Take Charge of your mental health!: Pick a ‘P-Skill’!

Take charge of your mental health Series

As we celebrate the World Mental Health Day this year on the theme of psychological mental health first aid for all; we realize how important is self-care as a step towards promoting mental health as well as recovering from a mental health problem Every month till October, we are introduce you to five such skills/habits that can strengthen your inner self and help you in taking good care of yourself.

Taking charge of mental health does not just mean doing things that help you get better when you have a mental health problem. Taking charge of mental health means doing little things on a regular basis that help you to develop/strengthen skills and habits to deal better with day-to day challenges in your life.

We spoke about “Reach-In” and “Lean on” in the last two months .Here is the third strategy in the series!

Polish a ‘P-Skill’!

If you were to make a list of all the new things that you intentionally choose to learn in your life, how long that list would be? A page or two or more…?

Your list could range from learning to ride a bicycle, drive a four-wheeler, paint, cook a new dish, garden, use a smart phone or a new app or a new software program or a new language.

Beyond things we are routinely/almost automatically expected to learn in the course of your life, say, taking care of yourself, there are hundreds of things that we intentionally pick to learn because we like to learn that as matter of hobby or realize that it can be useful in our career or life in general.

If you were to make a list of things that you chose to learn how many of these would be ‘psychological skills’ – skills that help us deal with common challenges in life and help us to move ahead despite the challenges?

Let me name some of these psychological skills: managing our anger, dealing with interpersonal conflicts, negotiating, resisting temptations, persisting with our task despite obstacles, learning to minimize excessive worrying or excessive self-criticality, being self-confident in social situations, learning to tolerate differences, being sensitive to others’ needs as much as yours …Well, the list could go on!

Taking charge of mental health would also mean investing time and energy in learning such skills which we tend to ignore- skills that can contribute to our well-being and resilience. These may not be things that you put in your CV with but these would certainly be skills that help you succeed in the roles that you choose to perform or the goals that you pursue in your life.

Now, think about how you systematically put efforts in learning to drive / use a computer program- over a period of time and don’t expect to learn them in a day or two just because you decide that you have to learn that.

Do you say to yourself that you would start driving from now onward and expect to acquire driving skills magically- if you have told yourself this a couple of times or even if you have closely watched someone drive or started the engine/locked the car door a couple of times?? Sounds funny?

But this is how we sometimes behave when we are intending to learn a psychological skill! We may tell ourselves that we would be more disciplined/ less reactive and calmer/more persistent etc. and just miraculously expect that our intention would be sufficient to pick that psychological skill!!

Leaning/polishing psychological skills too require investment of time, energy and systematic efforts. So, we suggest you to challenge yourself to identify one of the P-skills that you wish to polish; that you believe will help you in your life. Then make a realistic plan to work on it for the next few months. Find out the resources you can use to hone such a psychological skill- may be talk to someone who seems to do that well- ask them for tips, read a self-help book, visit a website that gives you some ideas on that, join a workshop on the theme or even meet a psychologist. Of course all these resources may be of use, if you engage in monitoring yourself on that skill you are trying to strengthen, make small goals, practice in small ways consistently, chart your progress over time and pat yourself for trying. Call it your development- project or your P-square (psychological project) or use any other name that you fancy. Enjoy the process of intentional growth!