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Take Control Of Your Mental Health Today In Just Three Minutes

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It’s World Mental Health Day!

I don’t know about you, but just hearing the words mental health make me cringe. My mind is instantly filled with the negative stereotypes attached to similar words like mental illness, and mental disorder.

But according to the World Health Organization, mental health has a clear definition, and it’s actually positive!

Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

So how can you both achieve and maintain optimal mental health?

Chances are, if you asked 10 people that question, you’d get 10 different answers. But one thing I’ve learned is that, whatever vehicle you chose to support your journey will only prove as affective as your willingness to look inwards.

Looking inwards means slowing down long enough to be present in the moment, without self-judgement. It means taking the time to feel your physical body, express your emotions, and clear your mind.

So, can therapy help? Yoga? Self-help books?

Maybe, but while each of these approaches can be extremely useful, they all have one thing in common that instantly puts them at a disadvantage: They all rely on something (or someone) outside of your Self.

Recently, an article published in the NY Times discussed the history of the escape key on a computer keyboard. In the article, Bob Frankston, a computer programmer, is quoted as saying, “There’s something nice about having a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have a “get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key” in life?

While therapy, yoga, self-help books, and various other techniques can be extremely helpful in maintaining mental health, they are just as external as that escape key, which means there’s a limit to how far they can take you towards achieving optimal wellness.

At some point, you have to stop looking for the bail-out button, and come face to face with your internal turmoil.

There’s something nice about having a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key.
Bob Frankston, Computer Programmer

The good news is that looking inwards doesn’t require anything outside of your Self, which means you can do it right here, right now.

Try this quick exercise:

1. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath.
2. With each exhale, relax each part of your body and clear your mind
3. Do this for at least 3 minutes.

How do you feel? If you feel relaxed, keep going! If you feel anxious, definitely keep going, because you’re on to something!

Looking outside of your Self for answers is always more tempting than looking within. Society is full of people seeking external validation and the quick solution to “get-me-the-hell-out-of-here” when life becomes unpleasant.

But looking inwards is a free, instantly accessible way to feel better right now, in this moment. And it will certainly put you on the fast track towards becoming an individual that “realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

So my challenge to you is this: To celebrate Mental Health Day, commit to pausing for three minutes today to look inwards. Make this your daily practice.

I blog for World Mental Health Day

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