I like to use the term mental wealth, as opposed to mental health, because I believe that merely “getting by” shortchanges us of the opportunity to thrive and live our best life.
Here are 5 research backed tips to help you begin building your mental wealth.
- Develop a Growth Mindset: One of the strongest predictors of success lies in having the ability to move forward despite setbacks. Just ask Tom Brady, who was 199thpick in the NFL draft (which means he was basically picked last), and sat on the bench for the first two seasons of his NFL career. He was also told that he was too “lanky”and not “fit enough for football”. Today, he is the first player in NFL history to have earned 6 super bowl titles, and some say he is the best quarterback of all time. He attributes much of his success to putting in the effort not letting failures prevent him from moving forward. In her AMAZING book Grit, psychologist, researcher, and New York Times bestselling author, Angela Lee Duckworth, shares how crucial it is to not view setbacks as personal failures. When we tap into our resilience muscles, we are more likely to get through difficult times and reach our goals. It would be the difference between saying “I failed at this” (growth mindset) and “I am a failure”. See the difference?
- Routine : I can’t underestimate the importance of setting a daily routine. This will make your day more productive and ensure the stuff that often gets put on the back burner will be more likely to get done. The first hour of your day is probably the most important one. Start your day with the routine that works best for you. I like to wake up at least 30 minutes before my kids do so I can journal and have a (hot) coffee. This centers me so by the time my kids wake up, I’m good to go.
- Daily Goal/Task List : Think about those days when you had a task list and you were able to check all (or most) items off. The feeling of accomplishment is SO rewarding. I’ll never forget the day I told my professor that I just don’t have enough time in the day to get things done. She challenged me with 2 questions: “What do you want to get done that you haven’t done today?”and “How long does it actually take you to do each item?”. I realized that the things I needed to get done didn’t actually require a lot of time spent, and if I were to print a sheet of paper with a slot for each hour, I would realize that I could have totally fit more in. (i.e. taking my car to get serviced, organizing our ever messy “junk”drawer, making that dentist appointment). Allocate specific times for each item on your list. Things that take more mental effort are usually best done first, however, I like to start my day doing something that interests me. For example, journaling or reading new research in the field of mental health are things I enjoy doing, so I will often start my day with google scholar. Whichever way works best for you is fine.
- 10 Minute Me: We tend to underestimate the value of self-care. Our natural inclination is to take care of others, which is wonderful, but if we are not taking adequate care of ourselves, our capacity to care for others is limited. With the multiple roles and responsibilities on our plates, it can be difficult to find “me time”, but if we want to bring our best selves to the table, we need to begin making self-care a priority. Since this can be something that is tough to incorporate into your schedule, start with 10 minutes a day (which is doable). Allow yourself to do something you enjoy- not something you need to get done, like exercise (unless you enjoy exercising). Find a hobby- it can be anything from playing music and dancing , to watching an inspirational video.
- Gratitude: If I had to choose one thing on the five to thrive list, this would be it. Not only because it’s the easiest to start with, but also because there’s a ton of research highlighting the benefits of a daily gratitude practice. It’s as simple as writing down 3 things you’re grateful for daily (at a specific allocated time so it becomes part of your routine). Do this for 21 days, and you can change your brain wiring. There is a TON of data to back this up. START TODAY!!