The days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in. We’re about to enter a time of the year that can wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing.
So what can we proactively do to support our mental wellbeing and build resilience? Here’s three ideas…
#1 Practise gratitude
Gratitude means thanks and appreciation. You often say “thank you” when someone has helped you or done something nice for you. Gratitude can be seen as an action, as a way of giving thanks, but genuine gratitude also serves as a positive emotion and can affect you at a biological level.
This is why when you are truly grateful, you feel it.
This moves me on to the practice of gratitude. Personally, I take a couple of minutes in the morning to go over what I am grateful for, before starting the day ahead. The caveat here is you have to FEEL it, you have to be truly grateful. If you just rattle off a few things that pop into your mind, this won’t work.
There have been many studies in recent years that show the benefits of gratitude. It not only support your mental wellbeing and mood, but gratitude can even make you physically healthier and improve sleep.
Gratitude has a self-perpetuating nature. The more you practise, the more attuned you are to it, and the more you can enjoy its proven psychological benefits.
Studies also suggest the more practise you can give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset, meaning you can think of your brain as having a gratitude muscle that you can train and strengthen.
#2 Step away from your screens
A typical person in modern-day life is continuously bombarded with stimuli. Podcasts, social media, music, advertisements, work, browsing the internet…the list could go on.
Our brains are constantly occupied, and seldom have time to decipher the abundance of information thrown at us.
When was the last time you enjoyed the present moment and simply day dreamed?
I give myself an allotted time to practise introspection and meditation, usually for 20 minutes and ideally twice each day. As Sam Harris, author of “Waking Up”, says “the practice of mindfulness is extraordinarily simple to describe, but it is in no sense easy”.
But what is easy, is getting out into nature and taking a walk with no distractions. This gives your mind time away from stimuli to think and process subconscious thoughts that may come to the surface. Otherwise, this often ends up happening when you get into bed to go to sleep, and it feels like your mind is scrolling through your subconscious Instagram feed.
I think we should have allocated times in the day where we forgo any stimuli and allow our thoughts to run their course. You would be surprised at the creative space it puts you in to explore opinions, solve problems and dream up new ideas that you never knew were floating around.
Take a morning or lunchtime walk for at least 20 minutes without headphones or any other distractions and allow your mind to wander. You’ll be amazed at where you end up.
#3 Create a routine
Routine plays a critical role in supporting our mental and physical wellbeing.
Research has consistently shown that routine can play an essential role in mental health. Having a routine creates a structure to your day which prevents procrastination and can decrease stress and anxiety by eliminating the guesswork.
Having a routine can help you:
- Lower your stress levels
- Form good daily habits
- Increase focus and productivity
- Take better care of your health
- Improve the quality of your sleep
- Have increased energy
I have always been someone who thrives on a routine and it has played an essential role in creating useful and lasting habits.
My routines and habits are ever-evolving as I learn new techniques and strategies, and yours should too. The routine that suits you now probably won’t serve you in ten years. Keep growing and finding new ways to increase your productivity, health and happiness.
Hopefully, you can incorporate some of these tips into your life, to help build your mental wellbeing and resilience.
- Be proactive rather than reactive
- When you are truly grateful, you feel it
- Gratitude has a self-perpetuating nature
- Avoid digital stimuli for 20 minutes a day and allow your mind to wander
- Create a routine
- Start with a regular sleep schedule
This blog post was adapted from James Eagle’s original article here.