Your Mental Health Diet

Your Mental Health Diet

The subject of diet is one of great public interest.  Newspapers and magazines are filled with articles on the subject.  We frequently hear people speaking about what they eat, what they shouldn’t eat, what they are craving all related to their physical body.  But let’s have a conversation about the subject of diet on a level that is much more profound in its effects.  I am referring to our mental diet.  The most important of all factors in your life is the mental diet on which you live.  It is the food of thought which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life.  It is the thoughts we allow ourselves to have that take us in certain directions.  You cannot have an angry mind and a peaceful kind of environment.  It is impossible for the two to coexist.   Stop and pause for a moment to reflect on what happens when you dwell on an issue or feel anger toward someone.  Notice the impact on your actions. What we allow our mind to dwell upon creates our emotional environment.  Our thoughts are like children and can at times get out of hand and need guidance and correction.  To do this requires taking note of self-talk.  Take time to observe what comes up in your thoughts at various times in the day, or with certain people.  This will help to develop self-awareness.  Once we become aware of something, then we can make a conscious effort to make a change if we choose.

Listen to your self-talk.  Is it negative or judgmental?   What is considered a negative thought, you ask?   Any thought of failure, disappointment or trouble, any thought of criticism, spite, jealousy, or condemnation of others or self, in short any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking.  Any thought that is not positive and constructive.  The classification is not important.  What is important is not dwelling on negative thought.  We all have negative thoughts but it is not the thought that is the issue. It is what we do with the thought that that will impact our mental health. Thinking positive thoughts can have a positive impact on our self- esteem.

Now, let’s look at your life environment and see if it supports you to feel good about yourself. You may find that some nourishing elements need to be replenished. Ask yourself whether you have people in your life who:

• Treat you with love and respect?

• Encourage you to do and be anything you want?

• Help you find out what you want to do and how to do it?

• Encourage you to explore all your talents and interests?

• Are thrilled when you succeed?

• Listen to you when you need to complain?

• Help you bounce back from failure without making you feel bad?

Take a moment to think about each of the items on this list. Note where your environment is providing adequately for you and where it is lacking. Doing so can give you clues on how to build your self-esteem diet.

Positive Thoughts with Joyce Barwis, Registered Clinical Counsellor on Vancouver Island. BC

The environment in which we live and work has an impact on our state of mental health.  If you are currently in a situation where the environment feels unsafe emotionally, where you mistrusted what is being said or done, I encourage you to make an appointment and come in to see me.  This type of environment is toxic and can be difficult to manage to say the least.  If you have experienced this type of situation in the past, it may continue to hinder you from moving forward today.  Together we can work towards change. My approach involves using various evidence-based approaches to create a “Healthy” mental health diet.