/ / Mental wealth: a strategy for our times

Mental wealth: a strategy for our times

It was world mental health day on Sunday 10th October last month. That day on social media the message was clear, mental health is important. Now more than a month on I wanted to check back in to talk to you about something that’s related. Something that I’ve been working on for nearly a year. MENTAL WEALTH.

To me, mental wealth means learning how to invest in yourself. 

How comes I’m working on this?  Well – I have been studying economics on and off for the last few years.  Through the lens of what would economics in a just world look like. Here’s a link if you’d like to see the online course I take, I’ve found it brilliant, click here.

This course has given me the space to think about what a good life really looks like.  I’ve come to define it as more about mental wealth than monetary. 

A mental wealth strategy leaves you resourced to take a more long-term approach to life [1] and live well for longer.  Anyone else as inspired by 100-year-old Iris Apfel as me?  People like her are my #ageing goals.

If you are reading this thinking ‘yah yah yah, that’s all very well for her, doing courses and having the time to learn new things but let’s get real I don’t have time for this stuff’ I get you.  Before I acquired the skill set that Alexander Technique gives you I was in no uncertain terms a VBP – VERY BUSY PERSON.   And not only did I have no idea how to change it, but I also didn’t even think it was possible. 

The Alexander Technique affects your body but make no mistake it is BRAIN TRAINING.  It gave me a new type of awareness that allowed me to catch myself in bad habits and learn instead how to make better choices for my everyday health.  Once you start doing this you become less physically tense and this has mental benefits too, life starts to feel less pressurised.

This was lifesaving for me as I come from anxious stock, a family of worriers on one side who find it nigh on impossible to rest and a perpetually stressed out thinker on the other, who has continual health concerns particularly gut-related ones (poor gut health is commonly linked to chronic stress). I spent my 20’s powering through thinking I would be able to avoid this trait just by wishing them away but in my mid 30’s I experienced a crippling month or two of anxiety.  There was a trigger for it – a super stressful new job with a particularly dodgy colleague but nevertheless, I knew what I was feeling went beyond the reaction I’d normally had in similar situations.  This anxiety literally had me sitting with my back to the radiator working (always always working!) while feeling unable to do anything that resembled looking after myself – whether eating, brushing my hair or leaving the house.  I was literally sick to my stomach every day.

I got through this period in my life by writing (anything!  just get those thoughts out of my head kinda writing), walking (anywhere!) and taking a short course of anti-anxiety drugs and having some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions via my doctor.  I’m still on the fence about the role the drugs played (I was on the lowest dose, had no issue coming off them and felt none of the happiness that some people talk about feeling on medication) but the bigger achievement for me was accepting that I didn’t have to solve it all on my own and both accepting the prescription and the ability to talk to someone skilled about how to handle the challenges I was facing especially at work.

The next year I came across the Alexander Technique. 

8 years on my go-to activities for feeling good are still writing and walking.  Whether I feel great that day or whether I feel low they’re equally helpful.   Yes, I like meditation and movement and all sorts of other things too but if I put pressure on myself to do them all that can start to feel stressful so I don’t commit to those every day because uh like you I don’t necessarily have ALL THE TIME in the world.

I wanted to use World Mental Health Day this year to reflect on how I’m building my mental wealth. 

Here’s my strategy for mental wealth:

How about you?  Do you have a strategy or would you like to have one?

If you would then I’ve got a free download just for you where I breakdown the thinking and activities I do regularly to ensure I’m building a mentally rich life. To get it just click here:

Happy mental health day to you – today and every day!

Helen x

Me last month taking a quiet moment to celebrate all my mental wealth progress

[1] The Long View is also the name of a brilliant and short speech by Matthew Kelly, I also recommend it.

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