You don’t need another ‘to-do’ list… so that’s not what this is. Simply check out the menu, ponder upon the suggestions and take an opportunity to try any of them out for yourself.
The key word here is simple because after all, it is often the simple things that are the game changers. None of these ideas are complex. They’re easy to understand and easy to picture. So, here we go…
Mental Health Week suggestions menu:
- Write a Top Five. At a regular time, each day write down five small moments from the previous 24 hours that are worth remembering. You can blink and miss life so easily and this practice not only leaves you with a collection of memories but also stronger mental health muscles. You’ll begin to notice how you adapt in different situations. You learn from your mistakes and you find the good in even the worst situations. A day finished with small wins and reflections on lessons is better than a day you have written off with frustration, tiredness or fog.
- Carve out time for self-care. As a parent, you’ve heard this a million times. If you feel too self-indulgent to do it for yourself, remember that by nurturing your own mental health, you’re better placed to look after your loved ones. If the terms “self-care” and “self-love” grind your gears then just google ideas to relax, improve your mood or reduce anxiety.
- The magic window for decisions. Research suggests we have a finite about of decision making power or willpower a day. There have never been more decisions to make than when you become a parent. I found it helpful to think of a window. Outside the window, you find worse decisions or better decisions and in the window are all of the options that are ok (as long as you and your baby are safe). In most cases, there is more than one acceptable solution in the window and sometimes there can be too many options that can lead us to procrastinate and overthink. So as long as the option you choose is in the window, make it and move on. You can always change it later or try something different next time.
- Have a go to list of hobbies. Amongst the tiredness and identity change of becoming a parent, I forgot what I really loved to do. I would find myself with some spare time and I’d be lost about what to do and too tired to think of something. By having a list handy of the things you love to do, topics you’re fascinated by, books you’d like to read, a song you want to dance to, it gives you a menu of things to choose from if you find yourself with a spare 5, 10 or halfer rather than scrolling Netflix.
- Proactively seek support. If you’re finding yourself really stuck in unhelpful thinking or having more bad days than good days, then it could be a good idea to speak with a professional. A common myth about seeking help is that you need to wait until you’re at a crisis point but at Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology, for example, many of our clients are seeking support proactively too (to navigate change, identify patterns of behaviour that you may be able to change and put strategies in place to better handle situations).
So there you have our Mental Health Week menu. What will you be ordering?
Clare Desira (www.topfivemovement.com), Mindset + Performance Coach, creator of award winning Mindset Deck and Wellbeing Deck for Kids and,
Dr Jacqueline Baulch ( www.innermelbourneclinicalpsychology.com.au), fully registered clinical psychologist and Director of Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology