There are sure fire ways to keep yourself chipper and more content with a few little insights into how your mind works. Knowing how to protect your mental health is a super skill that everyone should know and use. This world can be a tough one to navigate but knowing how to increase mental resilience and cope with the stress life throws at you will help you deal with the lows better than ever before.
Choose your attitude
You have two choices – you can choose to focus on how miserable you are and how life sucks OR you can choose to focus on what is good in life. Gratitude can IMMEDIATELY help you to feel better if you make the effort. Stop playing the victim. Stop believing the world owes you something – it doesn’t. You may wish your partner was more appreciative and loving but they don;’have to be. There is no rule book stating that you MUST be loved and appreciated at all times. Yes – you would prefer it but if they don’t fully appreciate you, try to see what they do in the relationship that is good. Clearly if the negatives outweigh the positives you may have to re-assess the future of the relationship but focus on the good rather than the bad. Many of us live life with a “negative mental filter” and we hone in on what isn’t working. You know what – this is a recipe for misery. Yep – there is good and bad in the world, I am not denying that but you choose your attitude and you choose what you wish to focus on. If you choose to focus on crime, or bad politicians or injustice in the world, you will feel angry and helpless and possibly become buetter and twisted…read the next step on what to do about your “negative mental filter”.
Problem Solve, don’t wallow
So, you already know how to protect your mental health by watching what you focus on. If injustice is getting you down, if crime upsets you or you hate your job and all your colleagues…you can choose to wallow and feel fed up (and focus on it) OR you can problem solve. When you problem solve you use positive, logical and rational thinking to come up with solutions.
The first thing you need to consider is whether you can control the issue or not. There is absolutely NO POINT in fretting over things you cannot control – like other people for instance. Your power lies in your own actions, thoughts and how you wish to respond to the world around you.
If you hate your job, consider your options. You could talk to your boss about your concerns or you could possibly start looking for another position. Get a pen and paper and ‘brain sttrom’ all your possible options. This action will help you to feel less helpless and/or powerless. If you hate your relationship – think about talking to your partner, or get counselling or you could leave. You always have choices.
Don’t let fear stop you
Sometimes facing the problems or concerns we experience in life can be upsetting. Fear often gets in the way and I am always amazed at how many people I meet who live their life according to their fears. Fear dictates their life and has far more power over them than it should.
Think about your own life – is fear stopping you from doing things? Ask yourself what it is that you fear. Really think about it – your fears are often a figment of your imagination. All too often, we overestimate the problem (it will be awful, it will be terrible) and imagine the worst case scenario whilst simultaneously underestimating our ability to cope (I am not brave enough, strong enough I won’t cope). Cognitive Behavioural Therapists call this the “Anxiety Equation” and these two ways of thinking create anxiety/fear and the outcome is that we AVOID. We avoid looking for a new job, we avoid talking to our partner or dating someone new etc
When we avoid, the fear grows as we never challenge it – can you see the vicious cycle?
Use approach behaviour not avoidant behaviour
Get stuck in and see life as an adventure. You choose your attitude about the world. We all live by core beliefs and these are formed in our childhoods. If we lived in a household where people were selfish, we may end up witha core belief that everyone is out for themselves. From core beliefs, we creat “rules for living”. Rules for living often take the format of “If this…then that”. For example – if I open up to others they will take advantage of me…or another common rule for living is, “if I am not nice and try to please others, no one will like me”…these are just thoughts or ‘rules’ that we have made to hel us create order and sense in ouor worlds but often our rules for living limit us and they aren’t even accurate!
See if you can figure out what your core beliefs and subsequent rules for living might be.
To help you figure out your core beliefs:
Answer these three questions without thinking too hard:
Other people are…
The world is…
What were your answers? Positive, negative or neutral? Consider the costs of thinking this way – your thoughts create your reality. Thoughts create feelings and feelings lead to behaviour. If your thinking is unhelpful you will most likely have bad negative feelings and this can affect your mental health and your physical health. ALWAYS consider your “mental diet” – what you ‘feed’ yourself mentally is just as important as what you feed yourself physically.