Top tips I would give my younger self to support positive mental health, from a Clinical Psychologist

Like many of us, I found growing up really hard going, a rollercoaster of emotions, trying to navigate relationships, not least my relationship with myself. After what seemed like years in the wilderness, I became fascinated in understanding ‘what makes us tick’ as human beings, and the core ingredients to a balanced, meaningful life. I was lucky enough to have the support to follow my dreams, to study psychology and to learn how to practice as a clinical psychologist. It gives me a great sense of purpose in working to continuously develop this understanding and to share with others in ways that are hopefully helpful, where it is possible. I am delighted to share with you a few of the highlights and insights I would have loved to have been able to offer my younger self.

  1. Make friends with your nervous system! Learn to tune into how you are feeling in your body and what you need to feel energised or calm depending on what you need for the situation.
  2. Spend time with people (and creatures!) you love and feel close to whenever you can. We are such social animals, feeling connected is one of the greatest things in life.
  3. Learning to breathe and use your breath effectively to manage your physiology is like having a super power.
  4. Notice and name your emotions as they come up whenever you can, especially when they are powerful. This can really help with managing and making sense of strong feelings, creating a little distance to stop things getting overwhelming.
  5. Be kind to yourself and other people whenever you possibly can.
  6. If you are struggling with something or being harsh to yourself, take a pause…. would you talk to or treat a good friend this way? What would you say to a friend in this situation?
  7. Remind yourself that we are all just human beings who find ourselves here on this earth together, often struggling and mostly trying to do the best we can.
  8. Set your hopes and goals out clearly and keep tuning back into them when the going gets tough. It sounds simple and obvious but it can be so helpful when we are struggling to put the focus back on our values and what we are hoping for.
  9. Keep an eye on your expectations. Try to be realistic! Break things down in to small manageable parts and focus on what is possible right now.
  10. Sleep is vital. Nothing breaks you down like lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep. Whenever you can try to get enough sleep for your mind and body. Everyone is different but everything feels more manageable when you get it right for you.
  11. When it is has not been possible to get a good sleep, be very kind and gentle with yourself – it will be easier tomorrow.
  12. To enjoy alcohol (in moderation) without feeling rubbish, try not to drink too late at night. Biofeedback tells us we can’t get the rest and restoration we need from sleep whilst metabolising alcohol. So, when we drink too late (or too much) while the mind takes a rest the body picks up the pieces and causes us havoc later.
  13. To keep things in perspective, ask yourself will this matter in month or a year?
  14. Yoga and meditation are amazing resources we can tap into for balance and awareness
  15. Don’t forget to notice the beauty around you in every moment, even when things are difficult.


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