I often talk about mental health and wellbeing as a top priority in life. It is so important that we take care of ourselves – not only our body, but, of course, also our mind.
You will see people promoting "wellness" all over, from magazines and Instagram to TV and radio, but not so many of us are talking about good mental health.
It seems there is still a stigma surrounding good mental health, which many of us in the field are trying very hard to change. One of the most common questions I get asked is: "What aids good mental health and what harms it?"
How you think feeds how you feel
One aid to good mental health is adopting the right mindset. What and how you think are very important to good mental health. Sadly, many of us are not taught "how to think correctly" at school. I am sure if we did have those sorts of lessons, the world would be a better place.
This is very important because how we think creates how we feel. Ultimately, if we want to feel good we have to think good thoughts.
We have so much power in our hands when it comes to how we feel every day; learning how to take control of your mind to control how you feel is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.
Thinking right feels amazing. Conversely, negativity harms good mental health.
Again, this comes down to learning how to think. Being negative and looking at life "with the wrong glasses on", for example; catastrophising, generalising, or looking at the worst case all the time is not going to make you happy. Negativity breeds negativity and keeps you in a cycle of misery.
It is therefore very important to ask yourself questions such as: "How can I think about this in a more positive way?" or "What lesson have I learned from this?" or "This is amazing because…"
Challenging your negativity is a great way to change it.
It may have been said before, but exercise is also a great aid to good mental health. I always endorse putting one foot in front of the other to improve mental wellbeing: any exercise is a great idea. It really doesn’t have to be hours at the gym; a small 10-minute walk in nature can be of huge benefit to mental health.
What is very important to remember is that moving your body, in a way that is effortless and enjoyable, is the best way to start. Don’t set too many harsh goals. If you do that, it will be less likely that you will want to do it and, in turn, it just won’t get done.
Don’t try to be a mind-reader
Finally, one of the biggest issues I see as a life coach is people who care too much about what other people think, as well as people who like to do other people’s thinking – for example: "He must think that I… [insert negative thought here]."
It is really important not to do anyone else’s thinking but your own.
Trying to work out what someone else is thinking is never going to work out well, so my top tip is to focus on what you are thinking, focus on what is right for you, and then let go. What other people think of you is not your problem, but what you think of yourself really is.
Jacqueline Hurst is a life coach. Visit jacquelinehurst.com or thelifeclass.com