This article is written for those who are suffering from the common mental health conditions we ALL experience, and I am in NO WAY qualified to comment on a chronic or serious mental health matter that can only be treated by a qualified mental health team and/ or strong medication (and that goes for the physical issues too!).
And this is a big subject, I’m not going to pretend it isn’t, but my whole working ethic revolves around simplifying and de-mystifying what can sometimes feel like overwhelming, hugely complicated, seemingly nightmarish feelings for my clients.
I believe mental health is often seen as a very black and white issue…you’re either mentally well or not, and that’s that. If you’re not careful you can stay there, in that description others have given you, and you have given yourself. But it is really far more complex than that, and yet far simpler too….
We need many subtle influences to achieve the right balance. It’s something that we must take responsibility for, to work on for ourselves, as well as getting the help we need from others. In fact we know that we can work to improve and maintain mental health the way we work on our physical health….it isn’t always a given that you will be permanently mentally well, and you shouldn’t put the pressure and high expectation on yourself to be so. You can do certain things to achieve and maintain health MOST of the time, for MOST of your life…mentally AND physically.
Taking care of physical health is almost like an ‘insurance policy’ against illness. We will maybe do some form of exercise, not take silly risks, have regular check-ups and listen to the advice of the health professionals. What do we do to keep ourselves mentally well I wonder? Where are the ‘insurance policies’ there? We are beginning to realise that mental and physical health are intrinsically linked to each other and there is a very obvious reason why….
Your nervous system is the link between your body and mind…it runs both of them just below conscious awareness and so is where you need to be focussing your attention for good mental and physical health. It is such a primal, elegant machine, and understanding it is the key to health. It works closely with your hormonal system to keep you in balance, and it has the ability to receive subtle messages we are completely unaware of…It is run by a small gland that receives and sends these messages in your brain. It’s job is your survival so it runs like a perfectly designed, unbreakable information system. It’s like a default programme in your hard drive…it’s so intrinsic it’s impossible to delete! But sometimes it runs TOO well, keeping your body on some kind of ‘red alert’, as it has sensed a perceived threat message that isn’t actually there! THEN, It will be far too clever and efficient for your own good.
These ‘red alert’ signals are then sent to your body. They are received in your solar plexus. This is the area just below your ribs….trying to fight these feelings is impossible, and leads to most of the problems we have in the world today! (Yes, really!!) They might feel like butterflies, a nervous tickling sensation, to a feeling of absolute dread when the messages turn into panic attacks. When you are in crave mode, they are a very subtle little pulling sensation that will drive your ‘reaching mechanism’.
The link between mind and body is why it’s so vital to eat well. We can’t have a happy body if it is tired, sluggish, and in crave mode. And that physical state affects us mentally. Putting too much pressure on our bodies to conform to some kind of paragon of health and beauty is just as damaging ….being constantly on a diet does this too, unfortunately.
Your mental health is ABSOLUTELY about prevention, and so requires effort when you’re feeling well to actually maintain it. Try to see the effort you put in as an insurance policy, it becomes a very precious gift you give yourself, and a promise you make to YOU take care of yourself. You might see that the rewards are a real comfort blanket against future ill health.
HERE ARE 6 WAYS TO START UP YOUR OWN INSURANCE POLICY FOR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING…
- Think about the food you are putting in your body FIRST OF ALL! It has a powerful influence on your nervous system. ESPECIALLY sugar! (I’ve written on Henpicked.net about this!). You are programmed to feel instantly comforted with the right foods, and automatically in crave mode with the wrong ones, so try to notice when you eat so-called comfort foods that you know are really no comfort in the long-run.
- Seek out a self help technique for working directly on calming down your nervous system. I personally use TFT as the most powerful way to stop those un-necessary ‘red alert’ messages that can eventually lead to anxiety and depression if they are left untreated.
- Take the pressure off yourself! You don’t have to be a permanent paragon of mental and physical health….we ALL have mental health issues in our lifetime!
- Recognise that mental ill health isn’t permanent…there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s lots you can do the help yourself get well again. I see clients all the time who are suffering with depression and debilitating anxiety, and within a very small amount of time they re-locate their own balance…after which, they are able to use clever but simple little self-help techniques to maintain their own health.
- Find some gentle little exercises that work for you, and are quick and easy to do…mindfulness, meditation, hypnosis, talking therapies etc. There are treatments around now that can help to diffuse the effect of trauma on your nervous system. (Such as Havening). And reaching out to create strong, honest connections with one or two people you trust is the best insurance there is.
- See your nervous system as an information highway with messages that travel between your body and mind…This will help to simplify what is happening inside you…sometimes you might be feeling a gale force storm going off within your solar plexus….and then it will fade and you will wonder where the hell that came from!!….Don’t worry, it was just your nervous system on red alert…no more, no less!