World Mental Health Day is designed to help people feel hopeful about their mental health, by empowering them to take action and to create lasting positive change in their lives.
To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, a few of the Langley Group team share what they do to maintain their mental health on a daily basis.
“In addition to the basics of eating, sleeping and getting exercise, I try to be really aware of my overall mental wellbeing and I use the science of emotions to assist me.
I have habits in place every day – whether at home or travelling – to ensure I keep my brain healthy.
These include activities that tap into my strengths – growth is critical to me, so I like to learn new things. I read articles, research papers, books, do online courses and chat/email with people regularly about the areas of positive psychology, emotional intelligence and neuroscience to continue to stretch my brain.
At the end of every day I write a journal – I capture my thoughts and emotions, as well as writing down the three things I am grateful for during the day. This is a proven way to process emotions and I use it for forgiveness paragraphs and letters, to explore challenges in my life; it is both a proactive and reactive strategy.
I am also well aware that my mental health is supported by my physical health. The science of our physiology fascinates me and I use my body to help my wellbeing. I often stop and notice how I am feeling, I explore how those emotions are impacting me, where they are coming from and then what to do about them. This could be small on a daily basis by realising I am feeling a little lethargic mentally, realising it is because I have been flying for 24 hours the day before, being indoors, watching movies on the flight and therefore understanding that mental lethargy can be adjusted by fresh air, exercise, water, being productive and connecting to people.
If I am tired I will do my WonderWoman pose to kick start my physiology. No-one notices, I can do it whilst facilitating and it will give me the boost I need if I have only got off a flight the day before. I smile first thing in the morning and often at people in the street, or just to myself, to use that same physiological phenomenon.
I savour the world around me. I don’t really practice mindfulness meditation in the way others do, yet I often stop and savour something beautiful. I look for the good around me when I am walking through a city. In my mind, I am noticing beauty in people’s faces, clothes, architecture, or in nature.
I also find it easy to focus on what I love, so I work – a lot! It taps into my strengths every day. It keeps me energised and whilst I and the team are growing and using our strengths, my wellbeing is high! The work we do makes a difference and I want to spread the ripples further and further. Any day I am fulfilling my purpose, vision and values is a great day for my personal wellbeing.”
“Supporting my mental health is so very important to me. There is an extensive history of mental illness in my family and I have watched many of my family members suffer through challenging times. I want to make sure I am as prepared and robust as possible for the unexpected challenges that life brings.
My first support is my Labrador – Leo. He makes sure I get up in the morning to take him for a walk. He is also very social, so when I walk him, I have no choice other than to chat to people at the park! Come later in the day, and his routine kicks in again for his evening sojourn. After dinner, he is available for cuddles, and pats, stretched out on the sofa with his head on my lap, and all those wonderful things that Labradors love. Not sure what I would do without him.
My second support is fitness and health – eat well, exercise, and prioritise this in your daily routine. The impacts of exercise on our mental and physical health cannot be underestimated.”
“I know that with my schedule and variable work duties, maintaining routines is difficult, so I have become comfortable with that and have a variety of strategies to look after myself.
I know that exercise is a great mood booster for me, especially if I am outside, so I make sure I have some ‘outside moving time’ every day – even though the duration and location may vary a lot. When I am home, my Australian Shepherd Cino keeps me accountable for this, and my gym is located on a golf course with visiting kangaroos and koalas to brighten my day.
As I am now working from a home office and with a tendency towards introversion, I know that it is easy for me to retreat to my task list, and spend time in isolation. So I am making sure I schedule at least one conversation each day, as it’s important to connect socially, even if I don’t feel like it.
I also know that I am most alive when I am learning. So I make sure I spend a little bit of time each day reading, trying something new or stretching myself. This is pretty easy at the moment, because I am new to the Langley Group and a lot of my role, systems, and relationships are new and challenging. I’m feeling very alive at Langley Group!”
“I support my mental health, by firstly being open to talking about it and ‘normalising’ it. This feeds into regular conversations with my children, partner and friends. And also with my extended family, who aren’t necessarily as open and accustomed to this!
Life throws all kinds of gifts and also challenges – so the power of engaging in regular conversations and ‘check-ins’ allows me to have awareness as to what is coming up for me – when it comes up. And then I choose which tool to use from my tool belt.
I go for a walk on the beach at least three times a week, weather permitting, and otherwise, nothing beats a great cardio session at the gym. I take a photo a day for my gratitude (thanks to Frances for getting me into this!), I cook fresh food and I get away to the country where I breathe in the air!! And finally music….I take singing lessons weekly, I dance to music and sing with pride at home and in the car.
And importantly, I’ve learned not to beat myself up if, due to whatever reasons, the above may become stagnant. I’ve learned about bounceback and simply cranking up the music and making my body and heart move and groove ”
“When it comes to supporting my mental health, I equate that to thinking about my wellbeing strategies, and these have expanded enormously since doing the 10653NAT Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing! Prior to that, I had a few wellbeing tools that I relied on and they were primarily around eating well and exercising regularly – the standard stuff.
Since doing the Diploma, I still do those and I have expanded my repertoire significantly, including for example:
- I use mindfulness/meditation in an ad hoc way. I have a few apps on my phone that I use for ‘recharging the batteries’ when my brain needs a break and especially when I’m feeling tired or stressed or overwhelmed when I will do at least a five minute meditation which can result in feeling like I’ve had three hours of sleep. Often this brings clarity to a problem I’ve been mulling over or a decision I need to make.
- I focus more on relationships and connections with friends, family and neighbours. I make it a priority to connect and enjoy those relationships and look for opportunities to do that, whether over something formal like having dinner with old friends, or whether it’s having the extended family over for pizza night or stopping to chat to the neighbours in the street. I’ve started a book club with my neighbours and also a surfing group with some local mums which combines social connection with other ‘feel good’ activities.
- I more consciously identify and label my emotions so that I can more easily regulate them or decide how to manage my jobs/workload or consider what strategies to use to change how I’m feeling. That means I might simply acknowledge and accept the emotion, I might verbally tell people how I’m feeling, re-prioritise my workload or decide to use one of the wellbeing strategies already mentioned. I might take the dog for a walk, give myself a break or connect with someone, etc.
- When faced with a challenge, I think about my strengths and which ones I can use more or use in a different way to reframe that challenge, which makes it feel much more surmountable and even exciting.
- I look for opportunities to have variety or a ‘change of scene’; whether that is to vary my work hours/days/location or taking up an offer to visit a friend in the country. I also vary my exercise more now to include yoga, gym, running, walking, surfing or something active with the kids or friends. I look forward to a regular yoga date with my other half once a week.”
“In support of mental health, and having been on both sides of mental health challenges, my commitment to daily wellbeing strategies is also motivated by wanting to be the best version of myself in how I show up for others. It’s been a journey and these are some of the main strategies I use:
- Yoga – In addition to exercise, this is also my time for connection and community, reflection, and my reminder of what can be accomplished through commitment and focus and getting comfortable with what is sometimes uncomfortable.
- I meditate every morning for at least ten minutes. This has had a profound impact on my life. I don’t feel stress in my body like I use to and it brings clarity and focus to my days.
- I practice gratitude, writing down three things in the evening. I was very resistant to this at first and once starting this practice, it really shifted the way I look at every day.
- Spending time with loved ones. I am grateful for the many wonderful people in my life.
- I get into nature as much as I can. Jumping into the ocean on a sunny day is instant happiness for me!
- I am also very mindful of what I eat, eating what I know is nourishing for me. This took many years of trial and error and can be different for everyone.
- I also practice compassion towards myself and if I miss a day or more of meditation and/or fall off the health wagon, I now see this as a gentle (or sometimes not so gentle) reminder of how important these strategies are. Realising how much we can positively impact our own mental health is incredibly empowering!
I am so grateful to work for an organisation where we encourage and hold each other accountable to our individual strategies and truly practice what we teach.”
“The best thing I can do to promote my mental health is to get out and exercise at least once a day for 60 minutes. I also have 20 minutes of meditation twice a day and 45 minutes of yoga scheduled in my daily routine as it helps me to clear my mind. I find eating clean; healthy food makes me feel energised, happy, healthy and promotes my mental health.”