A few secrets from my daily life

STEPH-39__Meaghan Coles__MC14249

I'm a psychologist and a mental health advocate, and I want to let you in on a few secrets.

I don't do 30 minutes of exercise daily;

I don't practice 20 minutes of mindfulness daily;

I don't set an intention or affirmation for the day before I mindfully get myself out of bed, journal for 20 minutes, and approach the day with a smile on my face - every day;

I do get angry

I do yell

I do get sad

I do cry

I do get overwhelmed

and yes, I absolutely get frustrated, disappointed, regretful, and procrastinate.

Why am I sharing this?

In my ideal world, I probably would be more of the person I want to be if I were able to prioritise at least 1 hour a day to self care. How would I like to use that time? 30 minutes of exercise, 10 minutes of mindfulness, 10 minutes of journalling, and 10 minutes of creativity - yep, that sounds pretty good to me.

How often have I made that happen? Probably next to never.


But that doesn't mean I don't care about my mental health or wellbeing. I care deeply about my mental health. About the mental health of my husband and our family. And the mental health of others. I'm also realistic (mostly). At the current season of our life, with the farm in hectic full swing, three boys who often need more than they can give, and a mind that is easily distracted by the next shiny thing - rather than the intention I set myself a week ago. This means that large, daily mental health strategies often don't happen.

So, what do I do instead?

A lot of micro strategies. And, I do them when I can, rather at a set time in the day (aside from one which I'll get to later).

1. Acknowledging

The word accepting is sometimes tricky to get our minds around. So I sometimes prefer Acknowledge. When we acknowledge the tricky thoughts, stories, feelings that come up in our inner world - we can choose whether we want to act on them or not.

If you are in a small town, chances are you've run into someone in the local shops who you don't necessarily want to talk to at the time. What do you do? Acknowledge them. Smile, nod your head in acknowledgement, and then keep walking. You don't have to stop and have a 30 minute conversation with them.

We get to do the same things with our thoughts. If a tricky thought is coming up that really isn't serving you, practice acknowledging it. Smile, nod in acknowledgement, then keep on walking.

2. Cycle Awareness

As a female, this one is HUGE - enough to warrant a blog post of its own in time. But for now, if you are a female or if you know a female, getting awareness of how the female hormonal cycle works is game-changing. It now means that I can step back and acknowledge (see #1 above) what thoughts/emotions/moods are coming in a certain time in my cycle, and then acknowledge that chances are it may be hormonally related. It has also enabled me to capture my strengths during each stage of my cycle as well.

There are so many places to start to learn more about this - but I highly recommend

"Period Queen" Podcast and Book by Lucy Peach, In the Flo, The Fifth Vital Sign, and Wild Power - are all great as well. And there are heaps of Apps to help you track as well.

As the simplest step - start by checking in with yourself. What day of your cycle are you on today? As I write this, I'm day 31, so I'm practising a lot of awareness, knowing that everyone and everything around me is not horrible - I'm just a whole lot more sensitive and critical and this point in time. I also practice leaning in to my body with a little more care and compassion.

3. Getting present

Yes, I may not get to practice formal mindfulness daily, however, I do practice mini moments of mindfulness through the day. At its core, mindfulness is about getting present in this moment right now, with curiousity and non-judgement. We can practice this anywhere.

For me, a few times when I find myself practicing mindfulness are: washing the dishes, filling up fuel, and when I go to bed at night.

If you are just getting started, listening to an audio exercise can be beneficial to help you practice. I have a few recordings here to get you started - https://actforag.com.au/resources-downloadable/

4. Micro exercise

As noted, in our day-to-day life, finding 30 minutes each day for formal exercise is just not achievable at this point in time for me. However, I know how much moving my body can help me. Movement helps improve our mental health overall and can also help us move through or shift uncomfortable moods or feelings that are sticking around.

General activity happens relatively easily on the farm and chasing after 3 boys, so my step count is achieved daily.

To make it easier for myself to get mini exercise done, I have a 7-minute exercise app on my phone and watch. Honestly, I don't actually get a seven-minute workout done every day, but when I do, I know that it helps set my mood on an upward cycle.

5. Drop the Shoulds out of a 10-story building

This idea was suggested to me by my own psychologist. We often talk about "letting go" of the shoulds, or "letting go" of unhelpful thoughts and stories. I needed something a little more powerful than that. So, for me, I think about dropping the "shoulds" off the roof of a high building. It doesn't stop the "shoulds" from showing up at times. But I can practice dropping them and choosing not to hold on to them.

Thank you for reading if you've made it this far. Please share in a comment, or share your own post about what micro strategies you use to care for your own wellbeing and mental health. (And they may look different than everyone else's and that's ok!)

Take care of you,



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