While progress has been made to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, we still have work to do regarding how people, in general, view mental health and wellness. Some of this work starts by educating ourselves as individuals and identifying our preconceptions about mental health.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield
Once we do this, we can then prioritise and approach our mental wellness needs with self-compassion. Ultimately, when we show compassion to ourselves, we naturally extend this outwards, show others greater understanding, and are better positioned to help people in need.
Introducing The Pillars of Mental Wellness
Dr Nicole LePera, aka @the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram, defines The Pillars of Mental Wellness as:
- Proper sleep
- Gut health
- Silent reflection
- Community and connection
- Play and movement
- Discomfort and adversity
- Lifelong learning
Most of us are familiar with items on the list like proper sleep and movement, making it easier to direct our energies toward them. But how often do you think about the seemingly more difficult pillars?
In a culture that prioritises productivity and stigmatises saying no, play, connection and boundaries often fall by the wayside. Let’s shed light on these overlooked pillars by defining them and discussing ways to integrate them into your life.
Setting boundaries isn’t a harmful activity, and it doesn’t make you selfish or wrong. Although understanding that boundaries are essential to our mental wellness doesn’t automatically make setting them any easier.
Saying no to social functions, extra hours at work or even to people invading your personal space may cause conflict with others.
If you are naturally a ‘people pleaser’, this feels especially hard. However, it is impossible to consistently turn up for others if you don’t turn up for yourself first: this starts by establishing healthy boundaries. If this is new to you and you’d like to learn more, check out ‘Boundaries sound like’ via Instagram.
Play is any activity that we partake in purely for enjoyment’s sake. In our pursuit of productivity, we overlook the importance of kicking back, relaxing, and giving our brain some much needed time off to recharge.
Ironically, by setting aside this time to do something we enjoy, we become more productive in the long run. But more importantly, it is critical for our mental health.
We can all benefit from finding something fun that encourages us to take downtime: whether it’s reading, getting creative with an svg or socialising in the sun.
Human beings are social creatures with an innate need to connect, a requirement that starts from birth and stays with us throughout our lives. So great is our need for connection that social rejection causes inner pain akin to physical pain.
In an increasingly disconnected and digital world where we can achieve most things online, we should still prioritise face to face interactions.
Extra precautions must be taken to stay safe during the pandemic era, but experiencing social connection remains a critical part of our mental wellness needs. When you feel safe, meet up with a friend, or join a social group to participate in the local community.