In the first century after Christ, a young Roman poet, Juvenal, wrote in his Satires that "what we must implore is a healthy mind in a healthy body". This sentence will be repeated many times in history. Pierre de Coubertin, for example, adapted it to promote the Olympic Games with "a fiery spirit in a muscular body". ASICS went even further by making the acronym of its brand: Anima Sana In Corpore Sano.
Today, if we are all aware of the importance of taking care of our physical health, shouldn't we give more importance to the "health" of our mind? Few people, when given the choice, can imagine going a day without food. Yet we sometimes accept a lot of stress over long periods of time without questioning our lifestyle. At the same time, we sometimes allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by emotions that eat away at us and damage our relationships without seeking to understand and dispel them...
There is an imbalance between the care we give to our physical health and the attention we give to our mental "health". Before sharing some tips on how to take care of yourself, we asked ourselves what causes this imbalance.
Fact #1: the subject is still too stigmatised, sometimes almost taboo.
When moka.care was born in our heads almost a year ago, we were talking a lot about "mental health". We were told "ok, cool but don't you have a more positive name than "mental health", something less pathological?
When you think about it, why is there a discomfort when talking about mental health? Why should taking care of one's mental health be reserved only for the sick, for the domain of the "pathological", while everyone, even those who are not sick, should take care of their physical health?
Why should work on the "mind" be reserved only for top athletes?
The consequence of this cliché, like all clichés, is simple: we consider that taking care of our mental health is secondary, even ridiculous. At moka.care, we believe that our minds deserve as much attention as our bodies. We are convinced that everyone would benefit from seeing a shrink, meditating, treating the brain as a muscle and giving it a rest when it is overworked - check out Guy Winch's very good TED talk for more on this topic.
Fact #2: We were never taught how to take care of our mental health.
When we were children, our parents told us to brush our teeth for three minutes in the morning and in the evening, to be careful when crossing the road so as not to be run over... But did they teach us that looking at a screen for ten hours a day, including when we woke up and before going to bed, generates stress, difficulty in sleeping, hormonal imbalances?
At school we were taught to count, to read and write well, to do sports... But did school teach us to understand what we feel rather than to suffer it? To decipher our emotions in order to know ourselves better? To know how to deal with failure in order to bounce back better?
Finally, in the media, we are told that it is "recommended to do 30 minutes of physical activity per day", "not to eat too much fat, too much sugar, too much salt" but rather to "eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day". Have you ever seen a public advert that recommends "meditating for 10 minutes a day", or "not creating too much dopamine by checking every two seconds if you have a new like on Insta". No. For all these subjects, we consider that life experience will teach us.
However, taking care of your mind is like anything else, it can be learned and cultivated. And it is this that allows us to know ourselves better, to make good decisions or, quite simply, to fulfil ourselves.
So here are some tips from the moka.care team on how to take care of yourself.
Meditate: the practice of meditation will allow you to react more positively to stressful events. This practice consists of learning to listen to yourself, your body and your sensations. We breathe, we accept our emotions, including those that are unpleasant to let them go. We learn to better accept the hazards of everyday life, which contributes to a general well-being.
Explore your mind and emotions. What can we do when our mind is in a loop? One way to achieve good mental health is to understand our thought patterns. A pattern is an unconscious statement that runs through our minds and can be activated by various elements in our environment. Our patterns are quite nice as they guide our interpretation of events. They are not so nice when they become harmful to us, for example when we repeat to ourselves "I am incompetent anyway". If this pattern is very active, we tend to interpret any failure as being due to a lack of competence, even though many external factors may have contributed to the failure. Hence the importance of being able to identify these patterns of thinking before they lead us to see everything in the dark. Why not start by not thinking in terms of "I must" and think more in terms of "I want"? To go further, the practitioners of the moka.care team are here to help you identify, modify or deactivate them. With practice, you will be able to anticipate and disable your patterns before they even appear!
Reduce your exposure to screens and social networks. We'll be doing a dedicated post on this subject soon, but to cut a long story short, social networks force our neurons to secrete dopamine. Dopamine is the pleasure hormone, it becomes a real drug when it is secreted in too large quantities. We then become addicted and alternate continuously between periods of euphoria and periods of "bad". To go further on this subject before our next post, watch the great web series from Arte Creative: Dopamine
Eat, sleep and move: they said "a healthy mind in a healthy body", so let's not forget the healthy "body". Sleeping well, exercising and eating properly are of course also active in keeping the mind healthy.
Would you like to know more about the different ways to take care of your mind? Don't hesitate to leave us a message, we'd love to talk.
Take care !
Many thanks to Clémence Brun, from AD-HOC Lab, for her precious help!