Keeping your mental health in check

The status of our mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, including our relationships and how we view and engage with the world around us.

It determines how we handle differing opinions, gossip, family drama and past traumas. It affects what we eat or don’t eat, how our body stores that food and our digestive system.

Mental health affects how we do our work; how we worship; how we parent; our comfort level in social situations; what choices we make in life; how we deal with stress and how that stress impacts our physical health.
Taking care of our mental health is vital to our well-being.

Here are some tips to help keep your mental health in check.

Input healthy thoughts as soon as you open your eyes in the morning

It’s common to wake up thinking about all that you must do throughout the day, problems that you might need to take care of or things that didn’t go right the day before.

Instead of thinking about what you can’t control at that moment, it’s helpful to have a routine of waking up, and purposely putting a positive thought in your head. This could be anything you want: gratitude for waking up, an affirmation, a prayer – anything that will pump you up to start your day.

Monitor your self-talk

What are you telling yourself throughout the day? So often we are on autopilot and don’t even realise all the negative stuff flying through our brain – self-deprecating talk or thoughts that create guilt and shame. Once you become aware of what you are thinking, you can catch yourself, question those thoughts, and steer yourself in a different direction.

Emotional regulation

This is a big one. Emotional regulation is basically how we interpret a situation, and then how we act – or don’t act – based on the emotions we feel inside. Our brains are wired to react in a certain way when we feel a particular emotion. This predetermined reaction may not be so helpful and may cause us more trouble than intended. We can change that by becoming aware of what’s happening on the inside and work on reacting and managing our emotions in another way.

Warrior breathing (a.k.a. mindfulness)

Being mindful is the ultimate way of learning to regulate emotions, manage thoughts, and change behaviors. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, starting with the most basic one of becoming aware of our breathing, and focusing on how our breath moves through our bodies.

Set realistic goals and manage expectations

Easier said than done, for sure. It’s okay to have preferences in life, however expectations tend to get us into trouble, setting ourselves up for disappointment. We speak our goals into existence, create a plan, take action, and sometimes things change. Accepting that we don’t always have control over how it all works out allows us to focus on what we can do, leaving us feeling much more satisfied.

Healthy communication

Most would agree that the foundation for any relationship is trust, honesty, and loyalty. However, the pillar that often goes unsaid is communication and, ultimately, assertiveness and boundary setting.

We need to communicate effectively to have our needs, wants and desires met whether it’s with our families, at work, or just interacting with everyday people.

Very few, if anyone at all, are mind readers, so it is up to us to speak it into existence.

Healthy communication doesn’t come easy, and it is a skill to be practiced to strengthen our ability to get over a universal fear of difficult conversations. Again, all part of our mental health.

Sleep

Sleep is everything. If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, start with making modifications to your sleep hygiene and look into natural remedies. If you still can’t shake it, consult your doctor.

And, of course, a healthy, balanced diet and exercise routine is the ultimate mindcare tool.

Sutton Burke

Sutton Burke is clinical director and psychotherapist at Infinite Mindcare. For more information, visit infinitemindcare.com

Infinite Mindcare Talk Series

Infinite Mindcare co-hosts free monthly workshops for the community at Books & Books in Camana Bay, 9am.

Here are some upcoming workshops.

15 Feb – Words Matter: Cultivating kindness in an age of rage
21 March – Toxicity: How to deal with the negative people in your life
18 April – Stress busters: Tools to manage life on life’s terms