PSYCH HACK | MENTAL HEALTH AS A MUSCLE
By Laura Rogoski & William Fraser, MC
Our mental resilience is NOT fixed. Mental health is something that fluctuates. If we work on it, it can become more robust. If we don't, it can start to decline. Improving our mental health is something that takes attention.
For example, imagine we start ignoring our mental health. If we do this, states of overwhelm, stress, and trauma can weaken our ability to be happy. As life compounds, we can become more responsive to minor changes and challenges. The slightest things like a long lift line or someone not shovelling at the spot can set us off. These mild annoyances can then snowball into a mountain of stress.
On the flip side, mental health and emotional well-being can be strengthened. Who we are is not set in stone. If we think of our mental health like a muscle, it can grow the more attention we give it. We can train and sculpt it the same way going to the gym trains and sculpts our bodies. We just need to be committed. Our legs won't get into shape by going to the gym once. It's the same with our mental health. To develop it, to strengthen it, we need to continue exercising it.
Lucky for us, building our mental health is not as expensive as a gym membership. It requires conscious effort, but it doesn't require considerable time or money. No matter where we are in our emotional well-being, adding daily cognitive exercises to our routine is incredibly beneficial. Devoting 5 or 10 minutes to daily practices like acknowledging/naming feelings, setting intentions, identifying triggers, challenging negative thoughts, journaling, and meditation can be life-changing.
These daily practices are like preventative medical care. They help us prepare for the inevitable hardships life throws at us. Consider something like brushing our teeth. We do it for fresh breath, but it also prevents costly and painful cavities. Whatever technique we use to strengthen our mental health works the same way. We can feel better and reduce future harm if we keep doing it. We still might get depressed, just like we still might get cavities. However, it might not hit us as hard because we have done the work and have developed healthy coping mechanisms.
Strengthening our mental health is about finding what works best for us. Expect some trial and error. Whatever technique we choose may seem strange and awkward initially, but that doesn't mean it's not helpful. We discover what we need to heal if we listen to ourselves. We are constantly changing, and our daily practice will grow and change. When we focus our energy on our growth and progress rather than our results, we will always have something to be proud of. Just by making an effort, we are growing stronger.
Want to learn more about mental health and mental health techniques? Check out @_were_all_mental on Instagram
Here you can find resources and a link to the Mental Meetup, a free community support group hosted online every Monday. These resources are created by snowboarders for snowboarders.
It is important to note that this article is not a substitute for professional care. If you are struggling with something, it's best not to do it alone. Reach out to friends, call a helpline, or visit a professional like a doctor or psychologist.