YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WORKOUT was trialled on Instagram over 5 weeks earlier this year. The feedback was phenomenal. One follower commented:
"I have found the last five weeks utterly enlightening, I have become so much more aware of myself, both in productive and counter-productive ways. Posting daily a brief synopsis of my Mental Health Workout has enabled me to see where and who my “true-self” is, it helps me to gain a sense of where the gaps in my overall self care lie and how I can make small, realistic and healthy changes in order to fill these gaps, which in turn offers me a more concrete foundation to build my life on and reach my full potential. Thank you Zoe for your support xxx “ - Hannah-Louise Toomey
First things first, buy a planner and plan how you are going to incorporate YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WORKOUT into your life. This is the equivalent to wearing the right workout gear, when you like your outfit, your workout goes so much further. Having a plan means that in those really difficult moments where you feel you can’t carry on or you don’t know what to do, you have something to refer to and motivate you. In effect, the planner is your gym, you can set up all your mental health exercises within it.
See if you can have once a week therapy, if not possible find your equivalent. A regular place where you can be honest, open and vulnerable. Social media encourages us to share parts of our lives that were never on show before, therapy provides you with a private space that no-one else (apart from your therapist) has the privilege to know about. Remember, not everything you do needs to be shared - it still happens, you still exist even if you do not share/post/tweet about it. Weekly therapy is a commitment to yourself and great place to start practicing doing things differently.
Acts as a diagnostic tool, challenges your isolation and your ego and helps you figure out where your vulnerabilities are and where you need to focus. Social events can inform you as to what you need to talk about in therapy. In addition your peers might hold you accountable and help you know that you are important to them but also responsible for yourself.
Exercise just keeps coming out on top as a way to manage mental health hygiene and help stabilise your mood. It releases all the right brain chemicals and also enlarges your hippocampus which helps with self regulation and memory! Exercise is an excellent relapse prevention tool.
3 x per week for a 30 minutes is a good place to start.
I’d suggest you don’t over do it, no more than 5 times a week and know that exercise can be gentle, a walk, yoga, pilates. Find something that works for you.
Using self care as a tool gives you the message that you are worthwhile and therefore helps improve self esteem from within.
You want to focus on your internals and your externals.
Try to include:
2 x Internal - Start an internal conversation with your self, listen in, be honest, be brave, be kind and committed.
2 x External - Things the make you feel good, without using them as a distraction. You deserve all the nice things in life and you have to do the inside work too.
Find a time each day to focus inwards. Find something that works for you. Guided meditations, breathing exercises and mindfulness practices are great. But you can also just go quiet for a bit, eliminate external distractions. You might discover anxieties you were not aware of, that’s OK, to be expected, they just let you know what is lurking beneath your defences.
Speak and CONNECT with others twice a day, can be in person or on the phone. Know the difference between connection and communication. Our phones allow us to communicate with others consistently but connection with someone who really gets you is different. There is something about connecting with human beings that hear us that is really nurturing, soothing and reparative. Relationship is where rupture gets repaired. Start working on it, put the effort in.
Make this personal to you. We often talk about gratitudes and affirmations and you have to get them working for you in an effective way. Appreciation of yourself and the things around you opens up space for more joy and challenges distorted and unhelpful belief systems. If it helps you stay committed and accountable, this is something you might like to share, post or tell someone about. I liken gratitude to the post workout glow… it looks good on everyone!
Get up and move around at least 4 times a day. Change your energy, take eye breaks, energy breaks, walk around the block. Sitting still for long periods of time means that your energy gets stagnant and you will start to feel low as your feelings stagnate inside you. Moving your body will also alert you to any aches and pains that need attending to.
Keep in mind, this is going to look different on everyone and you have to get the dosage right for you. Depending on what you are dealing with, YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WORKOUT can be adjusted to support you throughout and remember that if something feels like to much…. stop!
This is about healing not winning.