Imagine the difference it would make if we took care of our mental health in the same way as we take care of our physical health. We know that brushing our teeth is important to keep them healthy and avoid fillings. We know that eating our 5 a day is going to encourage better health. We know that taking exercise will contribute to our overall health and fitness levels.
Can we apply this same thinking to our mental health? Can we apply the 'An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away' principle, to our heads?
Here are a couple of suggestions for practices that are easily integrated into a day, and have a huge impact on your mental health. Choose one, or perhaps you have your own favorite practice?
Do a gratitude practice.
Do some relaxing breathing.
Exercise in the morning.
Watch your thoughts pass by.
Ground using your body.
"Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay." - Simone de Beauvoir
Instructions for "Intentional Change":
If you want to sustain a change in your life, or form a new habit, you have to bring it into your awareness every day. This serves not only to remind you of the direction you want to take on a conscious level, it also works subconsciously to whisper in your ear each time a choice point arises over the course of the day that will move you closer, or further away from your desired outcome. These little choices, over and over again, are all steps in the right direction.
Think of it like a ship crossing the ocean, if you adjust the course of that ship by just a degree, it might end up in another continent!
"Intention is the core of all conscious life. Conscious intention colors and moves everything." - Hsing Yun
Instructions for "The Sanctuary Within"
You have just practiced being in the present moment in a very simple but effective way. Your body is always with you, it's your home. The practice of being present in this home will ground you when you need it, and provide a peaceful refuge when the going gets tough. This is living mindfully in the world.
"If we practice mindfulness, we always have a place to be when we are afraid."
Instructions for Tuning in to Sounds
What you've just practiced is the art of letting things be as they are.
We can exhaust ourselves being annoyed by little things that are often beyond our control — The person in the office who talks too loudly; the rattle on the dashboard that you never seem to have time to fix; the wheel on the shopping trolley that wants you to go left.
Whatever it is, if you can learn to let it be, you will be saving your energy for the things that really matter to you.
"Mindfulness is the practice of returning your attention again and again to what is going on, even if you don't like it, rather than spending time and energy on a struggle with reality." - Padraig O'Morain
Ever heard the saying “Your can’t pour from an empty cup”?
We all have people in our lives that we love and care for, but life challenges can sometimes deplete our energy, making it harder to be there for our loved ones. Practising mindfulness fills your cup, so you can in turn, fill others.
Also, studies have shown that moods are contagious. In 1993, an experiment in Washington showed that crime rates dropped by 23.3% due to a group practising focused meditation. http://www.worldpeacegroup.org/washington_crime_study.html
So, when you practice mindfulness, you are giving to those around you, as well as yourself.
Here’s a simple way to practice generosity to yourself, and others:
"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." - Albert Camus
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing proven tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
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