Training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has transformed my emotional wellbeing and mindset. As it happens to be Mental Health Awareness Week, I hope sharing some support in how to have a more positive mindset, and why that helps your mental health, will benefit anyone who is struggling. The ancient practices I teach were developed to support emotional as well as physical and spiritual wellbeing, there is a connection between how positive we feel mentally and how we approach everything else. It almost feels like it was a by-product of the physical training I undertook in increasing stamina, inner physical strength, lung capacity and refined breathing, balance, clearing digestion problems and balancing the energy within my organ system that my emotions became more stable and a lot calmer. A lot of the benefits came from a positive mind over matter mindset, which my clients find extremely beneficial when extended to all areas of life.
I went from worrying about everything, feeling almost permanently overwhelmed, and overthinking, to being able to calmly and effectively deal with whatever life throws at me. It’s important to point out that my life during the 20 years I’ve been training in various TCM practices has definitely not been easy or straightforward – in fact it’s been a roller coaster of deep sadness, frustration, anger, grief and anxiety, as well as many positive emotions. Life is never uneventful, unless maybe you live on your own in a cave! There will never be a better time to put your emotional wellbeing first, because you might end up putting it off until it’s too late.
If the past 13 months has taught us anything it’s that we can’t control how events are going to affect our life and turn everything upside down. But it’s also showed us that humans are infinitely adaptable, resourceful and compassionate. We’ve had to change how we run our businesses, how we get food to vulnerable people, how we connect with loved ones. In many countries the people in charge may not have kept us as safe and healthy as they could have done (and don’t get me wrong, this does make me incredibly angry), but wonderful people have taken it upon themselves to raise money for people who have desperately needed protection and supplies, and food, and I think a lot more people have stood up for what they believe is right.
The point is, although we can’t control the major events that affect our life, we can control how we deal with them. Positive mindset has become a bit of a catchphrase definitely among the articles I’ve been reading over the past year or so. The term ‘growth mindset’ is used as a synonym for positive mindset too, if your mindset is positive, you are able to ‘grow’ and move your life forwards, whereas if you have a ‘fixed’ mindset where you stick within your comfort zone, as the terminology suggests, life can feel pretty stagnant. So, it seems obvious that the way your mind is set will determine the choices and chances you take in life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us to switch from fixed habits.
In Mental Health Awareness Week it’s important to highlight the fact that every single one of us might struggle at some point, but at the same time it is possible for everyone to improve their emotional wellbeing. The best, most effective way to achieve a positive mindset is by small, simple tweaks that become your habits, and become your more positive self.
Some of these tips will feel really ‘out there’ or uncomfortable because they’re outside your comfort zone and our brain is very good at keeping us safe from perceived stress. But you can just tell your brain ‘thank you, but this is good for me’.
- Look in the mirror and smile at yourself – we need to be our own best friend if we want to make our life better.
- Same as above, but go a bit deeper and focus only on all the things you like about yourself (looks and character). Stay there until you think of at least three things. If you struggle with self-esteem this really helps to give you a more positive perspective of yourself.
- Write a list of everything you like about yourself (maybe after doing the above first). Make it colourful and fun, add doodles if you want to.
- Turn your phone and other devices off for half an hour (or a day!) – give yourself a break from the constant demands of pinging notices and the habit of checking ‘likes’ and comments. I guarantee anything you miss can wait.
- Remember that whatever situation you’re in, and however hard it seems right now, it will not always be this way. Everything changes, and you are strong enough to make that change if you know it’s going to improve your life.
- Allow yourself to be in the present moment as often as you can. When you’re more aware of the here and now you’re not worrying about the future or anxious about what’s already happened.
- Think of something funny that you heard or saw. Remind yourself of that feeling often and remember that there is always happiness in the world as well as sadness.
- Make a list of all the things you have already overcome. You have already faced untold difficult experiences in your life and you got through them all. You are strong and resilient.
- Practice meditation. One of my favourites of the ones I teach is Unlimited Light Meditation, a mindful meditation that grows your compassion for yourself and for the whole Universe
- Visualise a successful outcome for a future event you’re anxious about. Close you’re eyes and imagine yourself walking into the room feeling confident and happy, notice the colours and smells and details of what’s going on. This helps prepare you and settle the ‘fear’ part of your brain (and can take practice!)
- Make it a habit to find the good in every situation, this might sometimes feel impossible, but it is usually possible.
- Notice the beauty around you. Look around your room and pay attention to colours and textures that make you smile, take a walk in a green space and let all of your senses take in the shapes, light, smells etc. There is beauty everywhere. If you’re inspired to, paint what you’ve noticed when you get home.
- Practice qigong. The healing standing postures I teach involve ‘gazing at a clear blue sky’ in your mind, encouraging a positive mindset where you see through any ‘clouds’ (obstacles).
- Take a tiny step outside of your comfort zone. Small steps in the right direction are important to help you feel like you’re achieving something positive and encourage you to keep going.
- Let go of people, habits and things that aren’t good for your health, happiness or relaxation.
Send me a message if you need support with any of these. There are lots more ways I can help you with making your mindset more positive, but remember it all comes from inside you. You are strong and you deserve happiness. Feel free to join my Facebook group for inspiration and support for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Link to my group and Instagram below.