It is estimated that one in six people have experienced some kind of mental health problem in the past week. It could be someone you know, a colleague or even yourself…
Mental health is a taboo subject for many of us, but it is often a gruelling daily struggle with a series of setbacks and battles with an unseen enemy. And just as there is no one-size-fits-all diagnosis, whether severe depression or mild nervousness, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.
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There are, however, methods that can at least help alleviate stress and anxiety by reducing the strain on the psyche. In this article, Shayan Kadir, a personal growth coach who runs masterclasses for Sanctus, talks about 11 ways that can improve your mental wellbeing.
1. Get into a flow state
“Flow is a state where you allow your mind and body to merge, dissolving into each other. If we do something every day, we can enter this state when we are immersed in our activity. There are many activities that can help you enter the flow state, such as running, meditating, making art and even typing. Once you find your Flow, you will feel as if the time has stopped and all your worries have disappeared. It will take practice at first, you will come closer and closer to this state each time, and eventually the body will do everything for you.
2. “Will it make a difference in…?”
“When you feel strongly about something, it’s easy to lose sight of the more distant perspective. Ask yourself: “‘Will it matter in a week? In a month? In a year?” Your state of mind right now may not correspond to how important the problem will be some time from now, and these questions can help you look at the situation from a different perspective to see how to respond to it. And if the problem is important a year from now, these questions can change the way you act in that situation.
3. Get back to nature
“The Japanese have a concept of ‘forest baths’ – it means spending frequent time in nature and walking among the trees. It helps to restore our body’s natural balance. Stress, anxiety, global problems, city life, and constant social media activity are all stressful, and taking a break from such stress, even if it’s just spending time in nature, is very good for our physical and mental health.”
4. Control your breathing
“Quite often when we get too wrapped up in our thoughts, stress causes us to lose control, get anxious and even panic, and a good way to interrupt this is to focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply, trying to pay attention to how you’re breathing, and stay calm so that anxiety doesn’t throw you off balance by triggering a panic attack. Some triggers that appear before the attack are rapid breathing, heaviness in the chest, and tension in the shoulders and throughout the body. Focus on what feels wrong and ask yourself: “How do I get out of this?”
5. Name your critic
“Most people assume that we only have one inner voice. In fact, there are at least two such conflicting voices, and the next time one of them declares in your inner monologue that you’re not good enough, remember – this ‘critic’ is not the only one with a voice. Give him a name and character, and the next time you hear something self-deprecating from him, you’ll realise that the ‘critic’ isn’t the only thought and you can challenge him.”
6. Move around more
“Make time for stretching, strength training, cardio or even a brisk walk – it will have a noticeable effect on your mental state. Biologically, as hunters and gatherers, we are designed to move – every day we have to go out in search of food and then go back again. So if you sit at your desk all day, using all your energy to work on your head, it’s as if you ‘disconnect’ from your body. Taking regular breaks to move around will have a big effect on your brain.
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7. Talk to people
“Many people are reluctant to talk to family and friends about psychological problems. This will be a difficult but important step, because then you can say what you think – as opposed to the usual ‘everything is fine’ when in fact ‘everything sucks’. Believe it or not, perpetual positivity has its negative consequences. For example, if you’re grieving for someone close to you and your motto is to think positive, forget everything and move on with your life, you’ll be left with the need to let the grief out. I have seen many people who, even several years after the tragedy, have not lived through the grief and are still unable to come to their senses. It’s important to allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions. If you allow yourself to be sad sometimes, the sadness goes away faster.”
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“Sometimes we get caught up in our own problems and don’t see what’s going on on the outside, and then being able to help others brings a different perspective to the situation. And it also promotes endorphin production, making us feel better. You can do charity work or just write to someone and see if they need help. What is very easy for us may be very difficult for others, but you wouldn’t know about it if you didn’t ask. Helping others will give you a deep sense of belonging.
“Take time to engage in activities that strengthen the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As people get older, they forget what it means to just enjoy life, play and make up games like we did when we were kids. It is therefore a good idea to make time for creative activities – whether painting, music lessons, singing, dancing, designing, building, cooking or decorating. If your mental state leaves much to be desired, creativity can help you find healing by expressing yourself in a new way.”
10. Work on your sleep schedule
“Significant levels of stress and anxiety are associated with not getting a good night’s sleep. Everything is connected: it’s important to stick to a suitable ritual or specific bedtime and wake-up time, especially during the week. Putting away all gadgets an hour before bedtime will help reduce your stress levels. Reading or meditating before bedtime is also a good way to normalise your sleep patterns.
11. feel gratitude
“Finally, remember the little things that are doing well and feel gratitude for them – because it’s so easy to lose sight of them, thinking only about the problems, the things that aren’t working out and the things we need to get better at. So we forget about the good things and how lucky we are – until we lose what we took for granted. Ask yourself: what are you thankful for? There may be more of those things than you think.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)