Happy World Mental Health Day everyone!
But we all have mental health in the same way we all have physical health – and that mental health needs to be understood and looked after to help us stay happier. And the better we do that, the more resilient we become. This means that when things do get difficult we’re more able to cope with them.
It’s pretty similar to physical health really – if we don’t look after ourselves we’re more vulnerable to colds, flu etc. And when we do get ill our overall health will help determine the speed of our recovery.
Mindapples explores this idea with their brilliant ‘5 a day for your mind’ campaign. They encourage people to identify five things that they do regularly to look after their mind. Often people come up with things a bit like my list here. But perhaps there’s something more we can do with the five things idea?
I’ve started doing something new recently which I really recommend. It was born from a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) homework where we had to look out for and identify pleasurable experiences as they happen. This helped us become more mindful of our day to day experiences.
At the end of each day, I’ve been recording five good things from that day in my notebook.
Sometimes, when I am on holiday for example, they’re really good things; swimming in a crystal clear Alpine lake. And reflecting on them and writing them down helps me appreciate them.
Sometimes they’re just day to day things; black coffee and a hot cross bun for breakfast, watching the Great British Bake Off, getting a piece of writing finished. These are things that would otherwise often pass without me really appreciating them – as my mind would be busy or distracted by something else.Sometimes they’re pretty good things; an autumnal walk in the park with an excitable dog, meeting a friend for muffins and coffee. These are often things that I might feel too tired, low or busy to do beforehand – but doing them and recognising they gave me pleasure will help motivate me to do them again.
Writing down my five good things gives me a bit of time to reflect before bed. It helps me to identify the little things that I enjoyed in the moment so I can do them again. It’s started making me more mindful of good things and pleasant experiences as they happen too.
It also helps me to recognise when the fog is on it’s way back – when i’m really struggling to find
anything I took pleasure in. Then I can make sure I’m being gentle with myself in the days ahead. And your notebook becomes a good reminder when you’re feeling low that there are good things out there.
It’s a simple way of helping you get to know your mind. And the better you know it, the more easily you’ll be able to look after it. I’d recommend giving it a go.