If we are going to live in a world that encourages so much focus on self, we might as well learn to help ourselves navigate effectively in all aspects of life, right? The truth is that life has a way of knocking us all down at some point or another. There will be times when we feel great and times when well… not so much. I believe that Tauren Wells paints the perfect picture of what life is truly like in his hit song, Hills and Valleys. While doing so, he also paints a picture of what I believe is the perfect perspective to get through this thing called life. That perspective is that in life there will be ups and downs, and the same God that assists you in getting to the highs, is the same God who will comfort you through the lows.
Whether Christian or not, I think there is something we can all get from the message of this song, and that is to trust and believe that you will overcome the “Hills and Valleys!” So, in case you are struggling to do that, here are some practical ways to protect your mental on a daily biases.
BELIEVE IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU:
If you live your life as though you have total control over everything that happens to you, chances are, you will probably experience life a bit tougher than those of us who have come to realize that this life is so much bigger than us. At the end of the day, what you believe or not believe is crucial to you protecting your mental.
In an article posted to the American Psychological Association, Azar (2010) explains how as human beings, we have a natural tendency to seek order and avoid chaos. We search for meaning in life, if at no other time, in times of confusion or uncertainty. In doing so, our cognitions allow us to see the world as an intentional design that was created on purpose for a purpose. Azar goes on to note that neurological research supports the idea that our brains are wired to believe, and that common traditions associated with believing in something bigger than you, such as prayer and meditation have the power to change the wiring of the brain to assist in emotion regulation and attention.
The point is, if the only thing you have to hold on to is yourself, you will have a hard time protecting your mental. Believe in something bigger than you, because doing so will allow you to focus on something other than you, during times when you are falling apart.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE:
For me, A person who has built her life around helping others, one of the hardest things for me to do was to spend time on myself when there were so many other people who needed me. It wasn’t until I got to a point of total exhaustion that I realized that I can’t be superwoman for everyone, all the time. So at my breaking point, tears and all, I began to look for ways to take time doing the things I love and doing them for me, so that I could ultimately be better for those around me.
If you want to protect your mental, you must take time for yourself. Do what you love and what makes you happy, regardless of what that looks like to others; you must take time for you.
In a world of wraps and get fit quick diets, the idea of exercise may seem a little less than appealing, however, one of the easiest ways to protect your mental is to establish a consistent workout life. In doing so, you give yourself a much needed boost in many aspects:
1.) Exercise enhances your mood. Weir (2011) explains that research shows that exercise has both short-term and long term benefits when it comes to mental health. It has the capacity to enhance your mood after just 5mins of exercise and that it also helps to decrease the symptoms of long-term depression. 2.) Exercise helps to protect your physical health. In a nut shell, if you are physically healthy, you will have less stress and no added circumstances to increase the impact of any mental illnesses. 3.) Exercise helps to normalize sleep and increase serotonin. Getting sleep is important to maintain good mental health because when you sleep your body and brain has the opportunity to restore and become fully functional for the next day. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that anti-depressants target to help people overcome depression.
So basically, just like you have been told many times before, exercise is still one of the best ways to protect your mental.
Of course the Therapist would be the one to recommend counseling, but seriously. Even before my calling led me to this career path, Counseling was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. To have an unbiased, skilled professional help you through the challenges of life is not only beneficial, but it is often necessary. At the end of the day, we all need somebody, and pretending that you don’t will only place you in a position to be defeated and living with your mental unprotected. Even if therapy is not something you are able to do on a weekly basis (although this is the recommended consistency), find a therapeutic group counseling session to join. A simple google search on support/counseling groups in your local area can help you to locate the one that is best for you. Protect your mental by seeking help.
While there are many other ways to protect your mental, these are my personal favorites and the ones I most commonly recommend to those who reach out to me for help. Life can be tough, but you can be proactive in protecting your mental. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning. The goal is to overcome every Mental Encounter.
Azar, B. (2010). A reason to believe. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx
Weir, K. (2011). The exercise effect. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx