The start of any year, let alone the beginning of a new decade, always brings a renewed sense of optimism and hope. However, with 1 in 5 Australians predicted to experience mental health issues in 2020 alone, it’s important that people invest in their mental wellbeing now to set themselves up for the entire year ahead.
Jurie Rossouw, Member of the International Association of Clinical Neuropsychotherapy and co-founder and Director of Driven says, “Many people have made resolutions to exercise more, eat better and drink less alcohol, though few commit to improving their resilience, which ironically is the trait that actually lets people stick to these lifestyle goals.”
Jurie continues, “In fact, that’s exactly why I created a friendly chatbot that’s scientifically proven to build resilience which is a preventative factor against mental diseases, called Driven. After years of working to improve my own mental wellness, I used my 15 years of research and experience in resilience to build a platform that could help people’s state of minds through fun and interactive activities that take less than five minutes a day.”
To help you be your best self in 2020, Jurie reveals a few of his simple but scientifically based tips and five minute exercises that will set you up for the decade (and life!):
- Develop purpose. The greatest gift you can give yourself is purpose. Though, where we go wrong here is that we overcomplicate it. Purpose is not something you discover – you develop it. You do this by deciding what’s meaningful to you. For example, is it meaningful to you to help people, to make a difference, to learn new things maybe? Do one of those resonate with you? If so, that can be your purpose – and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Once you know what is meaningful to you, here is a powerful 5 min daily exercise: At the end of the day, take the 5 minutes to write down what you did today that aligned with your purpose. This is important to recognise, since it could mean that your current path might leave you feeling unfulfilled in the long term, and that you should be looking at a change to make your life and work more congruent with your purpose.
- Check your bias. Interpretation bias, that is. We all have a way in which we tend to think about upcoming events. Sometimes we expect the worst, sometimes we hope for the best. This is especially important when comes to ambiguous scenarios, where the event itself is neither inherently good or bad. Think about attending a wedding – do you automatically think about how much fun you’ll have, or are you already dreading misbehaving people and falling asleep during the ceremony? When we tend to lean towards one or the other, we develop an interpretation bias. Studies show having a negative interpretation bias, where you tend to expect the worst, leaves you with a six times higher risk of depression. Taking time to notice your bias and shifting towards more positive interpretation helps train your brain to be open to good things happening. Your 5 min daily task – for one week, take the five minutes to reflect on your expectations during the day. When you had to go into a meeting, did you expect it to be frustrating? Take note of all these and see what it looks like at the end of the week. If they mostly positive challenge yourself to be open to a few positive expectations.
- Unfollow people. When we notice on social media that someone is continually frustrating us and bringing us down, it’s quite easy to click the unfollow button and enjoy some peace. In real life, we often find people who are not helpful to our mental health, with some being downright toxic. In these cases, it might be time to ‘unfollow’ these people in real life. Instead of letting toxic people slowly suck your energy, free up that time and invest it into building stronger connections with people that really matter to you. With that in mind, for 5 minutes each day over one week, try this: At the end of each day, think about who you have interacted that day and the effect they had on you. Was there someone you need to distance yourself from? Then, think about people that positively add to your life, and call at least message them. In an age of technological over-connectedness, this can help to build more meaningful relationships with fewer people.
Other key ways to improve your mental health include:
- Work on managing your emotions. Things will always go wrong, that’s inevitable. What you can control however, is how you respond. Be conscious of your emotions, and take note of any triggers you may have as certain situations that arise, as this will allow you to respond better to that same occurrence next time. In the app we always start by checking in first to help you regain a calm mind. Whether it’s through a compassionate chat, or a meditation, these are ways to help both in the moment and also over time it builds resilience.
- Celebrate your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Everyone is great at something, but no one is perfect at everything. By making a list of your strengths and weaknesses, you are demonstrating critical thinking and introspection, which are important steps in resilience and preventing mental health issues from formulating.
- Stop the blame game. It can be so easy to blame others for how you feel, but ultimately the state of your life comes down to you. The sooner you hold yourself accountable for your decisions, and take charge to lead the life you want to, the closer you will be to mindfulness.
Jurie concludes, “Ultimately you need to work at being resilient, by making a daily commitment to yourself to do your best, even when life gets hard. By doing this though, your 2020 will likely be your best mental health year ever, so I urge you to start today.”
To find out more, or to use Driven, visit www.hellodriven.com or download the Driven Resilience App.
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