No matter what the presenting issues is, whether stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues etc the first steps in improved psychological wellbeing are actually practical steps. Our mind and body aren’t two isolated parts of the machine, they work together and constantly influence each other. So the first step to improving any emotional or cognitive crisis is:
- Drink plenty of water (and preferably only water)
- Eat healthy regular meals (even if you have no appetite or are craving mass amounts of junk food)
- Exercise (this is most crucial to all mental health issues – burn up the stress hormones and release the feel-good chemicals. Plus energy creates energy! Yes you read right, the more you do the more energy you have to keep doing)
- Get some relaxation (deep breathing, meditation, reading a book etc – Screen time does not count)
- Get adequate sleep – I always leave this one to last because it’s one that we don’t have complete control over like the other four, but we can do plenty of things to improve our chances of sleep. Just a few include: the items above; limiting screen time before bed; going to bed when you feel tired; and not staying in bed awake, so if you aren’t asleep in 30 minutes get out of bed and go do something relaxing in another room until you feel tired. I’ll will do another post down the track with more info on sleep difficulties.
So there you have it, 5 simple steps to improve your wellbeing regardless of what is causing you distress. Notice I said simple not easy. When we are struggling emotionally it can be extremely hard to do the things mentioned above, but it is important to remember that you have complete control over the first 4 and have the capacity to strongly influence no. 5. You can choose to behave inconsistently with your thoughts and feelings, they don’t have to dictate your behaviour unless you let them.
Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. Right now I want you to think to yourself “I can’t scratch my head, I can’t scratch my head, I can’t scratch my head” and while you are thinking that reach up and scratch you head…see you CAN behave inconsistently with your thoughts.
So next time you mind says ‘’I have no energy to go for a walk” or “I don’t have time to relax” or any other thought that is counterproductive to your wellbeing – get up, scratch your head, and then go do what’s good for you even though you mind might be whining away at you.