In recent years, there has been a welcome and informative change to our attitudes towards mental health. It is no longer taboo – we can finally address the ever-present elephant in the room… at home and in the workplace. This change is long overdue but the ball is now rolling, and we must look at both prevention as well as healing.
There are a great number of ways to strengthen and sustain our mental health. As individuals, there is no “one size fits all” solution to our quest – you may need to walk in the forest, take part in your local Park Run, or meditate. Here and now, I want to highlight two deep and meaningful ways in which you can keep your heart and your mind happy… even in the most challenging of times.
The first way is by connecting to and following your values. All too often, we are swept up in meeting personal and professional deadlines – and trying to look good whist doing it all; however, all of this effort is unimportant if we lose sight of who we are as an individual, what we value, and where we ultimately want to end up. This might not appear to be so terrible on the surface but, as time ticks on, you will notice that achievements become hollow if there is no real direction and purpose.
Some of our values are more present in our mind than others. To help find as many of your values as possible, think about a time when you were truly happy…when you felt joy…when you were exactly where you wanted to be…
Close your eyes and take yourself back there for a few minutes. See how many details you can recall.
Engage with your senses. What was the temperature that day? What could you hear? What could you see? Who was there?
List all the things you really appreciated at that moment. Stick to those things that are still important to you. You might uncover one or two that have been lost for a while!
Another way to spot your values is by observing what makes you angry. When we are angry, we are typically confronted with a situation where our values are being neglected or ignored by ourselves or others. If there is anything in your life right now that is making you feel angry, be precise. What is missing? If you are feeling angry with a colleague who never thinks to keep you in the loop, maybe your value of being part of a team or community is out of kilter? Or, if you feel unable to do something important for yourself because of family commitments, it could be that your value of independence is not being fulfilled. As hard as it is, try to look at the situation with curiosity rather than being sucked into the emotion. When connected to your values, you will find a positive resolution to your conflicts.
Your values will lead you to what is best for you, and will keep you from wasted time, frustration and a sense of being lost. When you have an important decision to make, check in with your values – they will help you to keep moving in the right direction.
The second way to keep your mental health in good shape is by keeping your inner critic in check. This is no small task, as this sneaky, persuasive character will have been with you for many years.
The inner critic will judge you, others and circumstances. Its voice can, for some of us, be unbearably harsh… knocking us down time and time again…
So how do we get the reigns on this beast?! Firstly, it is simply a question of identification. The next time you catch yourself criticising yourself, others or circumstances, just pause for a moment.
Say to yourself “Oh, it’s the inner critic again having a grumble. Shh…”
Take a breath and move on with your day.
See how often you can catch this voice at work and just call them out. By noticing it and identifying it as a separate entity, and not that of your true self, you will already have a dramatic impact on the power of this negative and sometimes destructive voice. If you struggle to catch your inner critic in the act, try reflecting back at the end of the day and see if you can spot how this character influenced a next move, changed your mood and took away the option of a more positive outcome.
If you would like support with this work or any other hurdles you want to overcome, coaching can be a powerful companion on your journey. I offer a free chemistry session to ascertain if we would work well together and if we choose to proceed, you can use the code LC21 to benefit from a 25% reduction on your package.
In the meantime, stay well and safe.