Tuesday, 10th October was World Mental Health Day, and as all my readers and listeners will know, it’s a massively important topic for me. So, I wanted to share a post this week that looks at my Top Tips for keeping your mental health in top form!
Put yourself first
By which I mean, make space in your day to prioritise your self-care. For me, this is taking time every morning, to sit down with my journal and think about my goals, my ambitions and how I’m going to achieve them. It’s just my little reminder, first thing in the morning, that everything I do in that day needs to point towards those ambitions.
Doing that helps give me clarity and focus and, importantly, time to check in with myself. When we hear the phrase ‘self-care’ you might want to roll your eyes and say that it’s not for you, but really, it’s just another way to describe taking time to reflect on you, how you’re doing, and if there’s anything going on inside that you need to pay attention to.
Everything comes down to your mindset and being mindful. If everything around you is uncertain, your mind is the one thing that you can control. It doesn’t take much to convince yourself that things are going to be difficult if that’s your present state of mind – if you’ve decided you’re going to have a bad day, then that is exactly what you’ll have.
Think of it as having a switch in your mind. You can, in a split second, flip a switch in your mind and decide instead that you’re going to have a great day! It may sound easy for me to say but honestly, it often simply comes down to decision on how you want your day to go.
If you flip that switch and adopt the right mindset, you can become more resilient, and find that you can achieve things that you never thought were possible.
Find a strong support system
No matter what stage you’re at in your career, you should never assume that you know all there is to know about something, that you’re the only one who’s made a certain mistake or has found themselves in a particular tricky situation.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that the difference between success and failure often boils down to one simple thing – the willingness to ask for help.
I often talk about the importance of having a strong network in your professional life, but don’t forget that it’s just as important to have a support network in your personal life too. It’s something that can really bolster your mental health, so take some time to reflect on whether you have a strong support system around you and whether it’s something you need to bolster.
Challenge your limiting beliefs
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘he’s his own worst enemy’? Well, quite often, we really are, especially when it comes to self-limiting beliefs.
Self-limiting beliefs are the mental barriers we put upon ourselves, often without being aware of it, that restrict our potential and hinder our personal growth: things we tell ourselves, like “I’m not good enough,” or “I can’t do it.”
Challenging these beliefs is a vital step towards a healthier mindset and a happier outlook. Try to notice when you start having those negative thoughts and ask yourself if what you’re thinking is really true, and find a way to replace them with more positive thoughts instead.
You’ll soon start to find that you’re more mentally resilient, and that you’re able to achieve more because you’re not constantly being down on yourself!
Healthy habits and routines
Your health is your wealth. That’s something I strongly believe in and it’s one of the reasons why I make sure to exercise every day – no matter what. It’s become an integral part of my daily routine and I can’t imagine starting my day any other way.
Aside from the obvious health benefits it means my day always starts with a massive endorphin boost so I walk into work feeling fantastic. Having a routine is also a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety by reducing the amount of stress hormones being released into your system.
Remember, you don’t have to start with a big change – you don’t train for a marathon by going out and running 26 miles on your first day! You build up slowly, adding a little bit more each time, until you reach your goal. And the same is true of exercising for mental health benefits – start small, and increase gradually over time. You’re far more likely to embed a habit if you start small and build yourself up to achieve the targets you want.
Spotting the signs of overwork and burnout
It’s important to know the difference between stress and overwork. You can be stressed if you have a lot on your plate, but it’s not necessarily the same as being chronically overworked, which will lead to burnout.
Back around 2008, I remember spending my birthday sat at my computer sending urgent emails trying to push a transaction through, whilst my family celebrated without me outside. It’s no wonder I was burnt out – my priorities were totally out of whack.
But when you’re in the middle of it, how do you spot burnout? When everything around you is frantic, it’s really easy to miss the warning signs. Or perhaps you are aware there is something wrong, but you tell yourself that what you’re working on is so important that it cannot be ignored.
One of the early warning signs of overwork, burnout, or general lack of balance in your life is when your routines start to go out the window. For me, it’s that early morning workout. One day here or there is fine, but if I miss a couple of days in a row, then it’s a clear signal to me that something needs to change.
If you’re feeling overworked (or busy, but not productive), why not conduct an audit on your time using an Eisenhower matrix? Divide a sheet of paper into 4 boxes: Urgent and Important, Urgent but not Important, Important but not Urgent, and neither Urgent nor Important. Are there any tasks you can defer, delegate or discard? Are you making the best possible use of the time in your day, or are you filling it up with non-urgent tasks that you should really be handing over to someone else?
As I said before, your health is your wealth. If you’re neglecting yourself or your loved ones, then it’s a clear sign that something is wrong: make sure you’ve got the tools at your disposal to correct your course.