Ligia Ramos from in2movtivation discusses why a balanced lifestyle and physical health is so important for mental health, and why simply focusing on “mental health” might be more of a barrier to our wellbeing than a benefit.
How many articles have you read about mental health in the last 30 days? I can tell you that I’ve read more than 15 different “specialists” talking about and advocating for mental health programmes, tips, ideas, habits and so on.
What if I tell you that the expression “mental health” is exactly our biggest problem? René Descartes and the famous quote “I think, therefore I am” started a movement of importance and focus on the mind. Thinking began to be seen as the only form of being human. The thinking process gained relevance, starting the division between mind and body that we still see today. And this is the real problem.
If we continue believing that we have mental health and physical health and they are different and divided, we will forever be in a process of burnouts, stress blocks, and depression.
Finding your equilibriumWe are a system in which everything influences everything. The amount of water that you drink influences the speed of the synapses in your brain. The temperature of a room influences your brain’s attention and focus. The way you walk creates different types of thinking patterns.
This is not a new scientific finding; it is even a little bit ridiculous that we need studies to start believing it; you can see this for yourself. If you have a heavy meal, what happens after that? If you don’t drink anything for a day, how do you feel? If you play sport every day or go out for a walk in the park, what happens with your concentration afterwards? You don’t need a specialist to tell you this. You can just check and calibrate yourself.
We need to stop talking about mental health because it is feeding the problem. We need to start speaking about human lifestyle and equilibrium. There are some very simple things that support human equilibrium and are connected with our basic needs:
SafetyA safe environment and safe relationships. Though we are very privileged to be living in a country that is generally safe, safety is still frequently a challenge, and we definitely need to be doing much better with certain things. Some of us don’t feel safe on a daily basis, and therefore cannot relax, open up or even deal with life’s problems. Safety is what allows us to relax, surrender and trust.
RecognitionBeing seen. This is all about taking our place in society, family and work. Being seen and recognised is what makes us engaged and drives us to do better. People that are not seen often create circumstances to be seen. As a society we tend to ignore people, sometimes because they are different from the majority or simply because they do things in a different way. We usually reply in patterns and if something or someone does not correspond to the pattern, we tend to exclude it, or them. Respect is the way to go.
DiversityThis need represents the change that we all go through in life. Yet the curious thing is that as a society we often expect consistency. That is not a very human characteristic. We are, as humans, very driven to be efficient. The human system is always looking at “how to save energy”; that’s the motive, as humans are habit animals. But sometimes we need to explore and change. Some people will have this need in a more amplified way, but everyone needs a change. Giving ourselves the right to change opinions, motives, values, life and habits is a very important start.
ConnectionWe are one of the animals that take the most time to become independent. That already says a lot about our nature. We are connection animals: we need to feel like we belong to something or someone. Many of our addictions start exactly because individuals don’t feel connected. We need other people, and we need a context in which to operate. We need touch and contact.
Undoubtedly, this is one aspect that was impacted significantly by the lockdown and all the context of the last two years. Creating a peer group, and having someone to talk to and someone to hug is not a privilege, but a need, and we must start seeing it like that.
Pay attention to your bodyThere are also a number of bodily functions that contribute to a healthy body and mind. Even though these things might seem inconsequential, or simply just things everyone does, they are an important part of your body’s equilibrium.
BreathingThe way you breathe determines the way you see the world. A lot of the tension in your body comes from holding in your breath as a habit.
FoodWhat you eat creates biochemical reactions and supports hormonal production. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. What food you consume supports the life that you want to have and what you want to feel.
MovementHow you move impacts the way your brain moves. I see so many people that are really structured and goal-oriented who like to do cross-fit or muscle work, as that is their comfort zone. To get mental flexibility, it would be great if they started doing different movements, like improv dance classes. The opposite is also true: if people are dreamers, maybe a martial art, which is slow and structured, would be a great way to create mental flexibility.
For us to start talking about a new human lifestyle we must start seeing all humans as a system in which everything impacts everything.
Check out in2motivation’s Neuro-Linguist Programming Practitioner course for help in realising your full potential. In2motivation offers a number of courses within the NLP spectrum, offering a comprehensive programme focused on getting more out of life and improving one’s communication and influence.