1st February 2015 - Instructional

Mental Health Awareness- 5 Simple Steps to Avoid Mental Exhaustion

Mental Health Awareness 5 Simple Steps to Avoid Mental Exhaustion
In today’s society we are under constant pressure and/or stimulation and we have the access to be engaged through the power of the internet 24/7. This along with very competitive markets and industries is leading to stress levels building up. Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University has found in his studies that we are under more stress than our parents were and they were under more stress than our grandparents due to this.  Along with stress come streams of emotions, now sometimes they are positive emotions but if you constantly feel under pressure, most of the time very negative emotions such as anxiety and fear will be sitting within you. As well as breaking down the body and causing you to burnout physically, this constant negative stress can also lead into mental break down. What you have to remember is that mind, body and emotions are reacting to each other every second of the day and one never works alone so if you are emotionally or physically burning out the mind will follow. This can lead into mild or very heavy depression, depending on how far it goes before you intervene or can make you become the neurotic perfectionist or bring on symptoms of O.C.D. behaviour as you will feel the need to be in control when juggling so many challenging tasks.  

So how do you stop this from spiralling out of control and taking you down the road of fatigue, mental imbalance or break down? The great thing is that there are just a few simple things that you have to tap into each day that will prevent this.

Action point 1: Try to be aware of what stress is really threatening and which of the stresses are imagined that you are adding layers and layers to.

Really what stress can be worth breaking you down? Think about it are these stresses real or imagined? Are these stresses life threatening or will they pass? Do you add layers of worry and possible disastrous outcomes that will most likely never happen to the stress? Write down all of the stresses in your life at the moment under either the category of real or imagined. Once you have done this go the ‘real’ section and write down any solutions to make them less stressful. If you can do this, you may look at them differently and see that they are actually imagined to be worse than they really are. Keep referring to this list on a daily basis until you have all or most of your ‘real’ stress under the imagined section. If you struggle to do this, ask someone that you trust to help you come up with a solution. A lot of the time you can’t see a way out of your fear or anxiety as you are so wound up by it but others can see a solution very clearly.

Action point 2: Engage with your purpose!

What is the key thing in life that motivates you? By connecting to this you will remember that there is something greater than all of these worries that you’re living for and will start to brush them aside. Write down what your greatest purpose is and what you want to live for. It may be your family, it may be to become the greatest artist or musician that you can, it may be to enjoy yourself or it may be to become a billionaire. It doesn’t really matter just connect with it. If your purpose is connected to where the stress is coming from such as your career then most likely it will be positive stress that you are under. This is good but positive stress can also burn you out and remember when you burn out physically the rest will eventually follow. The way to manage this is by regularly taking action on the following points.

Action point 3: Recover!

It is over looked a lot of the time and so many people think that if they can just push on with their work or stay up to watch some TV then they will catch up at the weekend. As you know that very rarely happens. Sleep is vital and figure out how you can get more of it. You may just commit to getting to bed 20 min early every night, which may only equate to an extra 5 min sleep per day but if you did this every day, you would build up an extra 2 hours 20 min over the period of a month. That is valuable recovery time. Couple this with trying to get a 20 min nap at the weekend and suddenly you are getting a lot more hours of sleep each month. I know from years of working as a health practitioner and personally implementing these strategies that your outlook and productivity will improve drastically by doing this! We need to take time to regain balance within our cells, hormones and body’s systems and this will happen when sleeping. You can also try relaxing the mind by relaxing the body to aid recovery by practising simple movement or breathing drills. Try this simple breathing drill to help you wind down at the end of the day:                                                                                                                    

  • Stand with your knees soft with your body and arms relaxed and hands below the waist with palms facing up.
  • Take a slow breath in as you slowly pull up in front of the body as if you are scooping all of the air over your head.
  • Then with your arms over head, rotate your palms towards the floor and press down returning to your starting position as you breathe out.
  • Repeat 15 to 20 times then close your eyes and still for as long as feels comfortable.

Action point 4: Move!!!!!!!!!!

Add some regular movement into your day and this doesn’t just mean going to a bootcamp class or the gym after work, it means move regularly each hour. Do not fall into the trap of being hunched over your computer for more than 60 min at a time. Get up and walk, roll your shoulders, circle your ankles, bend your knees- whatever you feel comfortable doing, it doesn’t matter just MOVE! This movement will aid digestion, improve mental awareness, increase blood flow, help posture and stimulate your organs. If you are exercising regularly have a think about how you are exercising. Again there is a time and a place for jumping around in bootcamp classes, running 10k or lifting really heavy weights but remember that this will expend lots of your energy. Now if you don’t have any energy in the first place this will only break you down further, leading you into exhaustion, possibly causing you to store fat and taking you to a mental low! Try building energy through exercise or movement by not pushing yourself to exhaustion or putting energy back in by taking part in yoga, qi gong or pilates.

Action point 5: Eat for energy.

Be mindful of what you are eating throughout the day and what it is doing to your energy levels. If you are drinking lots of tea, coffee or diet sodas to keep going you will only be putting the body under more stress and burning yourself out. If you are using alcohol to wind down every night then you will not repair and recover well when sleeping. If you have lots of sugar or processed foods (especially poor quality, processed meat) you will be again adding stress to the body and upsetting your hormone balance. Snack on good energising foods regularly such as nuts, fruit, oatcakes, veg stick or small amounts of dark chocolate to keep your blood sugar levels going throughout the day. When the brain is actively engaged it can take up to 80% of your blood sugar so you have to keep it fuelled well to sustain good blood sugar levels whilst at work. Implement these strategies on a daily basis and keep a healthy body & mind!

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