I am passionate about mental fitness. It’s a critical life skill that should be taught in schools, to ward off stress related difficulties like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and panic attacks.
We know that regular physical exercise is important but put mental fitness on your agenda to live with quality. If the keys to physical health are nutrition, rest and exercise, I propose the following for mental health.
Communicate and relate to ourselves and others.
Cope with powerful emotion
Resilience over stress
Accept and nourish body and mind
Be mindful of the present
The Power of Relationships
The greatest distresses in life are often when relationships break down, with family, friends or colleagues. Equally the relationship you have with yourself is critical. Do you feel unlovable, worthless, helpless scarred or flawed?
Mental fitness gives you the tools to tackle low self-esteem so you believe you are lovable, fearless, self-reliant, worthwhile and contented. Imagine your inner voice as a coach, not a critic.
coping with big emotions
We all feel powerful emotions but for some they are negative. Suicide in Ireland acts like an earthquake in families, rupturing and ripping. Mental fitness tools help us understand that every time we have a strong emotion it is driven by an irrational thought that we can change. Try this next time you have a strong emotion. Ask yourself what am I feeling? What am I thinking? Is there another way I can think about this? What would I say to a friend who had this thought? Will this really matter in a year?
Develop an optimistic view of the world.
Make a log of the great times when you were at your best, at home, at school, with friends.
Volunteer and give back. Volunteering is a “win-win” because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves.
Connect with something beyond the material – be it spirituality, faith or prayer.
Learn to laugh at yourself. Life often gets serious, so when something makes you smile, share it.
Accept who you are. Put your energy into yourself not a social mask which will only leave you unhappy.
Take regular exercise, it improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining a local walking or athletics club connects you with new people sharing a common goal.
Find meanings and passions and fill your life with them. Take up a new hobby.
Set personal goals, both short and medium, ie read a book, learn to play bridge, call a friend instead of waiting for the phone to ring.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present, using meditation. This skill can be introduced at primary level. It would allow for a more relaxed, emotionally intelligent contented child and teenager. If depression is about being stuck in a negative past, and anxiety is about the future, mindfulness is about now.
Treat yourself well. See yourself as important and your needs as important. Whatever you chose to do, do it just for you.
Mental fitness is a pre-emptive building block to tackling and addressing some of our nation’s oldest challenges and central to our requirements for new conversations about our emotional wellbeing and (mental) health.
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