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What is Mental Health, and How Can I Look After It?

You might’ve seen the term mental health pop up across your headlines more prominently recently. It seems like every day a new celebrity or athlete comes out with a mental illness. Much like some of us, they might be struggling to cope with the day-to-day affairs, a stressful life, school or university, family, job, expectations…The list goes on!


And it’s often not just our mental health, it can also be strongly tied to our physical health (injuries, overweight, self-perception) and our spiritual health (purpose in life, enlightenment etc). All these results in an inability to deal with the associated stress, so our primal monkey mind goes on a wild rampage, swinging from one extreme to the other, having poor thoughts, and being unable to regulate our emotional state. Sound familiar?


It should. All of us struggle with our mental state to varying degrees. And that’s part of the beauty of it. We’re all going through S*%T! Every one of us is processing problems in our own lives. All different, but we’re all trying to do the same thing and succeed at it.


So….What’s led to the increase in mental health?


We as human beings, are social creatures. We’re designed to have clans, tribes, and communities that we interact with. We learn from each other, and we support each other through trivial times. Unfortunately, during the last 2 years particularly, it became hard for many to interact with their fellow human beings, with restrictions and lockdowns forcing us to look online instead.


The problem with going online is now social media portrays life very differently from the way we experience it personally. We look and see celebrities and athletes living large and famous lives with expensive tastes, and we think our lives should be like that. We should be travelling and living the grandest life. Everyone is happy 24/7 and looks fabulous. And we get our own little dopamine fix from endlessly scrolling through content which has become shorter and shorter, leading to more extensive reliance on instant gratification. I want it now, and I don’t want to wait. 5 min Video Tutorial on Youtube? Nah. How bout a 30-second video on Instagram? Too long! Try 10-second max clips on TikTok!

The problem is, this has severe effects on our mental health. And it develops unrealistic expectations of where we should be in life and what we should have. Life, after all is about the journey and not the destination!


So how can we look after our psychological and emotional well-being and regulate stress?


TALK to Someone!

It’s not weak to speak! And as much as one might try, no man or woman is an island. We’re here on this Earth to connect and build relationships. Get together with your good mate, family member, or mentor and suss out your problems. When we verbalise our situations we get them off our chest and out into the ether. From there we can use rationale and logic to decipher the best path forwards.


REFRAME The Situation

Life is all about perspective. If we can learn to reframe a situation with a positive lens, we can find a way through it all. Instead of I have to do this, think I GET TO DO THIS. If a PROBLEM arises, think, good, I can find a SOLUTION. The Stoics (Greek and Roman Philosophers) are famous for this! Next time you come up with problems, write it down. And logically, work your way through it. Is it as bad as I initially thought? Or can I work through this? Brownie points if you can identify the subconscious patterning behind your decisions!


Get OFF Social Media!

Not completely. But stop letting it use you. These companies get paid to make sure you are glued to your phone! That’s why it’s so addictive. It plays with your hormones and your brain to elicit a short-term happy feel response, but a long-term I feel like S*Zt result. It’s so bad that many silicon valley CEO’s don’t even let their child use social media apps! My advice? Limit your time. And cull those accounts that arent is important. Social media should bring us together with friends far away, or help us learn something new. The rest is just redundant in the long run.


Practice MINDFULNESS

Most people will think of mindfulness as being like a buddhist monk who sits atop a rock, free from thoughts, floating in the wind…and unfortunately, I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and not letting ourselves drift away with thoughts. You could find it meditating, doing breathwork, or fishing, walking, running..anything really. The power of meditation itself is as a tool to find mindfulness. If we can sit quietly by ourselves, find our internal peace in external chaos, we can learn to handle unwanted thoughts.


Be GRATEFUL

Focusing on what is great about life counterbalances the negatives that may arise. And after all, despite all the war, violence, anger, sadness, and death, life is pretty beautiful, isn’t it? We’re given the opportunity to grow and evolve as we see fit. The hero of our own story! I like to come up with my gratitude list in the morning. I put myself in to a relaxed meditative state, and come up with three moments in time I’m grateful for. But I step inside each one as if I was there to feel the emotion attached to the memory. Purely thinking happy thoughts or memories is nowhere near as powerful as feeling the emotion that goes along with it.


Get MOVING

Exercise is key to life. Run, stretch, walk, lift weights. But do something. The great Tony Robbins says if we want to change eMOTIONal state, we need MOTION. And it works. Who hasn’t felt better after pushing themselves to do something they didn’t initially want to do. And every time you callus the body, you callus the mind!


SLEEP WELL, EAT WELL

We all know how much harder a day is without good quality sleep. It’s harder to function full stop. The same goes with the food we fuel our body with. S@*t food, S@*t Sleep, and it’s easy to see why our mind can run riot. Imagine the baby or toddler who cries. It’s usually for only a handful of things. They’re hungry, they’re tired, or they want to be held. They don’t have the capacity to regulate their own emotional states. But funnily enough, we as adults sometimes dont do it so well either! So remember to fuel your body with purpose, and get your 7-9 hours sleep too!


Pick one or two of these to start implementing this week. Even if your in a good place. Because we all know life ebbs and flows. And the better our toolkit, routine, headspace etc, the better chances we have of nailing our future issues on the head!


Got questions? Hit me up in the comment box below for further advice and information…



Yours in health & wellness, 

Danegerous

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By Dane Larsen

Hi there! My name’s Dane, I'm a Strength & Rehab Specialist, and University Accredited Exercise Physiologist. I help people move better, get pain-free, and bio-hack the system. I’m passionate about empowering others to achieve their goals through a holistic approach to health and wellness.