Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Mental Health

So, the first month, starting in 11 short days, is about my own mental health. I'm starting with this because it is such a strong predictor of parenting quality. Plus, it's all about ME, and what's not to like about that? I have decided on 3 specific behaviours for this. 

1. Start therapy. I wasn't going to do this, but when your partner suggests it, it's probably a good idea ;-). I have just contacted a clinical psychologist friend for a recommendation.

2. List 3 gratitudes at the end of every day. There is a tonne of positive psychology research showing that this improves mood, and also physical health. I do it from time to time, but I'm not super disciplined about it. 

3. Mindfulness. This does not appeal to me AT ALL, but apparently this also improves mood, even for those people who don't believe it will work. I work with someone who has developed an on-line programme for this. I need to talk to her about this, or maybe just read a self-help book about it. I really can't see myself sitting around being in the moment, but maybe I can just turn off the radio when driving.

I am aiming for three behaviours each month. I will carry on with those that work for me throughout the project, but I am going to do all three things for the entire month, in order to give them a fair shot.

Another major mood booster is exercise. I haven't included it here because I am already a regular exerciser. Tick! Alcohol is also a depressant. I am practically tea-total already, and for the month of March I will be sure not to touch a drop. This is (now) easy for me, so I'm not including it as one of the three behaviours.

On a more controversial note, I also take anti-depressants. I have done for years, and I'm just not interested in kicking the habit. There is research to suggest that anti-depressants mainly have a placebo effect for those suffering from mild depression. Sian pointed out that she thought my depression without them is more in the moderate range. In any event, there is no evidence of long-term side-effects, and the few times I have come off them, it has not worked out well. So these remain my medication of choice. The effect for me is nothing short of magical. I believe that in my case, there is a chemical imbalance that the meds fix perfectly. End of.

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