I haven’t blogged for a year.
A whole year.
Why? Well my physical health worsened and as such my anxiety became effected and when my anxiety is heightened I struggle to write, I struggle to do many things that I normally do, and had a serious case of ‘writers block’. I also feel that once you have a break from something it is hard to get yourself back into it. During that period of time I attempted to start a few different blogs, some more Endometriosis awareness related ones and ideas for sharing my ’40 things by 40′ journey, but I also started this one on mindset and wellbeing and I felt that today, being Mental Health Awareness day, felt like a good time to complete and share it, after being both amazed and impressed by the sheer number of people that have opened up on my social medias. I am writing this not just to raise awareness of mental health issues but to share coping mechanisms too:
Why am I writing this series of blogs on positive mindset and wellbeing? Well, it is an area I have interest in, have had some training on, done some writing on before, read about, carried out some of my own research on and searched out images to support this online.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I have had therapy over the years, aged 21 when my friend Laura had died, my friend Meral was seriously ill with a brain tumour, I’d had 8 asthma attacks in a 5 week period, my sister was battling with eating disorders and addiction issues (which I’m proud to say she overcame a couple of years later and has now been clean over 10 years! I asked her permission to mention that in my blog a long time ago when I was writing this in the first place and she was happy for me to mention as she was proud of her achievement too) and I had finished university but didn’t know what I wanted my next step in life to be. I had therapy again after the birth of my son, as when he was just a baby I appeared as a witness in a court case and it was one of the most stressful experiences I have had to go through, I was trying to deal with daily pain, had developed anaphylactic allergies and I was also the victim of someone making up and spreading a rumour about me and basically bullying me as an adult, which I genuinely thought people would have grown out of by their late 20s, which was causing me distress too. More recently I had therapy after my 2nd miscarriage, I did not cope with it well, plus my pain issues were ongoing and I was not conceiving again. I am ashamed of none of this, in fact I am proud that I have acted to face my demons, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism and anxiety, but I have to work to stay on top of them, work on my personal development, work on having a positive mindset and work to be successful in any way I can be and not let my problems beat me. In fact, as my health has overwhelmed me a lot recently and I’ve had more deaths to contend with, I’ve been on the waiting list to get therapy again.
I am in no way trying to claim to be an expert in the field, I am just explaining my interest and experience and what has led me to want to write about it. Now, the areas of mindset and wellbeing are vast, so therefore I have decided to write about it as part of a series, addressing different aspects in different posts. So, the first part I will address is growth mindset…
It is important to understand how a growth mindset and resilience can help improve your personal development. If you are struggling with your mental health you will find it a barrier to believing in yourself and to having positivity and it may stop you stepping forward or making progress in areas of importance to you, like your career, your friendships, socially, etc. If you have a growth mindset, you will begin to have a positive attitude which should reflect in your behaviour and your actions.
A question that is often asked is; are people naturally born to achieve and succeed? The answer is no, it takes many factors such as perseverance, hard work, positive mindset and reflection, but if you work on your mental health by seeking therapy, meditating, being mindful or accepting medication from your doctor, there’s no reason you should not be able to achieve all those factors. Einstein’s teacher said that he was ‘academically subnormal’. Michael Jordan’s coach said he was no more talented than other people. Walt Disney was told that he lacked ‘creative imagination’. The point is we all have the potential to fulfil our dreams, regardless of what challenges we may face on our journey, some people’s challenges may be physical, others may be mental, but we are all on a tough road in different ways.
According to Carol Dweck’s ‘Self Theories’ there are two mindsets – Fixed mindset and Growth mindset. Those with a Fixed mindset, who won’t change their thinking on things, and those with a Growth mindset, who can change, grow and develop, who enjoy effort and the process of learning and improving. The latter is the one we want to aim for, we are rarely entirely one or the other but are a bit of both, but Growth mindset is the side of ourselves we should be focussing on. You can see the difference between the mindset’s in the below image.
We actively work at encouraging children to think with a growth mindset now days and I, for one, think it will create a generation that persevere and have self-belief, which can only be a good thing. We currently have a mental health crisis in this country, particularly in young men, with suicide being their greatest killer, and I hold out great hope that if we address this with young children, and throughout their school years, then it will prevent the next generation following suit.
Carol Dweck has also written a book called ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’. According to her book we can learn how to be successful. The fact is that practice makes perfect, if you want to improve at something then you must work at it. If you feel nervous about trying something, keep trying, if you doubt your knowledge, do your research, if you have knockbacks pick yourself up and keep at it, see each problem as a challenge to overcome, not a setback to avoid. Learn from your mistakes, don’t make the same mistake twice, have a positive mental attitude (PMA) and remember that failure is success if we learn from it. It all sounds great on paper but in reality in life we will always face setbacks and if our mental health is one of those setbacks then we need to look at ways in which to look after that first before we can contemplate moving forward (such as therapy, meditation, mindfulness, medication, as mentioned above).
Once we’ve dealt with those setbacks we will learn more about who are as people, what we can and cannot cope with and what coping mechanisms work for us and that all has an impact on what path our life will follow. It is easy to say ‘if you feel nervous about talking to people, keep putting yourself out there’, but if you suffer from crippling anxiety that is often easier said than done, or ‘effort is essential to achieve’, but if you have depression that is so severe you can’t even get out of bed then effort and achievement will be the last things on your mind. In which case, only once conventional medical routes for support with that anxiety or depression have been attempted and addressed can you being to think about the things that are part of the bigger picture.
If people have found this useful and there is interest, then the next blog in the ‘mindset and wellbeing’ series will be about the power of praise and positive self-talk and should hopefully give some methods to overcome some of those barriers. The following one would be about developing your own personalised wellbeing strategy, one about the power of affirmations and one about support from friends.
It may feel ironic that I started this post by stating that I have been struggling lately but the writing of this post has focussed my mind and made me think about things I need to work on and strategies I should be using, which can only be a good thing. This World Mental Health Day, I am hopeful that it has had that benefit for someone else too. Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself and those around you and remember that you are enough.