For Men's Health Week 2021, Watkin Jones Group Investment Director Manu Dinamani shares his tips for staying mentally fit and well.
What does good mental health mean to you?
Firstly, I think it helps to think of mental health as mental fitness. To me, it is inevitable that life brings about many positive moments, but equally negative or challenging ones. Good mental health is about having the strength and resolve to deal with what life throws at you.
I’ve been through challenging times where my mental fitness was poor, which left me tired, depressed, dejected and feeling like there was no real way out. Nowadays I can deal with worse, and it feels a lot easier, primarily because I’ve got techniques to help improve my own mental fitness.
When you think of it like fitness, it helps with the recognition that firstly mental wellbeing is not so black and white, and secondly, much like physical fitness, it can be developed regardless of our relative starting points.
What do you do to stay on top of things?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had the help of a professional several years ago that shared a few key techniques I still use today. Having to use a therapist was something I was embarrassed of, yet now I know that much like using a personal trainer, this allowed me to be better equipped to become the best version of myself. Many of the things I learned however can be used by everyone and aren’t just for those suffering from depression.
Manu's tips for mental fitness
Talking openly with someone close without fear of judgement was key for me. It helped organise my thoughts, and quite often added different perspectives to my ways of thinking.
The 5 Minute Rule
A bad thought can quickly snowball into a day of negativity. We all have our worries. The “5-minute rule” was a good method of helping sift the important stresses from those less so. If it won’t matter 5 years from now, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it. There are obviously items that will most certainly matter in 5 years’ time – It’s important to try and think logically about the probability of the sequence of events that will have to transpire to arrive at the bad situations that we are anxious about.
Starting the morning with one simple mundane task that helps provide a sense of achievement. Spending a minute reflecting on all the things I’m grateful for helps keep my mind balanced, especially when stressed. Having this small win to start the day and thinking about all the positives in life really does help re-balance the brain.
Mind Body Connection
Stress and anxiety cause actual physical symptoms and reactions. I’m not one for lots of exercise, I played in goal for the school football team so I could avoid running! A brisk walk really does work wonders for me. Much of the population will probably need something more physically challenging!
I really can’t explain how good it feels to help others. It probably comes down to feeling like you are adding value to people’s lives. One random act of kindness can make both your day and someone else’s.
Just like physical fitness, mental fitness will fluctuate. We need to accept that. There are a lot of social pressures to be unaffected by the world around you. I think strength also comes with accepting it’s ok not to be ok all of the time.