One issue people of any age need to learn how to manage is their mental health. But this is especially true as we get older because there is a constant temptation to become a grumpy old man. So how can you stop yourself? Most people just drift along in life and may not be aware that they are currently experiencing deteriorating moods or understand what to do to improve this area of their life.
Generally people become aware of poor mental health, when things have started to really fall apart in their own life, for example in their thinking/emotions, their family relationships and then more extended relationships in the local community etc.
We are often able to identify a problematic area we’re facing, however there can be deeper issues and often long-standing habits that need to be addressed before the known problem can really be managed well. Often negative or confronting thoughts are the first sign of an unhealthy mental state.
You Clean Your Teeth
Every person generally has certain personal hygiene tasks they do every day to maintain their health. Such tasks include brushing teeth, showering, maintaining their hair/beard, washing hands, cutting their nails etc. This is done because we know that throughout our life, if we don’t do these tasks every day, there will often be nasty consequences that can occur such as tooth decay, skin disorders, bacterial infections and body odour etc. So generally, most people have healthy personal hygiene habits and don’t think too much about these tasks. They know their value and benefits; so they do them every day.
Unfortunately some people have no idea or little concept about how to look after their own mental hygiene. At least not until they really get “sick” like depression, or becoming very negative about life and relationships, or fearful, or anxious, or suspicious, and even envious of others who have the “good life”. Much like if you don’t shower for a few days; you’ll really notice an effect.
Now we all face challenges in life, however it is how we care for ourselves during these times and what we learn about ourselves that really matters in the long-run. It can also positively impact the next generation to help equip them for living in a more informed, positive and healthy way.
Where to Begin
We need to challenge our thought patterns; fears of what may happen, emotional perceptions and encourage ourselves in how we’ve gotten through tough times in the past. Or even how we’ve helped others through their difficulties and apply those same principals to ourselves.
Stressful life events can lead to emotional upset, confusion and reflex and sometimes irrational thoughts.. Acknowledgement and validation of this is important, however choosing to be open to approaching situations differently with changing the way we think is the far better option most of the time. This in turn affects positive behavioural changes.
You Must be Deliberate
Being more deliberate in understanding how we think, what we think about, and how we can bring healthy management to our minds is so very important even crucial to living a healthier life.
Mental hygiene habits must be daily tasks, as are personal/physical hygiene habits so important and necessary.
Put up Boundaries
Putting healthy boundaries/choices and limits into place with regards to drama, negative people, what we watch/read/listen to, limiting social media etc needs to be a constant awareness for every day. Being quicker to notice where our minds have taken us and how we can help ourselves can often lead to better time management and healthier life habits and behaviours.
Upon waking each day, start with gratefulness – acknowledging what is good in your life.
What you have, rather than what you don’t have. What you can do, rather than what you can’t do. Try to re-do these thought patterns throughout your day, especially when you notice yourself getting frustrated and negative in your thinking. It’s like having a drink of water often throughout your day to cleanse your system – gratitude can have the same effect in cleansing your mind.
Try it now
The Church has been aware of this need we all have for centuries. That’s why when you go to Church you will sing praises and thanksgiving to God. There’s one psychologist who when he treats people with depression, always asks, “Did you sing the songs in your church last Sunday?” If they didn’t he says, “I want you to go to Church next week and sing all the songs.”
I have discovered in the times when I least feel like singing, that’s when I need it the most. When I don’t feel like praising God, when I don’t feel like singing thanks, when my heart is cold, when I’m under a burden, I’m tired, or whatever, That’s when I need to have my mind renewed through singing thanks to God.
Ignore Negative Things
We live in such a negative world – drama is contagious and social media loves promoting it. This can have a subliminal negative impact on us all. However to have a healthy mind, we need to take decisive action to promote positivity in ourselves. If we don’t do this, how will positivity happen for us? Wait for something or someone to do it for us? If you want a happier more content life – you must seek after it more than you want the drama and negativity. Drama drains!
Positivity and contentment gives so much life and energy and meaning to life.
Obviously healthy mental habits may not have a positive effect or even change your external problems, but it will most definitely have a positive effect on how you approach those problems – even how you self-care.
Get Healthy Input
Choosing and making sure that what we read/watch and listen to contains healthy input for our minds, is likened to how we care for our vehicles to ensure better functioning. For those who grew up watching the news every night on TV, try missing the news for a week or so and see if that helps you feel better. Without sounding like a grumpy old man, I believe the TV news especially has become more and more like entertainment and less and left interested in presenting just the facts. They keep telling you what is coming up rather than telling you the story. They play music in the background whenever they can to add to the drama of an event. So skipping the news is actually beneficial to your health.
Practice Living in the Moment
Mindfulness practices are now crucial to understanding and helping ourselves live healthier in the present moment by making informed healthy choices with awareness. Counsellors and Mental Health Professionals often teach Mindfulness practices to Clients who are struggling, and for those who practice these techniques – there is generally a noticeable positive change in their problems and subsequently in themselves within a short amount of time. You can read more here.
Life isn’t always nice and easy, however with healthy chosen habits for holistic self care – life is far more manageable, enjoyable and worth living rather than just surviving!!
A helpful article to read is here.