Put your mental health first

by Nick Bracks on Wednesday 09 February 2022

3 min read

One of the most important things we can do is make our wellbeing a priority.

Everyone has limitations - whether that be time, tolerance, or capacity. The key is not to try and improve everything overnight, but rather look at what it is that you do have time for. 

The past couple of years have tested all of us and have really highlighted just how important it is to focus on mental health. Here are some simple practices and tips that can help you to reframe your mindset and start putting your mental health first:

Exercise: Simple movement can make all the difference. Find a small space at home and do 15 minutes of exercise per day - it can be anything: push-ups, lunges, skipping. Or book one of many classes available at Virgin Active. Just move at your own pace!

Meditation: Take five minutes a day to sit with your thoughts. There is no perfect way to do this. You can use a mantra, focus on breathing, or be guided by our coaches anywhere, anytime Live and On-Demand. Just give yourself the time out to try.

Phone a friend: Call your best friend or a loved one and offload your stress. Make it clear that they can do the same to you. Being heard can go a long way.

Nutrition: Make sure, to the best of your ability, that you are eating well and drinking enough water.

Sleep: Sleep is critical for our wellbeing and stress can majorly affect our sleep patterns. If we follow the healthy behaviours above, we will sleep better and, in turn, have less stress.

Habit formation: One of the most important things we can do, not just for our mental health but life in general, is to learn the power of creating habits. It takes around a month to make or break a habit and the process requires discipline and daily focus. However, once a habit is created it becomes an organic part of our day and something we are likely to stick to long term. 

Suggestion

Write down every single thing you want to change. It could be a list of 100 things or just one thing. Here are some examples:

  • I want to exercise more
  • I want to spend more time with family
  • I want to re-explore my passion of playing golf
  • I want to sleep more
  • I want to drink less alcohol 

It doesn’t matter what it is, just write them all down and then circle the SINGLE most important thing you want to change. Put everything else to the side for now and focus on just making a habit out of that one thing. I can assure you that if you stick to it, you will feel better, get results, be likely to make it a long-term habit and have more confidence to revisit that list and make other changes. 

For free worksheets on habit trackers, gratitude journals, daily trackers, goal setting tools and other tips, tools and advice, you can download here:

Again, it is not about getting it right or being perfect.

We are all going to have ups downs - it is part of life. Anyone that says they are always fine is likely not being honest and we all learn from each other.

Being vulnerable and sharing stories is the most powerful way we can help each other to own our mistakes and move forward. Toxic masculinity is still a major issue and we need to give each other permission to speak openly at work and in our personal lives, and set an example for others. If we just wait around for things to change and improve, nothing will happen. Big change happens when everyone takes the lead and sets an example. And it saves lives - I have witnessed it first-hand multiple times in my career as a mental health advocate.

When it comes to mental health, there is only one thing you should not do - and that is NOTHING. So take that first step, listen to your core needs, set an example and put forward your most authentic self. 

Your mental wellbeing should be #1 priority when it comes to your health. Looking for easy ways to learn more? Press play in this Virgin Active Minds Podcast episode and walk away with better skills to build a happier, more content life.

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