Monique Marais says balance is the key when managing your mental load and offers practical tips to achieve this.
There are many techniques and opinions on how to manage mental load, but only you are the true expert on yourself. You need to start by knowing yourself: what works for you, what motivates you, and why it’s important to you to manage your mental health. This is often complicated, if you’ve multiple aspects to juggle, including work life, children, relationships, socialising and health. The key is balance.
Here are some ideas on how to manage your mental load and the balance in your life:
- Be true to yourself – Know yourself well enough to know if someone’s suggestion isn’t going to work for you, but also be open to trying new things.
- Be willing – The first step is to admit that you want to change certain aspects, or even just the focus of your attention and then commit to the process.
- Educate yourself – Knowledge is power. Once you have identified an area which you would want to work on, read up on the topic, find out what the experts say, as well as connecting with people in similar situations and learning from their experiences.
- Know that you are unique – What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for you. Do regular introspection to investigate if your plan of action to maintain your mental health is effective and achieving the goals you would set out to achieve.
- Know when to move on – Sometimes you can try something, and because you’re committed, you want to see it through, but it isn’t always helpful, and you need to know when to quit when you’re ahead.
- Exercise – This doesn’t always mean going to the gym seven days a week, doing rigorous exercise, it might just mean becoming more active. This can include walking, spending time outdoors, or taking up a new sport you can invest in, and you can gradually increase the intensity as you progress.
- Setting realistic goals – You know what is practical, achievable and at the same time, what will still challenge you. Set small, achievable goals, and adapt your goals as you continue your journey.
- Mindfulness – Spend time daily/weekly to review how your week went, identify what you did well, where you can improve and where you have grown.
- Connect with resources – Know who the right person is to ask about a specific question you have (and know who you should avoid).
- Identify one thing you enjoy doing – This can be reading, walking with your dog, spending time with family. Commit to doing it at regular intervals.
- Positive affirmation – If you have a negative thought about yourself (for example: to stick to your diet or healthy eating choices), counter it by giving yourself positive feedback and name two things you do well.
- Peer support – Identify a person in your community (either a family member, friend or colleague) that has the same aspirations or goals you have and support each other.
MEET THE EXPERT
Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream Sub Acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.
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