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Part 2 - The core pillars of supporting your mental health and wellbeing

Mindfulness, Mind, Body, Soul Wellness & Healing | Counsellor & Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach in Newcastle Australia

In last week’s blog post, we dove into the first four core pillars of supporting our mental health and wellbeing, as a quick refresher, the first pillar is nourishment, so things like water intake and food. The second pillar is movement, which is gentle and regular exercise, and as a loving reminder movement is things like spin class, weightlifting and running, but it’s also playing in the backyard with your kids and chasing your dog or simply stretching. The third pillar is sleep, so getting enough quality sleep. And the fourth pillar we dove into is environment, which is getting fresh air and sunshine.

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into the final 3 pillars, which I’m so excited for. These three are definitely my favourite and whilst last week’s pillars are based on things that are spoken about often in society, the three this week aren’t spoken about quite as often, if at all in your life so this information is going to be incredible for you!

Support systems: habits, routines, rituals and relationships in your life.

I’m going to discuss this pillar in two parts. The first part is habits, routines and rituals. I found a beautiful quote by Mina Tadros that I want to share with you to start this pillar off, "if you want to change your world, you need to start cultivating good habits."

Habits, routines and rituals help us find stability and safety when everything else may feel overwhelming. When we create them, we are taking control of our lives and we are able to direct our focus towards what is truly important to us.

Researchers have found that routines can have incredible benefits for our mental health, such as alleviating bipolar disorder, ADHD and insomnia. Dr. Steve Orma also says routines alleviate anxiety and stress.

Habits help us feel more in control of our lives. It helps us to feel calmer, more focused and productive and less stressed. You will also find a sense of stability and consistency in life.

So are your habits, routines and rituals supporting the life you want to create? Do you feel any shame, guilt or disappointment over a particular action or behaviour? Do your friends or family make comments about anything in particular?

In general, a bad habit keeps you from being your best. It could harm your health or wellbeing. And it may encourage negative behaviour. Good habits are the opposite, they empower you, support you and nourish your overall health and wellbeing.

Take some time to determine what habits you currently have and if they are considered supportive or not and start working on eliminating a few at a time and when you know which habits you'd like to eliminate, you may want to replace them with some healthier habits that support you instead. I’m going to give you some ideas, but this list is not exhaustive and you may not like any of the ideas which is okay! Your habits need to reflect you, your lifestyle and the kind of life you want to live so don't use my list as gospel.

  • open your windows for fresh air

  • make your bed

  • stand at your desk

  • wear sunscreen

  • prioritise your sleep

  • floss your teeth

  • pull oracle cards

  • drink water when you wake up

  • eat breakfast daily

  • practise yoga

  • drink less coffee

  • eat lunch outside

  • do random acts of kindness

  • do a digital detox

  • go to bed earlier

  • ask for help

  • prioritise your to-do list

  • read more

  • compliment strangers

  • read to your kids

The second part of the support systems pillars is relationships. When we have healthy relationships in our life, we are able to seek practical and emotional support from somebody outside of ourselves. This means we will have someone to rely on when we need them the most, and also just through the usual stages of life.

Research has shown that having a support system of healthy relationships will have a positive impact on your mental health. It is especially important for women, older adults, patients, students and workers.

There have been studies that show depression, loneliness and altered brain function are linked with poor support systems. The altered brain functions can make people more susceptible to concerns such as alcohol use, depression and suicide.

One particular study of men who had strong support systems were less likely to die than those that didn't. This study was of middle-aged men and conducted over a 7-year span.

Researchers have also found that stress is managed more easily when support systems are in place.

There are three different kinds of relationship support you can have, and I might actually do an individual episode on this alone, but I’ll briefly explain them to you now.

Emotional support: people and services you can lean on to support you through times of emotional difficulties. Some examples are partners, close friends, therapists or family members.

Informational support: people and services you can lean on that gives advice, guidance, mentoring and information. Some examples are therapists, coaches, mentors or doctors.

Instrumental support: people or services that take care of your physical needs when you may need it. Some examples are cleaners, nannies, grocery delivery services or respite care.

Your support system can look like:

  • romantic partner

  • parents

  • siblings

  • grandparents

  • friends

  • work colleagues

  • neighbours

  • school peers

  • counsellors

  • coaches

  • doctors

  • mentors

  • cleaners

  • childcare/ nannies

I have three key questions you can ask yourself to help assess and build your relationship support.

  • What is it that I need or want from my support system right now? Maybe it’s help with the housework, or a personal assistant, maybe it’s some counselling.

  • Do I need more variety in my support system? It’s important we have a mix of personal and professional support, so things like friends and family but also things like a counsellor or coach of some kind

  • Do I need to nurture or commit to the support I currently have? Look into the relationships you currently have and determine if maybe you need to put a little TLC into some friendships, or maybe you only half-heartedly attend counselling. And of course, do this without judgement and only with love.

From here, you can begin to look for ways to build on your support system. Some starting points may be:

  • reaching out to friends and family

  • using technology to meet with new people, connect with old relationships and join clubs or groups to those with similar interests

  • similarly as above, connect with people who share the same interests as you by starting at a new gym or joining a local club

  • hire the appropriate professional support you need

Mindfulness: down time, rest, relaxation and presence within the body.

Mindfulness is a key part of my work with clients, and for good reason.

Mindfulness allows us to fully attend to what's happening right here, right now. It's our ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we're doing and not be overwhelmed or over reactive about the things happen around or 'to' us.

When we're not being mindful, we're usually living on autopilot and missing the beauty of the current moment.

Researchers reviewed more than 200 studies and the results were incredible. Mindfulness was especially effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It has been shown to help with chronic pain, addiction and fatigue.

It has also found that mindfulness can boost the immune system, reduce stress levels and improve emotional regulation.

Mindfulness is available to us every second of the day. There are many tools and techniques that can be used as mindfulness, which I will go into however to begin with, I wanted to share that practising mindfulness can be as simple as bringing your attention back to your body, breath and surroundings.

I recommend practising mindfulness as often as you can. We're all human and will get caught up in the day-to-day, but as often as you can bring yourself to the present moment, the more benefits you will notice.

There are SO many tools and techniques that I could go into here, but I’m just going to give a few examples for you to explore and see what works for you:

  • meditation

  • body scanning

  • mindful stretching or eating

  • practicing gratitude

  • taking regular breaks throughout the day

  • reading

Mindfulness is really a way of living. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something else to add to your to-do list, it can be as simple as slowing down with each every day activity you do and using your different senses to tune into right now.

Emotional wellbeing: nervous system support, thriving within all parts of yourself.

I will just briefly mention this pillar as there is SO much information to provide on emotional wellbeing that I could be here for days, so I’ll just give some basic info!

Our emotional wellbeing is going to help us be aware, understand and accept our feelings and emotions. It is also about our ability to manage difficult times or changes in our life. I really believe our emotional wellbeing is really about understanding our mental health and being able to support ourselves through our life, no matter what comes up.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), emotional well-being is important because it can affect how people function and carry out everyday tasks.

It can also affect how well individuals are able to handle stressful situations and challenges, how they adapt to change, and how they respond to difficult life events.

Emotional well-being can affect relationships, work, and overall mental and physical health.

Issues with emotional well-being can also affect physical health and may lead to higher blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and increased illness.

The good news is that everything I’ve mentioned within the core pillars supports your emotional wellbeing, so if you implement all of these pillars into your life, you’re emotional wellbeing will strengthen!

In saying that, our emotional wellbeing is directly connected to our nervous system, so I did want to talk about nervous system support a little before wrapping this blog post up!

One of the key contributors to mental health issues is a dysregulated nervous system. When our nervous system is dysregulated, it can cause us to respond inappropriately to events, people or circumstances. That could be over-reacting or under-reacting.

This is generally caused by unresolved traumas or stress responses from our past, which then can lead into mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep issues, chronic fatigue and as previously mentioned, inappropriate behaviours.

Some symptoms of having a dysregulated nervous system are:

  • being easily overwhelmed

  • crying or feeling upset for 'no reason'

  • frequent mood shifts

  • substance abuse

  • suicidal thoughts

  • self-harm

  • angry outbursts

  • depression

  • high levels of anxiety

  • perfectionism

  • feeling overly emotional

  • impulsivity

  • unable to cope with stress

  • disordered eating

The good news is we can re-regulate our body and brain by using somatic techniques. I'm going to include some of my favourite techniques I use, however there are SO many out there. Find what works for you and leave the rest behind.

  • breathwork: there are loads of different techniques you can use for breathwork, but starting at the basics is probably the best option if you’re new to breathwork. This is simply deep breathing in through your nose, down into your belly, holding for a moment and exhaling through your mouth.

  • cold therapy: holding or eating ice, doing cold plunges, drink ice cold water, standing in front of the fridge

  • grounding statements: A grounding statement is quite similar to an affirmation. They are a positive statement that we repeat to soothe emotions. They help remind us of something that is already true and gives our body a reminder to notice the present moment. An example of this could be ‘I am safe in this moment’.

We will never be able to entirely control our nervous system, but the goal is to have a balance and hopefully allow us to move into a regulated state as easily and quickly as possible.

As I close out this blog post, I wanted to remind you wherever you are on your journey, you are not broken, and you don't need to be fixed.

We all have stages of life where our mental health is overwhelming and not necessarily supported how we would like, it's part of life. It doesn't mean you have failed. It doesn't mean you don't care. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. It means you are a human being, having a human experience.

As you navigate your journey and your life, keep in mind that there are many resources available to you and with the right support, you can overcome any obstacle. You are strong, capable, and deserving of a happy and healthy life.

Wherever you go next is up to you, but just know that I am cheering you on. I am supporting you from afar and you've got this.

If you’d like to dive any deeper into supporting your mental health and wellbeing, I do have spaces available for new clients, including afterhours appointments, you can book a free chat to see if I’m the right counsellor and coach for you, or you can go ahead and book a session if you know you’d like to work together!

With love & support,

Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective

Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach



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