Ever had a day when you woke up and things seemed just right? You couldn’t explain it. The world hasn’t changed. But you felt just good. What if there was a reliable way of producing this effect? Wouldn’t you want to take advantage of it?
Today, we identify a number of things that an individual could do to feel better. Some of these are ‘magic pills’ in that they work better and have fewer side effects than any of the non-magical pills we are aware of. Chances are, as a Psychologist, I will be closer at putting myself out of a job if you did these things:
- Nutrition – our brains consume great amount of energy. What this means, there is a need in having the right fuels to power this incredible machine (and the rest of your body too). It also means that similarly to any machine there are by-products (like exhaust fumes) that need to be cleared out. We’ve all heard ‘what you see is what you get’ – with your body and mind it’s ‘what you put in is what you get’. Want to feel great? Give your body and mind the building blocks of feeling great.
- Exercise – should I stop here…? Ok, by now you probably have heard something positive about exercise. Probably heard about the recommended daily exercise routines. You probably tried to put your mind at ease by saying that you cant afford it or that there is no time, etc. Especially in young families where the demands of work and parenting can be quite overwhelming it is particularly difficult. I am not an exception and also go through periods of time when I struggle to stick to regular exercise. I do believe that you are wonderfully creative. So creative that if you put your mind to finding 30mins per day to have a leisurely walk/jog, you would do it. If you haven’t, something else is holding you back – what is it? What can wonderfully creative person do about it?
- Social participation – we are group animals. We do not thrive in isolation. Some very powerful biological (yes – hard wired) processes are involved here. Consider how painful isolation (exclusion, ostracism, banishment) is for us. Some very weird processes take place when we are alone. And it is unfortunate that we live in a culture that frowns upon anything that is not strength, pushing us to hide when we don’t feel well. Isolating makes us feel even worse. The opposite is also true – our experiences of stress, pain, healing, trauma, etc – all improve when we are connected with others.
- Hobby – interestingly, we feel better when we have regular times to do things for no other reason but because we find them interesting/fun.
4½ Finally, at any of these points, you could say to me – well Nik, that’s easier said than done! Chances are, I will agree with you – you are completely right. It is easier said than done. At any of these ‘magic pills’ you may find things that hold you back. For example, after an injury – what can you do to exercise safely? Or, what is the right nutrition? What if I just moved to the area and don’t know anyone, how can I participate socially? Every one of these questions has merit. My ½ input here is: ‘not knowing gives you the first step’ – finding out, problem solving, brainstorming, etc. Finally, if you are feeling stuck – consult someone – friend, spouse, therapist, etc. I hope that every therapist’s goal is to put themselves out of the job. To work with their Clients in such a way that they will not need therapy anymore.