Today is World Mental Health Day and I thought I would mark it with some ideas for taking care of your mental health. On the side of working as a jewellery designer-maker I work as a counsellor and psychotherapist too. At the moment this is one day per week, just the right amount to keep me providing a good service without it being too much, while my business continues to grow.
I started my jewellery business after I was working as a counsellor, faced with humans with stories from the shocking to the mundane, all of which were causing significant distress and inhibition in their lives in one way or another. My work was/is rewarding - being someone charged to help people face undealt with issues either past or present, raising awareness of themselves and their own particular world for easier choice making, and helping them explore new ways of thinking, behaving and feeling breaking old and unhelpful patterns which cause harm and pain. Not to mention a few tips and techniques. I also saw so many times that simple awareness or choices earlier in their lives could have made such a huge difference and prevented so much damage or heading in the wrong direction, and I want to share some of these simple, common sense ideas with you so you can stay out of a counsellors room.
7 Tips for good Mental Health
I don't just mean food, but we are what we put into ourselves. Whether its healthy food (with the odd treat), we also consume from what we watch, read, who we spend time with, our environment. It is worth reflecting on what you want to be going into yourself to continue to grow and nurture your (one and only precious) life to make it what you want. Walking in nature is one of my daily nourishing activities.
I, like most therapists and philosophers, believe that life has no meaning. Yup, thats scary stuff. But the most wonderful thing about this is that we can make our own meaning. Both in big and small ways. If it is meaningful for you to be an attentive parent, to create something beautiful for the world, to do you work diligently, to march for causes you believe in, to help others, to build things. Because life is meaningless we have to make our own and we each bring something to the world. This can seem scary, it can be easier to just follow the crowd or what others are doing. but this is so much better and deepens our purpose and experience of life. Its always useful to review what is meaningful to you and what isn't so you can let go of spending time and energy on meaningless things.
Support from others
When I'm working with clients I notice problems can arise, particularly in areas like motivation, getting going, letting fear dominate, letting something someone once said stop you living fully - because of a lack of support. We need internal support, support in our minds to be able to reach for what we need (this can be built through experience/therapy if it isn't there), and also someone there to witness our reach, support and encourage the reach, so we can get our needs met. We have these in our lives and we must utilise each other. I often think this is what instagram has supported so many of us in doing, we reach with our squares and caption and we feel our message and intent received at the other side. ideally of course we need people right there beside us in our lives to support us in all aspects, and the less we have, the more we have to take a risk and ask for help, work at establishing relationships that are mutually supportive to enable us to flourish. We also need to talk to others about stuff. The good stuff, the bad stuff. tell someone you trust what is going on for you. P.S. most people absolutely love this so you have nothing to loose.
Self Compassion and Care
Everyone is talking about this and its because its true! No-one is going to do this for you. be kind to yourself, notice negative words you use towards yourself and replace them with compassionate and kind ones. Being alive is hard so the last thing you need is to undermine yourself with negative talk or actions. If you haven't experienced much compassion and find this hard look for support groups, a counsellor or reach for friends so you can start learning how to do it.
The unexamined life isn't worth living. Jung I think. All of the above require reflection. your anxiety or depression, anger or low self esteem are natural calls to action for something to change. They are manifestations that something needs to be different and only you can make a change, or ask for help. Equally reflect on the good stuff, your amazing qualities and talents, big or small. Again, if you can't think of your qualities or feel your achievements then help from friends and family or professional help is needed.
In our modern and crazy world with so many demands on our time we need time out. It isn't indulgent to take time off, to relax on the sofa at night, to sleep in on Saturdays. If your body wants it, you have to let it have it! Neuroscience tells us that we need recuperation time to process and integrate our daily experiences into our psyche so it is fresh and ready for more when your energy returns.
Freud said that the healthy person needs to love and to work. I love this benchmark, but I love even more that Gestalt therapists added Play to this short list. It is so important to have fun! Laughing, smiling, creating, enjoying, appreciating is essential to helping us take a break, let go, bond with others and ourselves and for new things to emerge. Make sure you get a bit of play time every day! If you're suffering from depression or are grieving this one can be so tough. If so, notice, relax, seek support, and you'll get there.
What are your strategies to keep yourself mentally healthy? Do any of these resonate? I'd love to hear your thoughts, here or on instagram. Which one thing can you do differently today? If you like this article please like and share with friends so they can benefit too.
If you would like professional help to explore any blocks and problems in making these things happen there is a lot of help out there: I would say the most common thing I have heard clients say is 'I wish I did this before..."
BACP - British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy