Martin Smith

The Nine Core Basics to Good Mental Health

Posted by Martin Smith Psychotherapist 335 Days Ago

Developing good mental health and overcoming issues and difficulties has many aspects. Often there are things that work on a very personal level but I also believe there are some things that are core to developing and maintaining our mental well being.

The following are my nine core basics that are, what I would consider, essentials to a formula for good mental health and well being. I will often reiterate these core principles in many therapy sessions I run.

These nine core basics are:

Taking the pressure off - Have you noticed what happens when you are stressed or in a negative state? If you make a mistake or just don’t seem able to cope do you go in your head and give yourself a hard time? We are very good at giving ourselves a hard time when things are already very difficult. One of the first things we need to look at is taking the pressure off.

Pause not stop - If you notice how stop is a much more prescriptive and hard term. If some one says stop a while when you are very busy and really pressured it often puts more pressure on you. But if we say just pause it is a softer term we are more likely to comply with, without increasing our already heightened stress levels.

Observation not judgement - The how not the why. If we ask the question why we can answer this in so many different ways. It is also a judgemental question which causes us to question our actions. This is not always a bad thing but under stress or when we are feeling frustrated or guilty it can compound our negative state. What we need to do is interrupt our negative state, notice where we are before looking at how we might change.

]Interrupt not stop old ways and habits - So why are we only trying to interrupt rather than stop our anxiety, frustration or negative state? The main reason is that trying to stop strong negative emotional states only reinforces them due to the way we are wired. The harder we try to stop the negative state the harder it pushes back. If we work on interrupting and weakening a strong negative state we can then work towards managing it and ourselves better.

Developing the art of contemplation, suggestion, possibility - Our emotional brain does not react well to being told directly, such as “calm down” or “Relax”. Contemplation and suggestion bye pass resistance and can lower emotional charge and in doing so make room for change.

Being specific about issues - In high emotional, negative states we are often in global thinking - “everything” “all of the time” “nothing will work or change” It is important to narrow our thinking and be specific about issues - “I am currently feeling anxious about this particular issue”. Narrowing the field of thought gives us a sense of proportion to issues and the sense things might be more manageable.

Developing a better relationship with Self. (The concept of being OK) - 

           When are you OK (not deliriously happy or ecstatic) just OK, how do you know when you are OK? We can go into great details about what is NOT OK but just taking a bit of time to reflect on being OK can start to reset the mental state and thoughts on how we see and feel about ourselves. If you think about four or six months time and you no longer have the issues you have now to this intensity and are OK - How will you know - what will be different?

Developing better conversation and dialogue with Self. (The concept of better internal dialogue) We all talk in our heads, it is the way we form our thoughts. The key issue in a stressed and anxious state is the quality of that internal dialogue, notice how we can beat ourselves up in our head by the way we talk to ourselves. We need to have better conversations with self, how would you talk to a friend who had they same issues you are currently fighting with?

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Developing better connections with Self and Others. 

           (The concept of emotional regulation)

Negative states and emotions are part of being Human - trying to be happy all of the time is simply not feasible, but being able to calm ourselves and regulate the intensity of negative states is a vital skill to help us live a more fulfilling life.

    Martin can be contacted directly via email - or    

             phone him on 07 973 410 010.