Four Steps You Can Start TODAY, to Build a Stronger State of Mind
At the time of writing this blog for Man Mad Beard Company, it’s World Mental Health Day and so I wanted to write something actionable. Something that you can put to use today to start working on fixing your state of mind and, as I like to say, kick depression in the bollocks.
These steps are tried and tested. They’re what helped me get my head sorted, get my depression on a leash and have helped me remain in control and med-free for 5-6 years now.
Enough of the small talk, let’s get stuck in…
Get it Off Your Chest
One of the toughest things to do is to talk to others and get it off your chest, but once you do… the relief is instant!
It took a lot before I opened up. I came seconds away from suicide on three occassions in the same month and still didn’t speak out or open up… it took me blowing my fuse, calling a tub of Utterly Butterly a “stupid buttery c**t” and kicking it across the kitchen, just because it dropped on the floor, before I realised I needed help.
The shock of my outburst coupled with the shame of it being witnessed by my wife and kids was the wake-up call I needed to start talking.
It doesn’t need to get to that point though.
You’re spoiled for choice these days when it comes to support and ways to get things off of your chest.
As well as the obvious options of talking to family or friends, there are dozens of phone services, text services, chat services and support groups out there.
An anonymous Twitter account can be a good way of opening up and getting support.
In the beginning it’s just important that you take the first step.
For me, it went like this;
● Spoke to my wife immediately after the butter incident I mentioned above;
● Booked and attended the Doctors the next day;
● Started to write about things in a notebook to get the thoughts out of my head;
● Started a blog (anonymously at first) and shared it with others on Twitter;
● After seeing how my blogs were helping others, I started talking and writing openly and didn’t give a shit who knew… it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, it’s just important that you do.
Getting the thoughts out of your head is a great way to clear the mind and get some perspective and you can do this right after reading this blog. Starting with a journal can be a great way to get started. All you need is a notepad and pen.
No excuses. Start today.
Get Off Your Arse and Get Moving
I’m not going to bore you with the science here, but it is proven that exercise improves your state of mind.
It doesn’t need to be a crazy, hot sweaty gym session (although if you’re up to it, do it!), you just need to start by getting off your arse and moving around.
I’ve heard all the excuses over the last few years;
“Yeah but when you’re depressed, you don’t have the energy”
“It’s easier said than done when you feel like this”
“The last thing I want to do is work out when I feel so low”
I get it, OK?
I’m no fitness guru. I hate running. I haven’t stepped foot in a gym for around six years. I love my food and not so long ago, I weighed 22 stone!... I’ve also been in the dark depth of depression where all I wanted to do was end it all.
I know the excuses… but I also know it’s a load of BS and the only thing stopping you is your state of mind!
Thankfully, this state of mind can be changed with a few tweeks to your daily life.
In order for your body to start producing the chemicals needed to perk you up, all you need to do is get off your arse, get your heart rate up and the blood pumping.
Seriously… even if you feel like crap right now, it’s just a temporary feeling. We can alter it now if you try even just one of the following;
1. After reading this, get your shoes on and go out for 20-30min walk;
2. Get down and do 20 press-ups. Rest for a minute. Do 20 press-ups;
3. Get up and do 30 star jumps and then run on the spot for 30 seconds.
Sounds almost unbelievable doesn’t it? That one of these simple tasks can alter your state?... But it works.
Increasing the amount of time you spend being active, instead of sat on your arse watching netflix, playing video games or scrolling through social media is key to a healthier mindset.
Whenever you start to feel low, get up and move. Better still, don’t wait till you feel low… preempt those feelings and stop them in their tracks. Try and take 45mins each day to do some exercise. A 30-45min brisk walk will do.
Choose Your Fuel Carefully
You become whatever you consume the most... so you need to choose your fuel carefully.
I’m not just talking about what you eat and drink… I’m talking about the content you consume too.
Let’s start with food and drink though…
Eat crap, feel crap. It’s that simple.
You don’t need to be a dietician to know that if you shovel junk food into your face and wash it down with fizzy pop or booze every day… you’re probably not going to feel too good.
You don’t have to abstain for good. Christ knows I love a pizza or dirty cheese burger from time to time. I even have my own beer brand, so I definitely won’t be giving up on the booze any time soon… but everything in moderation, right?
You need to make sure you add plenty of greens to your diet and at least four pints of water per day.
So what about the content you consume?
Whether it’s movies, TV shows, music, books, podcasts, Insta posts... you’ve got to avoid the negative, depressive crap.
Stop watching the news for starters. There’s very little going on in the world right now that’s going to benefit your state of mind. I used to be obsessed with the news and would go on little angry rants after seeing the BS they force down our throats daily… it’s no good for your mental health, leave it alone.
Stop listening to music that makes you feel sad or brings back upsetting memories. Choose the tunes that make you happy, psych you up and spur you on… especially when you’re doing your exercise!
There’s a reason music is used in advertising, movies and tv programmes… it’s a powerful tool used to invoke emotions and so, you need to make sure the music you listen too is invoking the right kind of emotions.
Look for books, podcasts, videos, insta accounts etc from people that inspire and motivate you.
I used to be coached by former world and UK strongwoman Gemma Magnusson, in fitness/strength training and in mindset and motivation. It was Gemma who once told me the following and it’s been stuck in my mind for years;
“Your body and mind are like a high performance sports car and they require the best fuel you can possibly provide to maintain that high performance”
You can’t expect your mind to work at it’s highest potential if it’s constantly been held back by the fuel you’re feeding into it… Make sense?
You become what you consume the most… Consume shit, feel shit.
Occupy Your Mind
Boredom is a curse when it comes to a negative state of mind.
It’s in moments of boredom and inactivity that the dark thoughts come, or as the old saying goes;
“The devil makes work for idle thumbs”
Keep occupied with hobbies, interests, projects, socialising, exercising…
Find something you enjoy doing and just do it.
Below are some ideas of things you could try, but seriously, the list is endless.
You know yourself better than I do, so just don’t be afraid to try different things. If you get bored or something stops being enjoyable… Stop doing it and find something else.
“You can’t live a life you love by doing shit you loath” - Paul Mort
● Learn to play an instrument;
● Strength training;
● Join a social group or club;
● Martial arts;
You never know what you might fall in love with when you start trying something new.
I once got myself a cheap camera and decided to try photography as a hobby years ago. It turned out I was pretty good at it! Within 12 months I had a successful little side-business going as a photographer. After trying different types of photography, I focussed mainly on shooting pet portraits, but also got to work in TV and movies shooting production and behind-the-scenes stills… I had some great, memorable experiences, all because I tried a new hobby.
Stuck for ideas?
Once you’ve finished reading this blog (we’re almost done), grab a pen and paper and make two lists.
On the first list I want you to write down five things you enjoy doing. Over the next 90 days I want you to make a conscious effort to do these five things more. Every day if you can. Make it a goal to focus on.
On the second list I want you to write down five things you have never tried, but would really like to. You need to be realistic here. From this list, I want you to then pick just one thing and then set yourself a goal to not only try it, but to stick with it for 90 days. Try to ride out the 90 days, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. I refer you to the quote from Paul Mort above… If you stop enjoying it, stop doing it. Simply pick another off the list and start another 90 days.
You never know what you might discover and what path it might set you down… It could literally change your life if you discover new or hidden talents.
That’s it gents.
Four simple steps and you can start them straight away.
Thanks for reading and don’t be shy in reaching out and getting in touch.