BLOG: My tools for positive mental health

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BLOG: The ‘cult of CrossFit’ got me back on track
April 1, 2024

BLOG: My tools for positive mental health

a man in a white shirt smiles with a cheeky grin

Anthony McCormack reveals his mental health top tips

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Hopefully this will not be written off as virtue signalling as I’m not selling my next naturist retreat or anything. However, I thought as we kick off Mental Health Awareness Week, I would reflect on what has been helpful to me and share a few pointers.

I feel like I live in a paradox, conundrum or dichotomy (not sure of best word) where I am a recruiter, entrepreneur and business owner, stereotypically roles associated with confident extrovert ‘Type A’ personality types. 

a man in a white shirt smiles with a cheeky grin
Anthony McCormack reveals his mental health top tips

However, in reality, I am quite an introvert, prone to anxiety and overwhelm.  In fact I’ve been a bit of a hermit since Covid! So how do I cope?

Largely due to personal development (point 1 below) I have come to realise that mental health, like physical health, is something that we can and should actively manage for optimal results.

So here are a few priorities or habits that I leverage to keep me as positive and focused as possible. All are healthier and wiser than my other go-to – which is blocking things out with booze!

Personal Development

I’ve committed to lifelong learning and am confident this is part of my core identity now. This is by definition, good for personal development. But I have also found it very useful for mental health. I read around business and entrepreneurship subjects, but also philosophy, psychology and mental health topics. Know thyself.

Fitness

I’ve had ups and downs on this one, I’ve been both fit and fat – and just swap out my jeans accordingly! This last year, I’ve got into a good routine of CrossFit. This has been great for all around cardio and strength. It has also provided routine, structure, community and fun! Find your tribe.

Nutrition (and hydration)

There’s the old adage that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. So this one goes hand in hand with fitness here. Obviously, eating healthy-ish/healthier is the foundation. I also use supplements including Multi-Vitamins, Vit B-12 extra Vit D in the winter, cod liver oil, glucosamine and some other stuff, just to fill any nutrition gaps. Hydration seems obvious and is – but I swear I used to only drink coffee and booze so having a water bottle handy is a big leap forward for me! Your body is a temple.

Time in nature

It’s real science that time in nature reduces stress and promotes the right kind of endorphins for a positive mindset. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful rural area and with a dog to walk, I get my daily green-wash which helps keep perspective. Get out.

Mini breaks

We had learned, while supporting a family member that was REALLY struggling, that sign-posting things in the future to look forward to can be valuable. So, with this in mind, and as a reward for making placements, I try to get away for a couple of nights every month or so to get a change of scenery, work remotely and check-out somewhere new. Be an explorer.

Cold showers

Having read Wim Hof’s book and watched his reality TV series, I was motivated to try using the cold as a tool for mindset. Ice baths are right on trend now but I just whack my shower on cold at the end for 30 secs or so. The point is to hang in there until you can regulate your breathing. Not comfortable but builds resilience. Just Do It.

Journalling

I think it was my go-to-guru Robin Sharma that most influenced my recent decision to give this a go.  Externalising thoughts and feelings is helpful so I think journalling is second only to speaking to another human being. Also, depending on what you write, it can be useful for promoting an attitude of gratitude which works as an antidote to our natural negativity bias. I try and top and tail the day journalling and cover feelings, gratitude, planning and then reviewing the day.

Faith

I’m not going say religion as humans don’t tend to like each others version. But I can’t, in good consciousness, leave faith off this list as I find immeasurable value here and you may do too. To quote a parable: “I’ve built my house on a rock, so yes storms will come but my house will not fall.” Is God real? Seek and you will find!

    What would you add to my list?  What’s on yours?

    So, my humble suggestion on #mentalhealthawarenessweek is to take some time to reflect. 

    Maybe identify your strengths and weaknesses, your triggers and coping mechanisms and work towards putting some routines in place that protect and promote your own mental health.

    Peace, Ant