Build your Mental Muscle!Aug 12, 2019
On Saturday I had the pleasure to be on an outing organised by my local gym. As part of the day, I delivered a talk on how we can look after our mental health, in 4 easy steps! I have to be honest, part of me felt like "preaching to the converted" as this group, are people who are into their fitness, health and loving life.
However, one can never have too many tools in your toolkit when it comes to looking after our mental health, even if it means to pass on the information to someone who is struggling...
Just like a muscle in the body that needs to be strengthened with regular exercise, so too does our "Mental Muscle"! I love what memory expert Jim Kwik says about memory... "We don't have a good or bad memory, we DO memory!" In other words, it is not something that is bestowed upon us, when we enter this life... no, it is something that we can exercise and develop with practice. Having taken Jim Kwik's courses I can completely vouch that this statement is true... but I can also apply the same philosophy to Mental Health... "All of us don't just HAVE good Mental Health... We have to DO good Mental Health"
In other words, we can improve our mental health, by doing or not doing certain things. :)
4 ways you can build your Mental Muscle!
1. Take Your MEDS
If you have not downloaded my eBook "Take Your MEDS, and get high on life!" you can download it for free here. Taking your MEDS is an easy acronym to remember and a clever play on words, that will help you to increase or maintain your self-care every day.
This acronym focuses on 4 key areas for you to mind every day:
If you can look after these 4 areas in your life on a consistent basis, you will have a much stronger foundation to build upon when looking after your mental health.
2. Listen to your Self-Talk
What is the quality of your Self-Talk like? Do you speak to you as you would speak to someone you love? or is it an angry, critical voice that demands all these conditions before you will be "good enough". Research shows that we have on average about 90 000 thoughts a day... and about 85% of those thoughts are repetitive and habitual thoughts... like a software program that runs in the background, driving the "machine" forward on autopilot...
Can you imagine, if you actually choose to install "new software" by choosing to think kinder, compassionate and loving thoughts toward you and others? How do you imagine will that impact how you feel about you, your situation or the world in general.
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” - Louise Hay
3. Is it Shit or Fertilizer?
I LOVE to share this analogy with my clients... at first, they are usually taken aback... but when I explain... they appreciate the tongue-in-cheekness about it!
Everything in life we experience can be viewed from so many different angles... Including the shitty situations, we sometimes go through or find ourselves in... Let's face it... Life happens, so does shit apparently, but HOW we choose to view it and respond to what is happening makes ALL the difference!
So, therefore, we can choose to see what we are challenged with as something that happens TO us, or flung at us, and roll around in it, and smear it all over and carry it like a stinky cloak until we decide to finally wash it off and leave it behind. OR We can choose to see it as fertilizer... same substance, but used very differently! When we choose to use a challenge as fertilizer, we choose to grow from the situation, instead of it swallowing us whole... Literally having us "Grow through what we go through".
"When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change." - Wayne W. Dyer
4. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
The fourth way of building our mental muscle is about our attitude of gratitude! I have found this one of the quickest ways to help me move out of a funk, or even to be able to notice the fertilizer in a situation... Focusing on something that you are grateful for in your life or in any specific situation, helps to shift your perspective on the way you look at it.
Apart from shifting perspectives, have you heard the saying "Energy flows where attention goes"? When we focus our attention on something specific, we tend to create more of the same in our lives... Once again, I have a favourite analogy that I share with my clients around this concept. If I have two potted plants here in my office, and I choose to water the one and not the other... guess which one is going to grow? You betcha! the one that I have watered! The same goes for anything in our lives... Whatever we "water" tends to grow... So why not choose to water the people, things, situations etc. that you are grateful for, instead of the things that you rather not have in your life.
I would like to put a challenge to you... Every day or evening write down at least 3 things that you are grateful for! And choose to focus on these 3 things during your day... Whenever a thought or stress pops up during the day, take some time (even just 5 minutes) to write down again 3+ things that you are grateful for. Why not take some time to meditate on the things that you are grateful for in your life daily? I can promise you, you will see a shift in your mood and your overall thoughts. Because energy flows, where attention goes, you are going to "grow" more things to be grateful for... or put differently you are going to notice more things in your life that you are grateful for, as that is where you attention is focused.
I hope you find these 4 ways helpful in building your mental muscle! Make sure you look after ALL of you! Body, Mind and Soul!
From my heart to yours,