January can be a time when people might struggle with their wellbeing. We can feel “blue” at any time of the year. What triggers low mood, or other mental ill health conditions will be down to the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for managing mental ill health.
Self awareness can be one of our biggest assets when it comes to managing our mental health (and indeed our physical health too). Through self-awareness we can begin to recognise that something doesn’t feel right. My Mum always taught me to listen to my body, it will usually tell me the answer. This applies to mental ill health too. The symptoms of mental ill health are not just our thoughts and emotions, they have physical manifestations too. These can sometimes be very severe.
Listen to your body when it comes to your wellbeing. Physical or mental health, if something feels different, it might be time to act. If you can become self aware of your own wellbeing and health needs, then you are arming yourself to have a more positive wellbeing overall.
Self-awareness is one of my strengths. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I’ve learned a lot about what works for me. 13 January 2023 was the fifth anniversary of the death of my Dad. I find this a difficult date in the calendar. This time round it hit me even harder than the last couple of years. The approach of this date was a period of high anxiety and low mood. It was not pleasant. I did however, plan for this. I knew I needed to practice some escapism. I took a break from work, and had a long weekend in Bedford to reflect and take some space. I was able to manage my anxiety by keeping busy, and doing a lot of walking. I walked 9.5 miles that day.
Your self-awareness can be one of the biggest defences against low mental health. If you can acknowledge something doesn’t feel right, it’s the first step towards changing that situation. I know it isn’t easy to seek help for a mental health condition, but reaching out to a GP or other medical professional is something many of us do for a physical health condition, so seeking support for your mental health should work in the same way. I know from my own experience, acknowledging I needed support/help was harder than actually making the appointment.
When it comes to wellness and wellbeing, as mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works. We are all unique, and what helps your wellbeing is going to be very specific to you. There are a few practical things we can all consider doing regularly to boost our positive wellbeing:
- Practicing gratitude – studies show this has physical health benefits too. A simple way is to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you are grateful for each day (big or small).
- Not bottling things up – clearing your mind of thoughts. There are a lot of benefits to talking to a friend/loved one about how we are feeling and sharing what is on our minds, but this approach isn’t for everyone. Writing down our thoughts and feelings in a journal can also be very effective too.
- Watch your self-talk – self-deprecation has the opposite effect of helping you to feel positive. Writing down positive things about ourselves can help to focus on the good things in life.
- Celebrate victories – focus on positively celebrating your achievements, even the small things.
- Self-care is a priority – it is not selfish to focus on your own needs. If you prioritise your own self care, you will be better placed to care for others.
Life is supposed to be messy, there is no such thing as perfect. We can all have good or bad days. Sometimes your week will start really well, and sometimes it can be really tough. Having coping and positive techniques in place can help you to build up foundations of your own resilience.
Just remember you’ve got this.