Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and I started thinking about how often mental health issues come up in my work. As a therapist, you expect it obviously, but even in my coaching practice mental health issues come up over and over again.
In fact, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, low self confidence, burnout and stress are all much more common than you think. Thinking back over the last 13 years, I would estimate that they affect around 80% of my clients at any one time. One of the reasons I trained as a therapist is that I was seeing so many people for whom coaching just couldn’t go far enough.
Here are some tips for managing your mental health that I hope you find useful:
- Never apologise for, or feel ashamed about, your mental health. You’re not weak or stupid, you’re reacting to something that has happened and/or is happening to you and that is causing you pain.
- You may not know what that is, and that’s OK. We can still work on the reaction even if we don’t know what caused it. With BWRT for example we can work without any memory of a trauma. If there is a memory, all we usually need to know is that something happened, we don’t often need the details. After all, sometimes digging around in the past just isn’t that helpful.
- Talking helps. So does exercise, meditation, sleep and eating well. Yes, the boring stuff really makes a difference. Unhealthy coping strategies like booze, drugs, sex and food may numb the pain for a bit but make things worse in the end. You can help yourself by adopting a healthier lifestyle. In fact you owe it to yourself to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t mean denying yourself every pleasure. Have a drink, eat delicious food, make love. Enjoy all of the pleasures of the flesh but do it in moderation and mindfully. Don’t use them as a crutch to get you through the day.
- Different coaching approaches and therapies work better for different people and in different situations so try something else if one particular approach or style doesn’t work.
- If you can only do one thing today to help improve your mental health choose one of these:
- go for a walk and notice what you see around you. Pay attention to the leaves changing colour, the people you pass, birds flying around, kids playing, clouds moving across the sky and the weather
- call a friend or family member and just have a chat
- turn everything off and read a book, make something or listen to some music
- do something nice for someone else
- breathe in for a count of 4, hold it 4, breathe out for 4
- if you must worry set a timer and do one of the above when your worry time is over
- plan to try a different one tomorrow