Posted on 18 May, 2020
Today I wanted to share with you ways to improve your coping mechanisms that also happen to have a really good effect on your immune system.
Many of us know that stress and physical health are strongly related.
Keeping your mental health in check is not only about feeling good in an ‘I am coping’ vibe, but it is one way to improve your physical health too. It's an enormous subject.
This is a focus on some advice which is slightly different from the usual lifestyle stuff that we all know and should go alongside it not replace it.
Now this is not simply being grateful for what we have (although that is not a bad place to start). This also includes finding other ways to ‘access feelings of kindness’
Feeling happy, encourages our bodies to release a substance called dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a ‘feel good’ chemical, but actually there is now good evidence now that dopamine can help to boost your immune system.
Ways to access kindness?
Do nice things for people, acts of kindness. Smile at people, show patience, kindness, tolerance. You will find that this in turn will make you feel nice!
Now is a great time to start a journal. This historic period in time is worth remembering and each of us will have a different experience. Not only that, but using it record emotions and feelings can help us to seek out the positive and process the negative. Buy yourself a nice journal, take time to record the mood of the day, things that have gone well and those that have not gone so well.
Mindset refers to our outlook. We all know people, that we see as having a negative outlook. In fact from time to time even the most positive amongst us will suffer with a down day.
Firstly to improve on outlook you need to have self awareness. In other words to recognise your negative emotions, only then can you actively work to change them.
If self awareness is not your strong point, then dust off that journal again. Use it to record behaviours in the day and the effect on your mood. This can help you gain clarity if you are not certain.
Let me give you an example. Sometimes I find myself scrolling endlessly through Facebook, looking at people I do not know and wondering why I can I not be more like them? Have the things they have, look the way they look. This is quite clearly a pointless and negative activity leading to feelings of self doubt or frustration.
Picking up the phone and calling a friend, however and having a really good laugh or talking about something serious, as compared to scrolling through Facebook is very, very positive.
What I notice is that quite often the negative- outlook- behaviours are the ones that are much easier in a way, requiring really low effort. Scrolling through Facebook, lying in bed, drinking alcohol, all of those things are so easy to tap into and they make the time pass but actually do not meet me feel good at all.
Calling a friend, requires slightly more effort and attention but the rewards are much higher.
Live your values
Sound a bit cheesy? Well maybe, but the idea with this one is this.
Think of three words that you would like to define your ideal image of yourself.
The goal is that you introduce or repeat behaviours that will help to maximize these traits or attributes.
For myself, I would say fearless, funny and fit would be my three words.
Fearless, because I would like to be less frightened of things and put myself out of my comfort zone more, try harder, be more open minded.
Funny, just refers to being more relaxed for me. Allowing myself to be in the moment. I am guilty of always thinking of what is coming next
Fit. I mean physically fit! I enjoy fitness, I enjoy feeling strong, it makes me feel really good, it always has. My vanity sanity mantra is not just something I press on you guys it really does apply to me too.
So these are the values I strive to achieve and with them come the challenges which I try to overcome.
Putting time and energy into relationships that bring value to your life and your wellbeing.
As we get older we get better at gravitating towards the positive influences in our lives, friendship circles tend to shrink in size and grow in strength. Being mindful to not only enjoy the benefits of friendship but to ensure that you are contributing.
Focusing on things you can actually control in life serves to reinforce positive feeling. There is little benefit to dwelling on the things we cannot change and procrastinating in vain.
Increasing your feelings of control is helpful in your general overall wellbeing. You can apply this to boring stuff, your daily chores, you can apply it to relationships. You can also apply to the big stuff that you have going on -moving house, starting a family, planning a holiday.
Scheduling tasks can help you increase feelings of control. Having that journal, writing things down, reflecting on it, the whole writing experience can be a way of helping you to process and learn from it.
So, recap time:
Live Your Values
Let me know how you get on!