If you discovered that certain foods make you unwell, you'd not only avoid them, you'd find something healthier to eat. It's the same with mental health. You need to both identify the things you find challenging and discover the things that help you stay resilient too.
If you want to manage your Wellbeing, it helps enormously to identify the things that might make your day more challenging.
This is the mental-health equivalent of discovering a food that you’re intolerant to. I find this analogy helpful. That's because, even though food allergies are really quite obvious (we get an allergic reaction and we know to avoid that food from now on); but when it comes to food intolerances, we might need to spend some time working out the foods that contribute to us feeling sluggish or unwell.
Likewise for wellbeing, you might know that some big and obvious events contribute to your wellbeing feeling worse. However, you might be surprised to discover that certain aspects of your daily environment creep up on you, and chip away at your wellbeing.
As a wellbeing coach I use an approach that helps my clients achieve a mindful awareness of the things in their daily life that have the biggest impact on their wellbeing.
I've had clients who discover a positive or negative impact for them of seemingly insignificant things such as: lighting, background noise, working or studying alone vs working or studying in a group, when to take breaks, what to eat, what to drink, sleep, activities, music, pets, hobbies and so on through a long list.
A typical coaching journey looks something like this:
We explore what resilience means to the client. If you'd do this I'd bet you'd have a different view to other people. People have an amazingly varied perception of what it means to be resilient. You might find that your own wellbeing is impacted by you trying to meet someone else's definition of resilience, rather than your own.
We'd then talk about the client's personal environment - all the things that happen to them on a typical day that might have an influence on their wellbeing. We might spend some time here, returning to it several times, to firmly establish the things that have the biggest impact on their wellbeing.
Then we'll start to look at what choices the client can make to adjust their daily environment, and get help from others along the way (from a line manager, tutor or teacher, from friends, family and loved ones). This helps to build an environment around the client that feels less challenging and more supportive.
We might, if relevant, explore the way that the client thinks about certain situations and see if there are other, different ways of thinking that could be more helpful.
Then we might talk about the client's skills, talents and abilities. These are the things that help them to feel purposeful, successful and well. It's worth making sure that we play to these strengths as much as possible.
Finally, we will bring all of this together in an Evenhood Card. For all its complexity, getting support for our wellbeing can sometimes be as simple as identifying the sort of daily environment that's best for us. The Evenhood Card captures what this looks like and acts both as a reminder for the client, and a useful reference for people that the client might ask for some support.
If you'd find any of this useful for you, or someone you know, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more about my approach to wellbeing coaching for resilience in my book, Be A More Resilient You! which you can explore here.
About Jonathan Phelan
Jonathan is the author of “The Art of the Mentally Healthy Conversation” which tells the story of how Jonathan learned to manage the challenge of a mental health condition following a child bereavement. The book helps the reader discover how to have mentally healthy conversations, which are more likely to result in support, rather than stigma. It also promotes the benefits of workplaces, universities and schools nurturing a culture in which it is normal for people to talk about their mental health and to offer mutual support for wellbeing and resilience.
Jonathan has held a senior leadership position in a large financial services organisation since 2004, with a long-term career in law, law enforcement and consumer protection. When he went through the trauma of a child bereavement he gained an insight into the obstacles people face when they have mental wellbeing challenges. More importantly he learned how to overcome those obstacles by improving the way we talk about our wellbeing and resilience.
Through his talks, workshops and book Jonathan shares his personal story. Using the drama of how mental health has been portrayed in film, and his own particular take on how our brains process information, Jonathan guides the listener to discover more effective ways to talk about mental wellbeing. Jonathan also promotes the concept of mutual support for wellbeing; based on the belief that we should all aim to make it normal for people to talk about their mental wellbeing, just as we are already willing to talk about physical wellbeing.