blood pressure and our body temperature, so too is it important to check in with your Mindset VITALS™.

By checking in on your Mindset VITALS™, you are then consciously aware of the nature of your thoughts and whether they are hindering or helping you. Because what you think about you become and if your thoughts are full of worry, frustration and negativity, that will be evidenced by your emotions and your behaviour will reflect this. Day by day, if you repeat these thoughts, emotions and actions, you build habits and over time, you find yourself in a set of circumstances created by what? All your own thoughts.

If you take just 15 minutes each day – that’s just 1/96th of your entire day, you can check in on your Mindset VITALS™ and ensure your mental health is in check.

HOW TO CHECK YOUR MINDSET VITALS

  1. Visualise who you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have. Train your brain into believing it’s possible by visualising it daily. Replay it so it becomes your new normal.
  2. Intentional thoughts that support you, will help you to move forward. Ask yourself: ‘Is what I’m thinking helping or hindering me?’
  3. Take personal responsibility. When you take full ownership of what you want and how you want to show up for you, you will feel empowered. You’ll feel more focused and committed to reaching your goals.
  4. Affirmations repeated daily will realign neural pathways and boost self-belief. Try: ‘I know I have the resourcefulness, resilience and self-belief to overcome challenges.’
  5. Let Go. We can’t change the past or other people’s thoughts and actions. So instead, focus on the things you can change.
  6. Self-talk boosts your self-image. Be aware of that inner voice and turn down the volume if it’s not serving you well. Amplify the great stuff about you. Rid the self-doubt and build your confidence in you.

A change of mindset is a fundamental prerequisite in order to make any positive shift in your mood and behaviour, in order to make that transformation you desire – to change the way you feel about yourself, to change what you believe you can achieve, to be the best version of you.

This isn’t about positive thinking – it’s about the importance of conscious thinking and being aware of your mindset, which can help you both personally and professionally. Your mental health is key to your quality of life, which is why understanding this subject matter is essential to leading the life you want to lead – an enriched life.

Let this week be the week you start to check in on your Mindset VITALS™ daily and if you feel you need further support, if you are currently struggling and need someone to talk to, please reach out and speak to a trusted friend or loved one; sometimes when we can’t see the wood for the trees, simply downloading to a listening ear helps us to reframe our thoughts. Perhaps you feel it would be easier to speak to someone who doesn’t know you - there are many charities and organisations who are there to help such as Mind and the Samaritans.

Good mental health is essential to our wellbeing. And if you know yours is not in a good place, recognising that and acknowledging it is the first step to feeling brighter and happier times are ahead.

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Would you like help getting your mindset in check?

Do you feel like your brain runs you, rather than you run your brain? Would you like to feel more in control of the nature of your thoughts, to take your life in the direction you want to take it?

The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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