There is so much information about mental health these days that it can be overwhelming to think about the amount of work that seems to be needed to function properly – and it’s daunting even to know where to start. Do I need to download a attention app or buy a self-help book? And if so, which one? Am I struggling “enough” to justify seeing a therapist or asking my doctor about medication?
Check your measurements when you are exhausted.
Source: Photo by Josh Duke on Unsplash
Of course, each of these options can be good – taking action, any action is probably better than doing nothing if you feel stuck. But none of these places have to be where we start.
Imagine that your car stops working suddenly. You go ask your mechanic what the problem is and offer your personal hypotheses after doing a quick internet search. I think my battery may be exhausted or I may have a bad starter. It could be a problem with my engine too … Do you think I should just get a new car? Sometimes it turns out that you just ran out of gas and have to fill the tank.
There may be nothing “wrong” with your car, just as there may be nothing “wrong” in your brain. We can forget that our brain needs recharging or recharging (if you have a Tesla brain) just like everything else we use that requires energy. It can be difficult to tell when we’re running out until it’s too late, and even the meters we rely on to tell us how much we have left in the tank can be inaccurate. Can we accept our natural needs for refueling and the natural limitations that prevent us from continuing indefinitely without a break? We all consume fuel of varying intensity and volume based on our different levels of activity each day. According to our personal brands and models, some of us can last longer than others without having to refuel, but in the end we all run out of gas.
The acronym FUEL it can help us remember to check that our basic needs have been taken into account before reaching for more complex, perhaps unnecessary, solutions.
Фriends: Higher social integration in childhood and adolescence has been shown to predict lower blood pressure and body mass index, measured in adulthood almost 20 years later.1 Research shows that friendships can reduce the symptoms of depression, especially in at-risk teens.2
Уtilities: Did you know that there is a link between increased water intake and decreased levels of depression?3 Utilities refer to those things that our home needs to function, which our body also needs: water, energy, garbage collection. Ask yourself if you drink enough water, if you get the right kind and amount of energy through your diet and keep your body clean and free from the accumulated remnants of daily life.
EExercise: It may be counterintuitive, but there may actually be an inverse relationship between exercise and low energy and fatigue.4 In other words, exercise can energize us, even if we think it will make us more tired and exhausted.
L.eisure: People who enjoy more enjoyable activities have been found to have higher levels of positive psychological well-being, as well as lower levels of depressive symptoms and negative effects.5 Higher levels of engagement in recreational activities also correlate with physiological factors such as lower cortisol, lower blood pressure levels and perceptions of increased physical function. Free time allows us to experience increased positive emotions when communicating with good company or doing pleasant activities for their own sake, while giving our minds and bodies a chance to recover the resources spent during a hard day’s work.
Try “FUEL” this week before concluding that something is broken and see if there is a difference.