This week I listened to an inspiring podcast on ‘The Doctor’s Kitchen’ Podcast with a Psychiatrist called Drew Ramsey who is a leading innovator in mental health.
While he runs an active clinical practice in New York City, where he sees people with acute mental health concerns, as a health expert, he is passionate about everyone taking measures to improve their mental health.
This is irrespective of whether or not it is something you have struggled with in the past or currently are dealing with. We can ALL improve our mental health.
This got me reflecting on a personal level as to what I am doing to improve my mental health.
How am I intentionally choosing to prioritise my mind, my spirit, and my mental well-being?
How are you being intentional about improving your mental health?
Here are three things I have reflected on that I do currently, and some of what I want to do better at in order to improve my mental health.
- 1 – Staying in on a Saturday night
As you know my husband is a Pastor and Principle of a Bible School. A LOT of people love to talk to my husband. A lot. I have learned to share him with an entire congregation. Every Friday and Sunday night he has Church. That means that on the weekends we only have one night together. In the past, we used to have big social events every Saturday night and would be out with other people every night of the weekend.
While I adore people, and love to support my husband, and love our church community, I actually am quite an introvert and found myself getting burnt out and exhausted, particularly working the hours I do as a doctor.
Plus, I felt like I never got to just chill with my husband, just the two of us. It started to really impact me.
What has helped is saying no to most events on a Saturday night.
Why? Because it’s our only night on the weekend together. While others might be okay with that, and might find being out every single night of the weekend refreshing, I find it exhausting.
Knowing at the end of a busy week, that Mark and I have Saturday night together, just the two of us, makes the other nights away with him at church okay. It makes my long hours at work every day okay. It makes the time that we spend working on study and our business doable. It makes many things okay.
Mentally: on a personal level it makes all the difference in the world to me.
Sometimes we feel rude when we say no to someone’s special party. Sometimes we are seriously tempted when it is dinner with friends that we love. And there is no end to the invitations!
However, we know that right now, protecting our Saturday night most the time is vital to our mental health, especially mine, and it is important for our marriage, and our longevity.
So for this season, if its Saturday night? Sorry, we are probably busy. And I no longer feel guilty about it.
- 2 – Eating a Bunch of Healthy Fats Every day.
I used to be scared of fats. Even ‘good fats’ in the past have gotten a bad rap. Now I know the nutritious importance of eating a good amount of healthy fats every day, preferably at every meal. I try to eat loads of avocado, nuts and nut butter (I LOVE peanut and almond butter so much) olives, olive oil, loads of salmon and oily fish. I find it helps keep me satiated, my mind alert and makes my meals SO much more flavoursome. For treats I indulge in dark chocolate (actually, to be honest, I have it nearly daily) and I also have some grass-fed real butter.
I have noticed this is great for my mind, does wonders for my skin, and is great to regulate my appetite. Give it a go!
- 3 – Making Time For Relationships which Fill me up.
Recently it has been highlighted to me how certain friendships are invigorating, lifegiving, and essential for my mental health. Learning that and prioritising these precious friendships has been an important lesson for me to learn.
Learning how vital relationships are for my mental health, and how to take practical steps to incorporate them into my life is something I want to learn to do better. I think the better I prioritise relationships that fill me up, the better my mental health is. This does not mean I have coffee/dinner with every person I know, it means I sow intentionally into those very few and close relationships with people who speak my language, know my heart and run in the same direction.
These are the three things I am doing right now to improve my mental health.
What three things are you doing, or do you want to do to actively improve your mental health?
You are deeply loved and richly cherished,
Dr Christine Greenwood
Own Your Health – Eat Well, Think Well, Live Well.
If you are struggling with depression do NOT hesitate to seek medical help. Your local GP, Lifeline, Beyond blue, black dog institute, are all online resources. Also, your local GP can help refer you to the appropriate personnel, your local church can be an important community of support, or even a close friend who you know you can trust can be important places to start.
P.S the other thing which would markedly improve my mental health is if my husband would STOP snoring. The other night, he snored so so loud that I nearly cried. I then woke him up and quizzed him about what he had for dinner (he had eaten out). Of course, he had creamy gnocchi… I WAS LIVID. In the middle of the night. I was so angry at him, (irrational I know) that I could hardly go back to sleep. Anyhoo. It’s a thing.
Mark and dairy = snoring. And Snoring + Christine, = irrational rage and decreased mental health.
Greenie, I hope you are reading this.