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Here’s how to give yourself a summer mental health and wellbeing check up!
Summer can be a great time to take stock. The disruption in our usual routines can remind us that there are different ways to live and this can be enough to help us make some simple but hugely important changes.
The summer holiday is for many people the one time when they feel they have earned the right to do what they enjoy. As a result it is a time when many things are enjoyed - some of which maybe vital for well being - but how can you decide what is vital and what is merely pleasure for pleasures sake?
It is a natural tendency for us to let the things that support us fall by the wayside at times when the pressure of everyday life demands sacrifices. I use the word sacrifice intentionally because what I see people doing every day is “sacrificing” something. Firstly because there is a hope that some reward will follow and secondly because a sacrifice is mostly seen and understood as positive thing. Everyone has heard something said like “she sacrificed the best years of her live for her children and see how they repay her”, or “he worked for them for years, put up with poor pay and now look at how he’s been treated”. It doesn’t change what has happened but it does position the one who has sacrificed as the one to be judged more sympathetically.
In other words I think people can find themselves leading hard lives because they prefer to think of themselves as someone who sacrifices. And then of course people don’t sacrifice overtime for time with their families, don’t sacrifice promotion for staying in a job they are actually enjoying, don’t sacrifice the rush hour commute in favour of a yoga class, don’t sacrifice the hour they spend each day reading bad news for an hour listening to music, reading, walking, making love… A sacrifice seems to be about giving up something we find positive…
My point is simply that the judgements and beliefs we hold about the way to approach life will affect the way in which we make decisions and not always for the best! So use the summer holidays to give yourself a mental health and wellbeing check up and heres how.
Think about and write down:
1. The things you do during your usual routines that you are pretty certain are unhealthy / unhelpful, the things you would like to change or improve for example, lose weight, drink less, exercise more etc.
2. Your life when you are in your usual routines and without stopping to analyse/censure what comes to mind list the times when you have the most positive feelings/thoughts/bodily sensations.
3. When you get the most negative feelings/thoughts/bodily sensations.
4. How this compares to when you are on holiday.
1 Write down the three most significant things that you DO NOT feel compelled by when on holiday. For example “on holiday I do not feel under pressure to get everywhere on time” again do not stop to analyse or censure.
2. Again without analysing / censuring, write down what would need to be different for example, “I would need to start working part time”.
3. NOW is the time to allow yourself to analyse and censure your reactions to these changes - so list all the reasons why you do not think you can change.
This is the point at which you will see all your judgements and belief’s - ask yourself “what of the things I’ve listed here do I actually know, where does this come from and what evidence do I have that this applies to me and my life?”.