Mental Wellness Tool Kit – My top 5
Mental health is a big topic! There is so much to it and so many factors involved. I refer to it as wellbeing and it’s not just mental. Your mind and body are one entity and I think we need to move away from this notion that they are 2 separate things. The more and more research that is being done into the gut brain axis we can see that the brain effects the gut and the gut effects the brain they are connected just like all the systems in the body are connected.
When you experience a broken heart, your heart does not literally break but the emotional pain you are feeling, physically feels like your heart is aching, in pain, breaking. Emotions are produced in the brain in the limbic system, they tend to just arise and then we feel them in our body and then our thoughts give meaning to them and then we experience an emotional response. Example in the breakup scenario you may experience grief (an emotion) released in the brain, then your rational brain starts to create stories around the grief, the loss, the breakup and then you feel these in your body – racing heart, tears, tension, nausea, fatigue etc. So you see we are really one, not 2 separate entities – the brain and the body.
I have had my own mental wellness struggles for many years and the emotional and binge eating I did was as a result of what was going on in my head, as a way to cope with thoughts and feelings I had no idea how to process. I am still learning, and I feel very strongly about all of us learning emotional resilience tools to cope with what life continually throws at us. At the end of the day an emotion comes and goes but it’s the stories and the meaning we give it that causes the discomfort and pain in our bodies and in our minds.
“Nothing you can ever experience in life, no matter how terrible, will ever be anything more than a bunch of thoughts, plus a few physical sensations. Can you handle that?” www.laughteronlineuniversity.com
That’s a powerful statement but the past is the past, it can’t harm you except the stories we tell, the memories we hold and the future has yet to happen and unless you are psychic you have no idea how it’s going to pan out. What’s the worst that can happen if you thought positively about something?
Here are 5 of my mental wellness tools
1. No-one can make you feel anything
This is a tricky one I know and a challenging one to learn but it’s true. It’s our thoughts and our stories about someone, an event, a situation that make us feel sad, mad, bad etc. The other person cannot make you feel anything, you are choosing to feel the way you feel.
2. Change your state
This is from Tony Robbins and has served me well. When you feel like crap, whatever the feeling is, change your state. When you feel bad you are generally, contracted in some way, hunched over, sobbing, and making yourself small. So stand up, stretch your body out to its fullest capacity, raise your arms wave them in the air, shake it out, dance, jump, laugh, put on a silly face, ask what’s funny, crazy about this situation. Changing your physiology changes your state.
3. Choose your thoughts
If something bad happens, a bump in the road or life is just not turning out the way you’d hoped. Stop the negative cycle in your head, the ruminating, and the stories. Put an elastic band on your wrist, snap it whenever your start a negative story in your head about how rubbish your life is and then change it, reframe it. Find one thing to be grateful for and really feel that gratitude in your body. See this road bump as just that a bump and something great is on its way. Believe good things are coming, see the good things all around you.
4. Practice gratitude
This is a powerful practice to show you that there are amazing things in your life and that you are amazing. Learning to stop beating myself up started with practicing gratitude for all I had and starting to really appreciate my body and all it did for me and how fortunate I was to have a healthy, fully functioning body. This can be a challenging practice when you are deep in self-criticism and woe is me mode but even just start with 1 thing and build from there, it gets easier and is so worth it.
5. Mother nature
Get out in nature. Nature has a powerful effect on our wellbeing, not only are you moving your body and flooding it with feel good endorphins, but it feels so good to be connected to the earth. We have become so disconnected from nature, we can stay indoors all day and not feel the sun or the rain on our skin. When you feel low it’s so easy to hide away but getting out into the world, smiling at a stranger, walking barefoot on the grass or the beach, allowing yourself to feel positive sensations starts to create new positive sensations and pathways in the body.
I’d love to hear what you use to nourish your mental wellbeing
Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash