At any time, good mental and physical health is very important, but now more than ever, and in particular for people in business, it cannot be ignored. Psychotherapist and trainer, Annie Sampson looks at the small changes we can make that can produce greater wellbeing and positive mental health.
When we’re not doing too well, we often experience some or all of the following:
- Fatigue, lack of motivation
- Broken sleep, insomnia, waking feeling tired
- Worries and anxieties that go round and round without resolution
- Body tension, headaches, back, neck tension
- Appetite, absent or overeating
- Difficulty concentrating, lack of focus
- Irritability, snapping at people, feeling overwhelmed, feelings of not being able to cope
So, what can we do to achieve positive mental health? Try looking at the areas below and keep a scorecard of how well you’re doing from 1 – 10, with 10 being very good.
Is it deep, disturbed, difficult? Aim for good sleep hygiene: a bedroom on the cool side. A structure, going to bed and getting up at the same time and keeping off the screen, mobile, computer, even TV. Try not to look at this right before bed. A hot milky drink can help.
Getting up from the computer every 20-30 minutes and stretching, set the alarm. We’re not designed to sit still all day and are more likely to develop muscle tensions, which can be painful. Walk – it doesn’t have to be far or for very long, being out in the elements is good therapy.
Is it varied? Fresh rather than processed foods. Cooking gets you away from the screen and can let your brain switch off from work and its worries. Do you get time to sit down and enjoy a meal?
Are you being heard by those who need to hear you? Look at the way your communicating, you can change this, but you can’t make someone listen. Decide what you want to communicate, choose the words that convey this, speak slowly, breathe! When you don’t feel listened to, it can cause irritation and anxiety. And are you listening to those you are talking with? Focus on what’s being said to you and let the words and sentiment sink in. Communication is an art and it needs attention and work.
Structure the day.
We are creatures of habit which means we like to know what’s happening with no big surprises. At least we can control the time we get up and go to bed, eat, and work. Check, are you being a slave to your work rather than aiming for the 8-hour cycle of sleep, work, leisure?
This is a big one. Can you be compassionate with yourself? Praise for what you did well, learning from what didn’t go so well, rather than berating yourself. If you’re the type who continually pushes yourself, has high expectations, then you might not have enough self-compassion, which can lead to stress and anxiety
A certain amount of anxiety is necessary for us to work, learn, and complete day to day tasks. Too much and we don’t do well. We are aiming for balance, to feel our anxiety levels drop when we have completed the task in hand. When the levels don’t drop, that’s trouble!
These times have produced a lot of anxiety in some of us, we can support ourselves by looking at the above and tweaking. Next step, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Very good advice. If your scores are high and you’re feeling good, then you don’t have to change anything, just accept and enjoy. Small changes are all that’s needed, they act like a ripple, producing bigger changes and gains.
Annie delvers wellness training and will be presenting a Well Being and Mental Health course with ISME Skillnet in the Autumn, details will be available here and find out more about her work here.
By: Annie Sampson. Director and Principle Trainer – Super.Vision Training