5 things a psychologist practices every day to keep their own mind healthy
Psychologist Chanel Nesci shares the five principles she lives by each and every day to keep her own mind happy and healthy. Because we all need a little help from time to time.
We often talk about what a nutritionist eats for dinner, the products beauticians can’t live without, or how athletes keep fit and strong, so what about advice from experts in mental health? This October marks World Mental Health Month, giving us an opportunity to reflect and raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing, particularly as Aussies navigate this challenging time during the pandemic. We live in a digital age where young adults are subject to an ‘always on’ mode of working. So let’s stop and take a brief moment for ‘you’.
Letting go of what you can’t control
More than anything, to keep my mind healthy, I try to actively play a role in the things I can control in my life. If an issue, event or circumstance is causing me concern or worry, I spend time problem-solving and working out what I can do to move through the challenge as positively as possible. I ask myself- ‘what can I do, to make this situation better for me?’
In some circumstances, part of working through what is causing you stress may mean making difficult decisions and ultimately letting go of something that is no longer good for you, and that’s ok. It could be leaving a job, having a confronting conversation to initiate change, or ending a relationship.
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As cliché as it sounds, do more of what you love
We all face stressors throughout our lives. Some may be short-term, and others may be more difficult to accept or overcome. In the face of anything causing me stress, I prioritise the things that make me feel better. For me, this is picking up the phone and having a good chat with someone who I care about, going for a walk in nature whilst listening to my favourite music, and spending quality time with my family doing something active and fun, like going to the park or playing music together.
I encourage others to think about what works for them personally, as everyone will be quite different in terms of what they need. Knowing ways to help yourself through a difficult time, bad day or distressing situation is incredibly valuable.
Find your mindful moments
Meditation and mindfulness have been a recent addition to my routine and a great skill to learn and develop. At Bupa, we are currently going through a program called the Smile Mindfulness Academy, which is an introduction to mindfulness and guided meditation, and is especially great for those who find it quite difficult or unnatural (like myself).
After a busy day at work when I find it hard to switch off and relax, or when my mind is overloaded with too many thoughts, I have started incorporating short ‘mindful moments’ to help me reset. So far, this has been helpful but it’s important to remember that mindfulness is a constant journey for everyone (even for those of us who encourage it for a living!).
Step away from your desk and do some form of activity!
For me, incorporating a simple walk, as many times as I can, throughout the work day helps my mind. This may be outside, when weather permits, at the gym, on a treadmill, or even around the house. I grab my phone and headphones and I use this time to participate in meetings that don’t need to be at the computer, or for catching up on calls with colleagues.
For others, instead of walking it may be something different, like stretching or Pilates. Any form of activity throughout what would usually be a sedentary day makes a huge difference to our overall well-being. Regular breaks from computers also helps reduce eye strain and encourages changes in our body posture to offload different structures. Ideally, implementing regular change in posture breaks every 45-60 minutes is ideal for both our mental and physical health.
Understand your self-care is not selfish
Finally, it’s taken me a long time to realise that proactive and structured time looking after yourself. ‘Self-care’ is not selfish, it’s an absolute necessity to enable us to be the best version of ourselves. We don’t want to wait for a big life change or crisis to hit to start looking after ourselves, we want these habits instilled in our day-to-day lives.
I really encourage others to spend time putting themselves first. You can also educate the significant people in your life – your partner, parents, children, manager and colleagues, about what this means for you, and encourage them to think about what self-care may look like for them as well. See how this makes a positive difference in your life!
Registered psychologist and Bupa Psychological Health and Safety Leader, Chanel Nesci, has a Master of Psychology (Organisational and Human Factors) and has worked in corporate health for almost a decade.