5 daily steps for better mental health

If you want some simple daily mental health practices that can help you improve and maintain your wellbeing, then you’re in luck! Because that’s what I’m covering this week on Better Mental Health. So… get comfortable and let’s talk about better mental health!

I call this one ‘making a list and checking it twice. No, the person in this picture is not Santa Claus.

Want to watch the video version of this post instead? Here it is:

Trying to manage your mental health is exhausting, right? WRONG! I mean, it’s not super-easy but there are plenty of things that you can do every day that make a huge difference — and today I’m sharing five of them. Let’s jump straight in with…

Begin your day with gratitude practice — this is about taking just a couple of minutes to reflect on the things in your life you feel grateful for (funny that!). Why? Because gratitude helps you to appreciate what you have and it’s a positive way to start your day! Gratitude practice has lots of positive benefits, including:

  • positive mood
  • reducing stress and burnout
  • better physical health
  • improved relationships
  • greater happiness and life satisfaction

SOURCE: https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-gratitude/ 

For more on gratitude, check out Episode 46 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast. My next tip is…

Consume thoughtfully — and by this I mean what you consume physically and mentally. The stuff you eat plays a big role in your overall wellbeing — if you eat junk food on a regular basis, you tend to feel sluggish — and it’s the same with the stuff you watch or read or listen to… if you consume junk mentally, it has a negative effect on your wellbeing over time! I’m not saying you need to be a monk and give up all pleasures, but please remember: all things in moderation. And sorry to break this to you, but moderation does not mean every day! That leads to my next point… 

Get outside daily — you know how your house or apartment can feel a bit gross if you leave it all locked up for ages, and then if you open the doors and windows for some fresh air it feels so much nicer quite quickly? Well, you’re the same! Instead of spending 24 hours a day trapped inside, get outside for some fresh air and hopefully some sunshine… even just 5-10 minutes can be the perfect reset. Go and sit in a park to eat your lunch, or take a walk in the morning or evening and enjoy the constant changing of the seasons… two things I will say here: first, please be sun-safe (especially in countries like Australia where the sun in summer feels like it might set you on fire) and second, I know sometimes it can be really tough to spend too much time outdoors (especially at the height of summer or in the depths of winter) but there are usually some slightly-cooler or slightly-warmer parts of the day or night when you can go outside comfortably, so no excuses! Fresh air will make you feel refreshed, so get as much as you can. So, my next tip is…

Journal to release your emotions — do you know what happens when you bottle up your feelings? They stay bottled up! The stuff in your head has to go somewhere, and writing it down can help you to release all of that energy plus it also helps you to make sense of your thoughts. I encourage you to take a few minutes each day to write as a means of letting your emotions out so that you can then approach situations and challenges in a more thoughtful and considered way. And although you can absolutely do it on your phone, using actual pen and paper is a really tactile way of journalling and it can also help to channel your emotions out of your body and onto the paper instead (which can leave you feeling lighter and more refreshed). And that leads to my fifth point…

Finish your day with some quiet reflection — and by this I definitely do not mean sitting there and thinking about all of the things you did wrong or weren’t happy with; reflection is about objectively considering what happened in the day and identifying what lessons you can learn from it (without judgement). A huge part of growth is learning, and that comes from self awareness, and so thinking about what the one or two things were that you can learn from your day gives you the opportunity to take small steps each day towards being the best version of yourself possible. In my last point I said about journalling as a way of releasing your emotions; reflection is a way of turning your experiences into personal growth (and it only needs to take a few minutes each night before you go to bed). Think of it as a way to make your peace with the events of the day so that you can use them to your advantage.

And even though I said there would be five points, I’m going to be super-generous and share a special bonus sixth point, which is one of my favourite things for a sense of calm and greater peace of mind… 

10 minutes of mindfulness practice each day — mindfulness does not have to be an elaborate routine full of connecting with your chakras (but it can be if you like!), but it’s just about spending a few minutes each day to be fully connected with the present moment. Go and sit outside (or, if you can’t get outside, then sit near a window with a view outside) and just slowly breathe while you connect yourself with your surroundings for a few minutes. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you smell? What can you taste? Just observe without judgement and feel yourself being part of the present moment… doing this helps to slow you down and ground you, and being present can decrease stress and worry. I talked about mindfulness in Episode 42 of the podcast and I covered being present in Episode 83, and you’ll find both of those linked in the description below if you’d like to explore the subjects in more detail.

Whatever you choose to do is up to you; remember, better mental health begins with what YOU choose to do today!

Want more? Listen to the weekly Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast on your favourite podcast service (click here for links to different services via Podfollow) and subscribe to my YouTube channel, Better Mental Health, for weekly how-to videos.

Thanks so much for joining me today, take care and talk to you next time!

Jeremy 😃

Jeremy Godwin (@jeremygodwinofficial on Instagram) is an Australian writer, content creator and coach who focuses on better mental health. His weekly podcast Let’s Talk About Mental Health has more than 600,000 downloads and listeners in over 150 countries, and in it Jeremy shares practical advice for improving and maintaining mental health that is grounded in quality research and personal experience. He also hosts a weekly show on YouTube, Better Mental Health, which focuses on simple advice for how to manage different aspects of mental health. Jeremy’s style is direct-yet-supportive, and his own experiences with depression and anxiety (along with his formal qualifications in psychology and sociology) allow him to provide advice that is both impactful and sensitive.

#dailymentalhealthroutine #mentalhealth #bettermentalhealth

6 ways to improve your mental health with assertiveness

Assertiveness plays a huge role in better mental health because it’s about ensuring that your needs are met in a kind and respectful way, and in this post I’m going to share six ways to be more assertive. So… get comfortable and let’s talk about better mental health!

I call this one ‘person discovers assertiveness is their superpower.

Want to watch the video version of this post instead? Here it is:

Assertiveness is about being confident and ensuring that your needs are met in a kind and thoughtful way. And let me say very clearly that anybody who claims they’re being assertive when they’re being rude or unkind to other people are actually being aggressive; you can be assertive without doing harm and while still being kind, and in a moment I’ll give you a few ways to do that.

Before we jump to that, let’s take a moment to discuss why assertiveness matters for your mental health… and it matters because a lot of our challenges have to do with whether or not our needs are being met. I talk a lot in my videos and in my weekly podcast about doing no harm, being kind and giving more than you take, and those three things apply to how you treat others as well as how you treat yourself. Why? Because life is all about balance, and if your needs aren’t being met then you’re out of balance. That doesn’t mean that your needs are more important than other people’s needs, but it also doesn’t mean that their needs are more important than yours. Assertiveness enables you to state what you need in a firm-but-fair way. 

So how do you do that? Great question! Here are six tips to help you be more assertive:

  1. Start from a place of fairness and respect — because healthy relationships are about being respectful; even if that energy isn’t coming back to you, that doesn’t mean that you try to fight fire with fire (because then all you get is a bigger fire!). The point of any conversation is not to ‘win’ but to find the best solution for everyone involved; sometimes, that means needing to find a compromise because we cannot always get everything we want. When you go into any discussion with a goal of finding a mutually-agreeable solution, instead of trying to win, that means you’re more likely to actually find a solution because you’ll be willing to negotiate. And by the way, you cannot control what other people do or say so don’t even try! Instead, focus on your own wants and needs in a fair and respectful way (again, this isn’t about winning!). 
  2. Focus on balance — because good mental health is all about finding and maintaining balance. Assertiveness is about having a healthy balance between what you want and need and what the other person wants and needs. And hopefully I shouldn’t have to say this but please bear in mind here as well that ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ do not override basic human rights: the right to be treated with dignity, respect and common courtesy. For example, I’ve seen far too many people in restaurants behaving as though the person waiting on them should bend over backwards to their every whim and desire, and that is not assertiveness… that’s entitlement, and it’s disrespectful! Using that example, you can ask for what you want or need in a kind and respectful way that is also assertive (such as simply saying “I ordered fries however I received a baked potato”, without turning it into a personal attack on you). When you take that approach, you’re more likely to resolve the matter with a minimum amount of fuss… because, honestly, who has time for unnecessary drama in life? Not me! Balance and common courtesy in all things! 
  3. Manage your emotions — I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the majority of conflicts stem from strong emotions turning issues into mega-issues (and I talked about dealing with conflict in Episode 88 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast, which is available here). Being assertive means asking for what you need or want in a calm manner; of course you’re going to have feelings (I mean, you’re human!) but emotions are not facts; actually, I’m going to say that one more time for the people in the back: EMOTIONS ARE NOT FACTS! When you act on pure emotion you tend to make decisions that are less rational and considered, which in turn tends to lead to issues becoming bigger than they probably need to be. Again, it’s all about balance; this time in terms of maintaining a balance between your emotions and your rational, logical mind. Let your emotions guide you (because they help you to identify how you feel about things) but don’t act on them; instead, take time to understand what you really want or need and why, and consider your words and actions before you proceed. A little mental preparation can go a long way!
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate… (and then communicate some more!) — speaking of emotions, if we bottle up our feelings without dealing with them, they have a habit of becoming much bigger over time… so communicate early and often to avoid getting to a place of conflict. Other people cannot read your mind and instead of getting upset because they don’t instinctively know what you want or need, tell them! And while you’re at it, ask what they need often. By doing both of these things — telling and asking — on a regular basis, you’re creating a healthier line of communication… and so if and when issues arise, you’re able to deal with them quickly because you’re not letting problems fester. The only place I want to hear the word ‘fester’ is in reference to the Addams Family, thank you very much!
  5. It’s OK to say no — if you say yes to everything that is asked of you, often you’ll find yourself overwhelmed or you may wind up doing things that you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s OK to say no — just do so with kindness! You don’t need to justify yourself, either… I think it’s helpful to explain why you’re saying no if you feel comfortable to do so (because it helps to soften the blow and provides an understanding of where you’re coming from to avoid any miscommunication), but you don’t owe anyone an explanation for the choices you make; remember what I said before: do no harm, be kind and give more than you take, and those things tend to sort any issues out fairly quickly. If you’d like more advice on how to say no, I posted a YouTube video about that topic a little while ago on my channel Better Mental Health and you can watch it here.
  6. Set and maintain healthy boundaries — and no big surprise here because I talk about the idea of boundaries A LOT in my videos as well as in my podcast (in fact I did a whole podcast episode on the topic, Episode 53, which you can find here). Boundaries simply mean being clear on what you need and setting limits on what you will and won’t accept in your life. The ‘healthy boundaries’ part come in when you stick to your boundaries; because unless you enforce it, a boundary is just an imaginary line! I usually work on a three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach and I’m fairly assertive about letting people know if and when they’ve crossed a line with me. 

Being more assertive comes with time and practice, and if you’re looking for more on the subject then check out Episode 45 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast — it’s linked here or you can find it on your favourite podcast service. 

Whatever you decide to do, the choice is yours — as it is with all things related to your mental health and wellbeing… so, what choice will you make today?

Want more? Listen to the weekly Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast on your favourite podcast service (click here for links to different services via Podfollow) and subscribe to my YouTube channel, Better Mental Health, for weekly how-to videos.

Thanks so much for joining me today, take care and talk to you next time!

Jeremy 😃

Jeremy Godwin (@jeremygodwinofficial on Instagram) is an Australian writer, content creator and coach who focuses on better mental health. His weekly podcast Let’s Talk About Mental Health has more than 580,000 downloads and listeners in over 150 countries, and in it Jeremy shares practical advice for improving and maintaining mental health that is grounded in quality research and personal experience. He also hosts a weekly show on YouTube, Better Mental Health, which focuses on simple advice for how to manage different aspects of mental health. Jeremy’s style is direct-yet-supportive, and his own experiences with depression and anxiety (along with his formal qualifications in psychology and sociology) allow him to provide advice that is both impactful and sensitive.

#assertivenessandmentalhealth #assertiveness #mentalhealth #bettermentalhealth #howtobemoreassertive

6 ways to apply simplicity for better mental health

Simplicity is an important part of better mental health because it’s all about getting back to basics and focusing on the stuff that really matters, and in this post I’m going to share six simple ways to do just that (see what I did there?!) So… get comfortable and let’s talk about better mental health!

I call this one ‘literal representation of simplicity.

Want to watch the video version of this post? Here it is:

I’m no Marie Kondo and I can’t profess to be a minimalist, but I can say with certainty that ever since I started making simplicity a priority in my life (in terms of my mental health and wellbeing) I have found it much easier to maintain a more even footing most of the time (I live with anxiety and spent 2011-2017 living with depression as well). For me, simplicity is all about making choices that enable you to focus on the stuff that matters most to you so that you can then frame everything as less of a priority. Why does that help? Because when you’re dealing with anxiety, being more pragmatic about the stuff that actually matters allows you to let go of attachment to the things that just don’t matter (or that you can never hope to have any direct control over), which leads to a less-complicated way of life. It’s not infallible, and it may not work 100% of the time, but in my experience it takes away 85-90% of the stuff that can distract you from what is really important to you… and that makes it much easier to deal with the remaining 10-15%!

So here, in no particular order, are some of my best tips for incorporating greater simplicity into your mindset and your life:

  1. Reflect on where you are today — and I mean this in terms of simplicity and your overall happiness. Are things too complicated in your life? If you’re dealing with dramas and crises on a regular basis, then I’m going to guess the answer is ‘yes!’. Ask yourself these questions in an objective and non-judgemental way: What’s working well? What’s not working well? What do you need to stop/start/continue? Bear in mind that you cannot change what has or hasn’t happened in the past, you can only deal with things as they are in the present, so rather than beating yourself up over complications or whatever, choose to be kind to yourself and treat them as learning opportunities. Which leads to my next point…
  2. Identify your top 3-5 priorities in life — and this is about understanding what truly matters the most to you so that you can then choose to focus mainly on those and begin to step back from the things that just don’t matter that much. I’ve used this as a tool to help me to reshape my life over the past decade, because when I had a breakdown in late 2011 I then found myself spending a few years dealing with severe depression and anxiety which forced me to completely reconsider how I was approaching every aspect of my life. When you know what really matters to you, you can focus your attention on your priorities and let everything else be background noise (and I talked about priorities in Episode 3 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast if you would like to explore the topic in more detail). Next…
  3. Take your time thinking through your choices — Why? Because when we rush our decisions it can very often lead to messy outcomes rather than more considered ones. That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen with more thoughtful ones, but at least you’ll have time to think through the pros and cons a bit more! And let me say here that it’s best to find balance in all things, and that means not rushing your decisions but also not taking too long (because that can also open up a whole can of worms if you put off making choices that need to be made). Next…
  4. Know the difference between need vs want, — and I say this because most of what we think we need are actually just wants in disguise. Look, I need a phone but I don’t need the latest model (and in fact my iPhone is three years old and still working perfectly well). If all of your time is spent chasing after things that you think you need then you’ll find yourself having to make choices that may make life more difficult than it needs to be. At the very least, be honest with yourself about labelling things as a want rather than a need because that enables you to be more objective about the choices that you make. I mean, I know I don’t strictly need half of the books I own… but I want them, and so if I’m honest with myself then it makes it easier to be more thoughtful about what I buy in the future. And so that leads to my next point…
  5. Say no more often — and the thing is that there are so many things in life that demand our attention but only so many hours in the day, so you have to make choices that are right for you. I find that unless I’m really excited about the prospect of something then it’s best to say no, otherwise I’ll probably just wind up going through the motions or feeling annoyed that I’m giving up valuable time for something. I believe in giving more than you take, but that’s about giving to both others and to yourself — balance in all things, my friends! I talked about how to say no for better mental health in a recent video on my YouTube channel, Better Mental Health, which you may find helpful to watch.
  6. Set and maintain healthy boundaries — which might sound a bit Dr Phil to some of you but hear me out; boundaries are simply about knowing what your needs are and ensuring they are met in a fair, kind and balanced way. That doesn’t mean your needs are more important that other peoples’ needs, but it also doesn’t mean that their needs override yours. Life is all about finding balance and maintaining it, and so having healthy boundaries helps you to do that. I talked about boundaries in Episode 53 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast and also I covered setting healthy boundaries with family in a video on my YouTube channel, and you may find either or both of those helpful to explore the subject of boundaries more.

Whatever you decide to do, the choice is yours — as it is with all things related to your mental health and wellbeing… so, what choice will you make today?

Want more? Listen to the weekly Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast on your favourite podcast service (click here for links to different services via Podfollow) and subscribe to my YouTube channel, Better Mental Health, for weekly how-to videos.

Thanks so much for joining me today, take care and talk to you next time!

Jeremy 😃

Jeremy Godwin (@jeremygodwinofficial on Instagram) is an Australian writer, content creator and coach who focuses on better mental health. His weekly podcast Let’s Talk About Mental Health has more than 540,000 downloads and listeners in over 150 countries, and in it Jeremy shares practical advice for improving and maintaining mental health that is grounded in quality research and personal experience. He also hosts a weekly show on YouTube, Better Mental Health, which focuses on simple advice for how to manage different aspects of mental health. Jeremy’s style is direct-yet-supportive, and his own experiences with depression and anxiety (along with his formal qualifications in psychology and sociology) allow him to provide advice that is both impactful and sensitive.

#simplicityandmentalhealth #simplicity #mentalhealth #bettermentalhealth #bettermentalhealthatwork