In my role as a therapist, I get to watch lots of people feel better about life.
I am able to observe the steps they take and the difference those steps make for them.
Everybody, of course, is different. What works for you won’t necessarily work for me.
Yet there are some steps that I see over and over again. When people take them, they contribute to their well being.
It’s not rocket science either.
It’s about getting the basics sorted.
We are biological creatures after all. When our bodies don’t get what they need, we don’t feel so good. And that includes our mental health too.
When I notice people giving their body what it needs, I see the positive difference it makes as a result.
Here are three things to get sorted that will likely benefit your emotional health too.
We need sleep. When we don’t get enough we are more likely to be sluggish and irritable. We tend to lack energy and motivation too.
This has a knock on effect to other aspects of life. Our lack of sleep can begin blocking other things that help our well being.
It’s hard to find the motivation to go and see friends, or work on that project that means something to us.
We are too tired.
Getting a good sleep routine has us feel alert, refreshed and energised. We feel more capable of taking on the world, and rolling with the inevitable punches too.
Whether we eat well or whether we eat poorly, our bodies know the difference.
Again, we lose vibrancy. We feel sluggish.
At some level, we know that we are not taking care of ourselves. That has an impact too. Not caring for ourself subtly sends the message that we are not worthy of being cared for.
Skipping meals and eating junk robs us of the nutrition and energy to be on top form. It also robs us of the nurture and esteem of self care.
I’ve seen many people improve a lot simply by making small changes to their diet.
When I ask people what makes them feel good, people tell me many things.
Some talk about riding their motorbike. Some mention being with friends. Others talk of doing something art and craft related.
Everyone is different.
Yet the most common answer I hear is around some form of exercise.
It may be walking, going to the gym, doing a yoga class, circuit training, running or cycling.
It’s not surprising. It brings with it chemical changes in the body as endorphins are released. These benefits last for hours after the exercise has finished.
It also brings a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
If you have been feeling anxious, it also expels all that anxious energy you are carrying around with you too.
When people return and tell me they have started doing some exercise, I know they are on the way back to a better place.
So where to start?
The answer to that question is to begin where it is easiest for you.
It’s understandable to think that change is only meaningful if we change everything. But it’s not true.
Tiny changes bring other changes, and are more likely to happen.
Life is not a Rocky montage. We don’t change everything by the time the 80s power ballad is through. We begin tiny. That’s how change takes place.
Any step in the right direction will bring a benefit. That benefit will trigger other improvements.
The person who sleeps better may feel more energised to do some exercise.
The person who eats better may feel more ready to go to the gym.
The person who exercises may find themselves more tired and so sleeps easier. They may find themselves eating better too because good food makes exercise easier.
So start where you like.
As the writer Scott Adams puts it, we are moist robots, and our bodies are the keyboards for our minds.
There can be a temptation to get all psychological when we feel down. But sometimes, the least complex tweak is to do something different for the body.
I share this because when I witness my clients do that, they feel better. If you could do with a boost and aren’t sure where to start, making a small change in one of these three areas will probably help.Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice