Everyone is finally starting to acknowledge that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Nawal Mustafa, M.A., is one of the people at the forefront of this positive health movement. The Canadian-Pakistani scientist is currently working toward her Ph.D in clinical neuropsychology, but she didn’t want to wait to help people. That’s why she’s taking to Instagram as “The Brain Coach” to share helpful tips with the world.
“I started this page as a resource for those who may not have the means or courage to access professional help,” she said. “A lot of what I post are tools and information that psychotherapists may provide in therapy.”
She explained that the continuing stigma around mental health makes it imperative that we find safe places to have these conversations, which is why she’s making these resources free and easily accessible to anyone who needs them. Here are 21 of her useful tips:
1. “Anger may manifest as defensiveness. To reduce defensive behavior when communicating with someone, start with identifying your triggers and learning to control your emotions.”
2. “When we get upset or frustrated, it is easier to react (i.e. yell, scream, swear, stonewall) instead of responding, but it takes courage and self-awareness to be able to communicate our feelings.”
3. “We hold on to anger for many reasons that may be advantageous temporarily. For example, it validates our experience or shields us from justifying our own behavior.”
4. “Many of us feel dissatisfied and unhappy because we refuse to accept situations or things that we cannot change or have no control over. The only thing we can control is our response.”
5. “We are able to change the way we feel and behave by identifying our negative thoughts and changing the meaning we give them.”
6. “In this post, I wanted to bring some awareness to how anxiety can be manifested in individuals who are high achievers and push themselves beyond their limits to accomplish their goals, but are internally hurting.”
7. “Basically, a burnout is the way our brain and body reacts to prolonged stress due to feeling discouraged and exhausted. We tend to become cynical when burnt out and start to perform poorly at work because we start to hate it.”
8. “Workplace burnout is now officially recognized as a mental health concern by the World Health Organization, who included it in its International Classification of Diseases.”
9. “When feeling burnt out, it is important to first identify the root of the problem and then create a personalized tool kit with ways that will help you manage or eliminate this stress.”
10. “Pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion will result in you feeling worn out, losing focus, and having reduced cognitive functioning. You may think you’re working hard, but you are most likely not working efficiently.”
11. “Stress is a normal reaction to the everyday pressures of life. Our body and brain can handle stress in little doses, but when stress becomes chronic or long-term, it can have detrimental effects on our health.”
12. “Research shows that chronic stress results in chemical responses in the brain that keep us amped up. This can become addictive because we start to rely on that stimulation.”
13. “When we have low self-worth, we often seek outside validation to try to find happiness and feel valued. We do things for others, putting our own needs and wants aside. This can be exhausting.”
14. “Our thoughts influence how we feel and behave towards a situation. This is the basic concept behind cognitive behavioral therapy.”
15. “The narcissistic parent: You receive their love but it is unpredictable and conditional. It feels like you’re walking on eggshells around them.”
16. “I recently read an article where Sherie Stines, a therapist who specializes in abuse and toxic relationships, simplified manipulative behavior into three factors: fear, obligation, and guilt.”
17. “Chronic patterns of manipulative behavior may be due to deep-seated feelings of insecurity or fear of abandonment.”
18. “An active mindset means taking ownership of your unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. It means holding yourself accountable.”
19. “Protect your energy. Protect your emotional space. Protect your time. This is self-care.”
20. “We are all more than capable of seizing control of our life and our healing. Some of us may have to work harder than others, but we are all capable and deserving of creating a better future for ourselves.”
21. “How can I help a loved one who is going through depression?”
We can all benefit from these gentle tips! Thank you, Nawal, for making these resources so accessible and encouraging everyone to prioritize their mental health.
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