Mind Matters – The importance of looking after your mental health for YOU.
Self-care is one of the most important exercises that I engage in. I often have a tendency to put others first. If I let my own battery drain, I have nothing left to give others. A great analogy is putting on my own life jacket in the airplane before helping others. The same is true of my mental health.
One of the most important aspects of self-care for me is to have a positive outlook. If I find myself in a negative conversation or situation, I try and divert course and steer away from it.
I practice gratitude and even though my current situation may not be the way I had imagined it, I look for the good in my life and am grateful for same.
Mindfulness is a daily exercise in which I engage in. I use the senses of sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell to be more aware of my present moment, experience and environment. Whatever the season, a stroll in nature always gives me a more positive mind-set and enables me to be grateful that I can hear birds singing, blue skies (or even grey, knowing that after the rain the sun will shine again), the feel of fallen leaves or water at my feet, the taste of my food or the smell of fresh cut grass to name a few.
I mindfully taste my food when I am physically hungry. When I feel hungry, I ask myself am I emotionally hungry or physically hungry. Emotional hunger, I usually feel in my head. I want comfort as a result of some person, place or thing that has made me feel bad. Physical hunger on the other hand is felt below the neck. When I am physically hungry, I enjoy my food and eat it mindfully. When I do this I feel satisfied and mentally well.
I use the tool of journaling to get my thoughts and emotions down on paper. When I am more aware of a resentment, fear, anger or other emotion, I can deal with them in a more appropriate way. Writing gives me time to reflect on what my next action should be. Often connecting with others and having a conversation helps. Sometimes I have to take further action but a problem shared is a problem halved and it helps me to know that I am not alone.
I find that having an action plan, helps me keep my mind focused. I set goals. If I do not achieve these goals that is ok. I do not engage in self-blame. I use it as a time of learning. I re-adjust and re-focus and ask myself what I must do differently to achieve my goal. It is progress not perfection. I take one day at a time and do my best to make each day a good day.
Colour is a very important part of my life. Colour motivates me. I love colour in my clothes. I like to dress well as when I dress well, I feel well. Living with obesity has never stopped me wearing bright, funky and fashionable clothing. It is part of who I am. I also chose various colour schemes in my home that complement the energy and balance that is needed in different rooms. I strive to de-clutter my home which is still a work in progress! When I declutter a room, my mind is then less cluttered.
I’m sure that you have all heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. I find this so true. I love a good laugh. Life is short. I strive to do what makes me happy. I am also mindful of others thoughts and opinions. I respect others and always try and see the good in others. This is essential in maintaining positive mental health. When I help others it gives me a great sense of achievement. One thing that I have learnt over the years is not to have any sense of expectation from others. In this way, I will never be disappointed. I do not try and control others. I look after myself and maintain my own boundaries. This sets me up with the positive mind-set that I need.
Last but by no means is least the importance of human connection in my life. I am grateful to have wonderful family and friends who support me in all my endeavours. I am acknowledged and appreciated by them and in turn I do the same. The mind is like the body. It is a daily programme of exercise that helps me to keep my mind fit.