Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Staying Mentally Fit

There's such a huge emphasis on keeping physically tight taunt and terrific that I never even gave my mental wellbeing a second thought.

That was until I became incredibly ill.

It was then that I realized that it didn't matter whether I had muffin tops, or skinny none touching and chaffing thighs or not;  being mentally unwell was the worst.

From that point in time I made a promise to myself to take each day as it comes and to make my main priority my mental wellbeing.

So what does it mean to be mentally fit?

In my eyes,  being mentally fit is the ability to recognize unhelpful thoughts and to change them into a more positive mindset to improve your overall outlook on both yourself and the life that you are choosing to live.

In order to be mentally fit you must learn to respect yourself and your decisions,  so that you can positively reinforce your mind.

How do I keep a mentally fit mind?

Just like having that wham bam thankyou man body requires commitment and exercise, it does take time and conscious effort to shape a mentally fit mind.

Often the word mindfulness is thrown around as a helpful tool for optimizing happiness.

Basically, mindfulness is the ability to live in the moment,  and to appreciate the beauty in your surroundings.

There's no point worrying about the future too much,  for you're not giving yourself the opportunity to enjoy the present.

I used to find myself worrying about things I'd said and done and how such and such might view me differently because of this and that.  I had no self confidence or worth so I put everyone else's needs before myself because I didn't respect my own wellbeing and I wanted to please people.

I thought saying no to commitments to spend time doing the things I wanted was selfish.

What I didn't realize was that the negative thoughts circulating in my mind,  telling me my opinions didn't matter, that I wasn't good enough,  to bite my tongue,  just say yes,  nod and agree and so on and so forth,  meant that slowly over time,  I was wearing myself down, until it began to affect my emotions and eventually my behavior.

I'd bullied myself to breaking point.

Thinking back I was the school yard bitch,  except that I wasn't picking on other kids,  instead,  I was abusing myself.

I would never ever let anyone treat my friends the way I treated myself,  but that was okay because well it was just little old me.

After I recovered from my illness I realized I had to make big changes to my mental well being diet.

So what's my new diet?

-I feed my mind with positive affirmations about my abilities,  and the accomplishments that I make every single day.

-Every time a negative thought enters into my head I picture a stop sign and force myself to recognize that the thought isn't helpful, nor factual and that I create a distraction or diversion from thinking that way.

-I practice deep full belly breaths.  I learnt to do this by placing both hands on my belly in a seated position with my legs shoulder width apart. When you breath in you should feel your belly inflat and when you exhale heavily through your nose or mouth you should feel your belly deflate.  I find this technique really useful and quite unrecognizable when in stressful situations or if I'm really tired.

-I say no to requests if I really don't feel up to it because I'm stressed,  run down,  tired, just don't really want to or if I want to focus on something else.

-I stick up for myself because I value my opinion and trust my feelings.  Sometimes that can be incredibly difficult and confrontational but I have learnt to write down what I want to say first, with possible solutions or suggestions,  practice it,  and then chuck in a few deep breaths, positive affirmations and trust myself.

-I have key words that change my thinking instantly.  If I'm in bed and struggling to switch off the minute I say sleep time I'm out like a light.  This took practice to distract your mind wondering with the stop sign that I was talking about earlier but helps.

-If I really can't sleep I practice a technique where you start thinking about your little toe and clenching your muscles and you work your way through every limb and distraction from the thoughts keeping you awake helps you to sleep.

-I really pay attention to the sunsets and rises, the color of the sky and the shape of the clouds,  the feel of the warm sun on your skin,  the smell of yummy foods and the little, beautiful things in life.  It really is refreshing and feels you with appreciation and happiness.

-I take my medication and I don't feel one bit guilty or selfish or giddy or out of character or anything.  I feel alive.

-I write my blog.  Everyone must have an outlet from the craziness of life whether it's smashing it on the footy field or singing,  dancing,  knitting or painting.  My blog is my release and allows me to put my thoughts on paper and out of my mind and it has helped me to grow confidence in myself and to work through my struggles.

As you can see there's many ways to stay mentally fit; and just like a trim, taunt and terrific body it takes a healthy diet of positive thoughts and exercise to learn ways to manage the negative thoughts to turn your brain into one strong and healthy mind.

Do you have any tips for keeping mentally fit?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx

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