Last week was National Mental Health Awareness week . Next week at Rhodes College students will begin studying the Mental Wellness Component of their program. In our Mental Wellness Program, we present four therapeutic techniques which directly increase one’s ability to stay mentally healthy. These include Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Narrative Therapy, Schema Therapy and most recently, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.
We use a preventative approach to Mental Health issues. In the same way we exercise our bodies, we exercise our minds to increase our mental health. Here are five of the techniques students will learn. You can apply these to your own life.
1. Assess your core beliefs: Core beliefs were established often at a very early age and we are often unaware of them. If one of your core beliefs is that you will never succeed in life, or that you are “stupid”, you may set yourself up for a life filled with disappointments.
2. Become aware of cognitive distortions. There are common distortions such as “jumping to conclusions” or “all or nothing thinking”, which create a great deal of unnecessary mental and emotional distress. Challenging these distortions is a big practice in Mental Wellness
3. Practice “mental toughness”. Wasting brain power focusing on things you cannot change drains your energy. Mental toughness requires you to challenge any unhealthy or unhelpful thinking. Just like exercising muscles in your body, the more you practice mental toughness, the stronger your mind becomes.
4. Practice becoming the “observer”. Feelings are not facts. It can be helpful to learn to view your life experiences from a less personal perspective. Next time something difficult happens, practice distancing yourself from your reactions.
5. Learn to tolerate discomfort. Being mentally strong does not mean you don’t experience emotions. Learning to take action despite uncomfortable feelings, is one of the best ways to build self confidence and self esteem.
Programming your mind is not dissimilar to programming a computer. You must know what you are doing and you must be regularly checking your programs and cleaning up any viruses! The results are a much more peaceful and joyous life.