Mental health awareness is certainly a hot topic at the moment but rather than it being yet another fad, how do we ensure that it becomes embedded into our daily routine?
I was at an event once where an interesting question was posed: ‘Why is it that we set aside time every day to look after our teeth – let’s say six minutes a day but don’t actually take any time out of the day to focus on our mind.”
This got me thinking about the realities of modern life. The pressure of work, the endless connectivity that we now have via the internet, the numerous social media platforms, etc.
The brain is infinitely more complex than your teeth (no offence to my dentist friends) and yet we have been conditioned to look after our teeth at least twice a day while nothing is really spoken about our mental health.
The imagery that is conjured up when you say the words ‘mental health’ are of that of negative times, a scrunched up person, clutching their head in isolation and despair. And more often or not depicted in black and white. We have mental health from the time we are born and yet we only really consider the mind, when it comes to breakdowns, depression, suicide, etc.
It’s little wonder that we as a society avoid discussing mental health openly and rather push it under the carpet and hope that it is never uncovered. This lack of openness inevitably adds to the stigma that we attach to this subject and yet surely we should all embrace or even celebrate our own mental health.
The brain is capable of so many wonderful things, the sensations of joy, wonder, happiness and even dare I say it, love, but we prefer to only look at it when things seem to be going wrong.
It is like any other part of the body something that needs to be ‘maintained’ by eating the right kinds of food and vitamins. As an athlete conditions his or her body, we too should be conditioning our mind.
We all know the statement ‘you are what you eat’ and that is no different when it comes to your brain. It works or does not work based on what you decide to ingest. For example, do you drink enough water during the day, eat the right types of food at the right times of the day based on your body’s requirements? Does the food that you are consuming include the necessary nutrients and vitamins needed to support brain function?
Organisations are also realising the importance of the whole self which looks at both the mind and the body as a whole. Employee retention is based on workplace satisfaction and having worked in a number of environments which could be viewed as stressful, it’s great to hear the efforts that certain companies are taking to support their employees more fully.
Some cultures set aside time for self-awareness as part of their daily rituals, and while we in the west are beginning to speak about this publicly, there are a number of small things that you can do to focus on your mind: disconnect from the day to day, put away your phone and think, become aware of your surroundings and concentrate on you; practice gratitude in the morning, even writing down a few sentences will help kick the day off with positivity and finally, connect, not by message or email, but in person either face to face or on the phone with someone you love.
Isn’t it time that we started loving our self that little more and focus on our own mental health?
Rohit Nanda is the founder of The Business Troubleshooter.