Mental health vs mental wealth

Over recent years the importance of good mental health has become understood and prioritised by both individuals and corporations alike. This is a crucial step to protecting our health and wellbeing from the pressures of modern life. 

I think we’re missing a key factor in the conversation though. One that is best explained through reframing the conversation by using the phrase mental wealth, rather than mental health. Let me explain why.

Why mental wealth?

By using the phrase mental wealth, instead of mental health, we’re able to place an emphasis on the fact that it’s something you need to participate in. It’s about proactively taking care of yourself because you are worth it and investing in your own mental wealth account. 

By understanding your own mental health and investing in your mental wealth, you can protect your wellbeing and prevent mental health issues. 

In our Mindful Manager course we explain it like this:

Imagine you see something you’d like to buy in a shop or online. Maybe you don’t need it, but you really want it, so you check your bank balance to see if you can afford it. This is where the important decision comes in; do I want to go overdrawn or can I wait until I have sufficient funds?

A mental wealth mindset means thinking about your wellbeing in the same way. Do you have enough reserves in the bank or do you need to build them up somehow? Will we be able to respond to stressful situations or do we need to look at ways we can build our resilience and mental strength to better deal with the challenges we may face. 

Understanding how much you have “in the bank” can help you to be more resilient and mindful, not only as an individual but as a manager or leader, but this is reliant on you learning to stay in the black and out of the red. 

Once you’ve become adept at this it will enable to you become more aware of how much you need to invest in your own mental wealth account at any time, as well as gain an understanding of how much and in which ways stressful situations deplete you. 

How do I improve my mental wealth? 

Thankfully, unlike the financial markets, there are seven sure-fire investments that you can use to boost your mental wealth account. By reviewing these you can see where you may be lacking, and what you can do to increase your mental wealth, and thereby your mental health and wellbeing. 

Social connection

Various research has shown that people who lack social connection are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviour. The negative repercussions don’t stop with your mental health though, as studies have found that social isolation and loneliness are also linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, dementia and earlier death, among other things. 

Tip: Try to reach out to someone you love or care for each day. It doesn’t even need to be face-to-face; a quick phone call will do. 

Spending time in nature

Spending time outside in nature or with animals has been proven to have a tremendously positive impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing

Tip: Try to get out for a walk every day. Even a quick stroll in the park can do wonders for your mood – and the movement is great for your physical health too! 

Social media

Social media is neither inherently good or bad when it comes to your wellbeing, but is instead dependant on how you use it. Mindless scrolling and continuous exposure to the wrong types of content can make you feel isolated, inadequate and depressed. But on the other hand, it can also help you connect to people or explore your interests. 

Tip: Try to be more mindful and purposeful about how you use social media. You could even limit the time you use it each day. 

Eat healthily

Ever heard people say, ‘you are what you eat’? Well, it’s said for good reason. Eating healthy food and including a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients in your diet can improve your sense of wellbeing and boost your mood. It’s also important to eat regularly to avoid drops in your blood sugar level and to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect how you feel, make you feel tired and reduce your ability to concentrate. 

Tip: There are some great tips on eating healthily for your mental health on the Mental Health Foundation website

Think positive

There is now an abundance of research looking at the effect a positive mindset has on not only your mental wellbeing, but your physical health too. Being positive about things, experiencing gratitude and being optimistic, not only helps you increase your mental wellbeing and cope better with stress, but helps you to catch less colds, live longer, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular-disease related death. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Tip: If you’re feeling frustrated or down about your day try to think of three good things that have happened, no matter how small, to help turn your mindset around. 

Get physical

Physical activity is key to living a healthy life, for both your physical and mental wellbeing. This doesn’t mean you have to take up a sport or do a vigorous session in the gym each day. You can experience the benefits by simply sitting down less and moving your body more. 

Tip: Remember to get up and move regularly while you are working. It doesn’t have to be for a prolonged period. Walk to the furthest coffee machine in your office, or go see your colleague in person instead of calling them. 

I’ve just covered the basics of mental wealth here, but hopefully it has given you something to think about. It’s something we cover in a lot more detail in our Mindful Manager training programme so if you’d like to find out more get in touch.    

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