When you get up in the morning, do you feel energetic and clear-minded or do you find yourself stumbling around until you get your morning cup of coffee? Maybe you're still feeling fuzzy after you drink that first cup and you set up your laptop at your desk. Over the past week you've typed in the incorrect password to try to unlock your computer three times. For a minute you couldn't even remember what it was even though you have to use it every day. Last week you couldn't find your keys before you left for work and even though your wife asked you to pick up the dry cleaning on your way home you totally forgot. Why have you been so absent-minded lately? There are lots of reasons for lack of mental acuity and most of them aren't serious. You might have too much on your mind right now or you might be under an abnormal amount of stress. Most mental fuzziness can be attributed to moving too fast and not being mindful of what you're doing. If you slow down and don't try to clutter your mind with too many things at once, you'll feel more focused and enhance your level of concentration.
In addition to being free of mental illnesses and neuroses, an individual with sound mental health has most of the following qualities:
- Able to think logically and make sound decisions without too much ruminating
- A stable common sense way of dealing with everyday challenges
- A solid level of emotional intelligence in analyzing how others feel
- Mental fortitude or strength, doesn't come apart at the seams easily
- Mental clarity
- Knows how to control his or her stress level
- Doesn't procrastinate unnecessarily
- Doesn't sit around feeling self-pity
- Doesn't self-sabotage himself or herself
- Has a good grip on his or her emotions
- Is able to concentrate and has a good memory for facts and events
- Is able to focus for extended periods of time
- Doesn't experience too much inner conflict
- Doesn't have wild mood swings
Your mental health can be improved but first you need to take stock of the negative self-talk that's hampering your progress.
What's Holding You Back from Improving Your Mental Health?
Much of the action you take every day is controlled by your subconscious mind. A co-worker makes a snide remark and you get very upset because the phrasing he used reminds you of something your abusive stepfather used to say. When you were younger, maybe your mom used to call you a "procrastinator" so you grew up thinking this was an aspect of your character that you couldn't change. Maybe you grew up in an angry household where your father had outbursts of rage and you've been called "hot-blooded" yourself. Maybe deep down you believe that your ability to concentrate for extended periods of time isn't good and that you can't improve. The truth is that everyone can improve mental acuity by training the subconscious mind. The first step is to identify any negative thought patterns you may be feeding yourself.
Curing Negative Self-Talk Patterns
Review these statements and see if any of these sound familiar to you.
- "Lately I just can't concentrate. I'm distracted and I can't focus. I have way too much on my mind."
- "My memory is shot. I'm worried because I've been having a lot of senior moments lately."
- "I feel so overwhelmed. I don't know what to do next. Every decision seems like a mountain to climb."
- "My dad was right. I just don't have any common sense."
- "Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm boring others when I talk. I can't tell by the look on their faces how they feel."
- "When there's an emergency, I get really scared and then I don't know what action to take."
- "I feel that when I really want to succeed and it's important to me, I always do something to sabotage myself. I don't even know I'm doing it."
- "I hate making decisions. I can't sleep at night worrying about whether I made the right one or not."
- "I can't read a book or fill-in a crossword puzzle. It requires too much concentration."
If you find yourself making statements like these, you're causing a lot of your own problem by emphasizing mental weakness instead of mental strength.
Using Positive Affirmations
Contemplate the areas of your mental function that you'd like to improve and create some customized affirmations to use throughout the day. If you repeat a few of the most important affirmations daily, you'll get your conscious mind and subconscious mind to work together to influence a radical shift. Here are some suggestions but you should play with the wording until it speaks to you.
- "I feel sharp and clear-headed today."
- "I love to concentrate and focus on my projects for long periods of time."
- "I find it easy to make decisions once I consider the facts."
- "When I slow down and am mindful of what I'm doing, I remember everything important."
- "I'm able to calm myself with deep breathing whenever I need to."
- "When I have a setback, I can pick myself up easily."
- "My memory is improving every day."
- "I'm able to think on my feet."
Write some of your favorite affirmations on cards and place them where you'll see them every day.
Using Hypnosis or Self-Hypnosis
When you try to make substantive changes in the way your mind works, one of the things that frequently happens is your conscious mind will throw out your new affirmation before you can even begin. For example, suppose your affirmation is: "I'm blessed with common sense and can easily think on my feet in any situation." If in reality you grew up in a household where your father was constantly saying "that child has no common sense," you might have accepted the statement as true, so when you try to change it, your conscious mind kicks it out. By introducing the positive affirmation during hypnosis, you can ensure that your subconscious mind will get the message and your conscious mind won't reject it. To undergo hypnosis, you can work with a hypnotherapist or you can hypnotize yourself. To hypnotize yourself, find a quiet place where you can remain undisturbed for at least 1/2 hour to an hour. Get your body to relax by telling each muscle to relax and let go. Begin by working on relaxing your toes and come all the way up your body until you've reached your eyelids and facial muscles. Once you're completely relaxed, you'll be on the edge of sleep. This is the time when repeating your affirmations will go direct to your subconscious.
Using Subliminal Audio
Another way to quickly retrain your subconscious is to use subliminal audio. Subliminal audio contains the positive affirmations at a level of sound that doesn't enter your conscious mind, but can be absorbed by your subconscious mind. The positive affirmations are layered under music or other background sounds so that the information isn't revealed to your conscious mind. In this way, your conscious mind can't reject the message you're sending to your subconscious mind. After listening for a number of weeks, you'll notice that the mental focus and concentration that you hoped to achieve is now yours.
Using Visualization Techniques
Visualization is another powerful technique you can use to achieve your goals for mental health. See yourself working on your projects for extended periods of time. Envision yourself calm and collected in the midst of an emergency. Imagine yourself as being able to come up with concise, well-thought-out answers, now matter who you're speaking with. See yourself being able to make quick, reliable decisions, without second-guessing yourself.