When I meet new clients for the first time, they often tell me they would like help with anxiety, but they don’t have thrive time. That is, they would like to be able to work on the program, but life is too busy. For some, this hides their limiting belief that nothing can help them and they cannot get better. For others, it is a perception that they are so busy – often with negative or obsessive thinking – that they feel as though they cannot make room in the noise and busy-ness of their minds to thrive.
But we all have time and space. We just need to know how to find it.
Developing Lack of Mental Health
As we grow up, there aren’t really any structured ways that we learn to develop hope, resilience and general mental health. We follow our role models – parents, siblings, friends, teachers. With luck, our role models are able to demonstrate how to overcome obstacles, deal with stress with grace and resilience, and how to have hope and an expectation that we can cope.
All too often though, our role models have hang ups, anxieties and may themselves be depressed, obsessional, or phobic. Without meaning to, they can help us to train not to have mental health, but to have mental struggle, probably in ways similar to the ways they have struggled. It is not their fault, they weren’t trained either! BUT the good news is it does not take long to notice a change.
BUT the good news is we can learn new skills, AND, it does not take long to notice a change.
Learning the Skills to Develop Mental Health
We can all learn the skills we need to thrive, to have hope and resilience even in the toughest situations. By the time we are adults, we can all recognize people who seem to flourish whatever happens to them. We may know them personally such as my Aunt to who lived 15 years after being given six months to live with cancer, or we see stories about them – Malala is a good example. We are good at recognizing these people, but all too often we assume that they are genetically superior and that we cannot have what they have.
So what if you are really feeling short of time? Well, consider these facts…
Time & Commitment = Change
1140. That is how many minutes there are in a day.
30-60. That is how many days it takes to form a new habit.
30. That is how many minutes a day you need to spend working on new thinking skills to develop those habits. This is thriving time!
Even if you spend 30 minutes a day you have 1110 minutes left to do other things!
Usually, it is only for the first few days or weeks that “finding the time” feels hard. As you experience the benefit of the program, it becomes easier and easier to find the time and integrate the new thinking.
Another thing to keep track of is when in the day (a) you most benefit from working on Thriving and (b) what times of day you find it easiest to focus and really invest in the learning and the practices.
Research shows that our mood is often lowest and most negative in the morning. For some, this is the best time to work on Thrive because it helps boost mood and improve our engagement throughout the rest of the day. For others, this may be the most difficult time to find motivation. Mid-afternoon may be the time you feel most able to concentrate and invest in yourself. For others, smaller periods of 5-10 minutes may make more sense. Find out what works for you. One way is to spend a few days monitoring your mood at a few points in the day. For example:
- When you first wake up
- After your first cup of coffee (if you drink coffee) or after breakfast
- An hour after lunch/Mid-afternoon
- An hour before bed
Rank your mood on a scale of 1-10. (1 being disengaged/unfocused and 10 being engaged and able to focus on something.) Once you have tracked your mood, pick the times of day that you can best work on thriving.
At 30 minutes a day for sixty days, for example, you will spend a total of 1800 minutes diligently working on those new skills. That is less than two days!
And as your skills increase with practice, more of them will become automatic, and you will need to make less effort to incorporate them into your day. In fact, by the end of the program, these new thinking skills will be part of your everyday life.
What do I mean by that?
Well, when I started with the Thrive Programme, I had to really pay attention to my self-talk. At first, it was hard to “hear” exactly what I was saying to myself. I was not actively listening and questioning, I was letting the voice in my head – my voice I might add – prattle on without ever challenging her. It took time and effort those first few days to really listen and pay full attention AND to work out not just what I was saying, but how that was impacting the way I approached my everyday life. That was the only thing I “had time for”. And that was fine. I practiced the first few skills religiously until they came more naturally. And, with a few days practice, I started to hone the skill and it did not take so much effort.
Also, I noticed that as I worked on the exercises, some of my other energy-sapping, distracting habits started to fade. For example, I started to sleep better which meant I could use my 1110 minutes during the rest of the day to better effect. I had periods of the day when that nagging self-critic was quiet and I could focus more on the other things I was doing. Suddenly, in the time I was not working on the program, I was getting more done! It started to feel as though I had traded 30 minutes of “additional work” for a couple of hours of higher energy more effective effort on other things. And that is a pretty good trade-off I would say!
How would your life be if you could manage your thinking and the way you process your experiences? Wouldn’t it be worth it?
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