When we want to improve our physical health, we condition our bodies with movement, sleep, and nourishment. So, in order to improve our mental health, it is imperative we condition our minds as well. Regularly. And not just when we are upset and broken. Do we wait until we are injured to exercise? No. Let's start treating our minds with the same love, respect, and importance as we do with our body.
We have been lead to believe that it is common and expected to be happy all the time, and if we aren’t then it means that there is something wrong with us, that we are weak and negative human beings. One of the biggest reasons why we have been lead to believe this is because of social media. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool. It has the power to influence and change lives for the better and the worst. Unfortunately, so many of us don’t think that people want to see posts about us running late for work or paying our bills or getting rejected or regretting bad decisions or hiding in the bathroom when we don’t want to deal with people (I’ve done it, I’m sure you’ve done it). So newsfeeds are filled with holiday pictures, couple photos, food porn, gym sessions, success stories, awards, toned muscles, and happiness. There’s nothing wrong with posting about the things you’re proud of. But the affect it is having, only posting one aspect of our lives, can be extremely dangerous for our mental health.
Life is an ocean. The ocean is not calm all the time, occasionally there are storms and these storms are inevitable. It is no use trying to prevent the weather from ruining the storm, it will happen anyway. There is no point complaining about the storm either as that will only waste the energy you need to stay afloat. Sure life might seem better when it’s calm and you’re just floating there in the sunshine, but if life just consisted of sunshine and stillness, you would a) get bored, and b) you wouldn’t go anywhere. Storms, as rough and scary and ambiguous as they are, teach us, move us, and take us to places we’ve never been before. Without those rough, scary, and ambiguous moments, you would not be where you are today.
Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey are two of my biggest inspirations. They would not be the incredible people they are had it not been for the multiple storms they survived. They would not have changed and saved the lives of MILLIONS of people had they not experienced pain.
Our failures and our scars should not be hidden or something to be ashamed of. To me they represent resilience, beauty, and courage. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve been through, know that those experiences have shaped you and developed you into the amazing person you are today. As we all grow, so does the storms. They won’t ever stop happening so if we can continue to work on strengthening and conditioning our minds, when it hits again – we will be better equipped. Maybe we won’t break as much, maybe we won’t swallow as much water, maybe will have a boat to withstand the water, or maybe we have learnt to swim.
You must work on equipping yourself with tools to withstand the storms, and you must work on these things daily. Just as you would work on your strength and fitness, you must do the same with your mind. Yes, there are counselors, medication, and help lines to help people when they experience pain and trauma, but I don’t think we should be waiting for a crisis to happen to start working on improving our state.
We place so much importance on our physical well-being. We are cautious about what we are eating and how much we’re moving. We invest time, energy, and money, into it every day. But how much priority are we putting on our mental well-being. Like honestly, how much time, energy, and money are we investing into looking after our mental health?
This week has been bonkers for Abbey and I. We have barely seen each other but we have definitely bonded over our ability to not die and make it to the end of the week. I spoke to her last night and I said there is no way I would have been able to get through some of the obstacles that confronted me this week had I not been equipped with the tools to deal with it.
Below are the tools I would recommend working on. Don’t focus on them all at once but just find one or two that particularly grab you. Work on building strong and regular habits.
1. Gratitude + RAS (Reticular Activating System) – Your thoughts create your reality. What you choose to focus on expands. There’s far too much going on externally in the form of sounds, smells, tastes, sights, textures, for your brain to actually take it all in so the RAS (a filtering system in your brain) helps you to zone in on the things you are focusing on. Gratitude helps you to remember the good in the world, in others, and in yourself. Try to extend your gratitude practice outside of the two days at bootcamp and work on doing it daily.
2. Outlets. It’s important for you to have things in your day and in your week that help you to stay present and happy. This might be some form of movement or creative outlet that removes you from the problems in your head to focusing on something positive and fulfilling.
3. Vulnerability. Find people that you trust and that care about you and talk. This might be a counsellor, mum, friend, work colleague, and just talk to them about how you feel. Don’t be afraid to let your walls down, it isn’t weakness or negativity, it’s honesty and it’s courageous. Sharing your vulnerabilities helps to let people in and connect with you.
4. Pause. If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to take time out. Taking time out in your week and in your day is vital to lowering stress levels and bringing you back to the present moment.
5. Self Development. If you want to grow, then you can’t expect it to just happen as you get older. You must go out there and get it. This may be through books, podcasts, conference, workshops, etc. This is one of the main things that has helped with my mental resilience. Invest in yourself.
6. Positive Environment. Who you surround yourself will have the biggest impact on who you are as a person. Be aware of the energy in others and in how they make you feel. If your environment isn’t making you feel good, I would suggest firstly talking to those people about it (tough but important conversation), and/or putting yourself out there and meeting new people. This can be tough meeting new people, but when you realize others are just as scared and in need of love as you are it makes it a little easier.
If anything, I just want this letter to give you hope. Hope that if it isn’t now, eventually, it will be okay. Be patient with yourself, you’re doing the best you can xx