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Navigating Mental Health with Metacognitive Magic ✨

Spoiler Alert: There's a mental health crisis on the rise.

Navigating mental health challenges is becoming an increasingly prevalent topic and thankfully it's no longer confined to those in therapy or on medication.

From navigating tricky work dynamics to battling addiction (ranging from mild to severe), from juggling unrealistic work targets to striving for parental perfection, financial stress to just muddling through the daily grind—many of us find ourselves in the thick of it.

It's a phenomenon I witness far too often in my classes and retreats.

Unfortunately, we often neglect to take inventory of our mental state. Let's face it, most of us shy away from labelling ourselves as mentally unwell—I mean, who wants to admit they're a little mad?

(Let's be real, if you've never felt a smidge off-kilter, you might just be the maddest of them all.)

But how do we cope with this rollercoaster ride? Sorry to burst your zen bubble, but striking the Bird of Paradise pose or mastering the side crow isn't going to magically sort things out.

If anything, contorting your body into pretzel-like shapes might NOT be the prescription you need if your mind and nervous system are in perpetual overdrive.

Let's delve into some tried-and-tested strategies I've personally unearthed over the years.

A big part of the solution lies in developing metacognition (think of it as the cousin of mindfulness practices).

First things first, what exactly is metacognition? It's simply the art of thinking about your own thinking.

Metacognition also has the side effect of sparking neuroplasticity. Think of it as bench pressing for your brain.

By consistently evaluating our thoughts, we create new neural connections, bolstering our brain's ability to communicate effectively with itself.

But how do we flex our metacognitive muscles without jetting off to a retreat? (not all of us can afford that kind of inner peace on a whim.)

Mental Health Hack 1: Journaling when Ruminating

Ever feel like your thoughts are doing laps in your head like a hyperactive monkey? Buddhists called it the "monkey mind," and it's a real struggle. But jotting down those racing thoughts can be incredibly therapeutic, giving you some much-needed distance from the chaos. Even if it's just one sentence—"Feeling tense today"—getting it out of your head and onto paper can be a game-changer.

Mental Health Hack 2: Countdown and Distract

When you catch yourself endlessly ruminating on a single thought, try counting backward from 10 to 1 and then pivot to a new thought. It might take a couple of tries, but it's like hitting the reset button on your worry meter. Research even backs this up as an effective way to shift your thinking from panic mode to problem-solving mode. (from amygdala to prefrontal cortex mind)

Mental Health Hack 3: The Daily Reflection Duo

Take a moment at the end of each day (or whenever you can squeeze it in) to ask yourself two simple questions:

What am I grateful for today?

How could I have handled things better?

These questions force you to pause, reflect, and recalibrate. They're like a mental tune-up for your soul.

I can't stress enough how much these strategies have changed the game for me. While my daily meditation practice certainly laid the groundwork for self-awareness, these actionable tips are like little lifeboats in the sea of endless thoughts.

P.S. Remember, if you're really struggling with mental health, seeking professional help is always the wisest move.

Stay curious, stay mindful,

Mike ❤️ 🧘🏻‍♂️ 🌈 🧠


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