Flex your mind muscle

by Spanner in the Works

“Are we there yet?”

Apparently not. A couple of weeks into social distancing and self-isolation and we are being told that these restrictions are going to be in place for six months! So for this blog we’re focusing on the second element of the Wheel of Wellbeing Mind – Keep Learning to help you flex your mind muscle!

Without our usual routines and social contact we may start to feel a little lost. According to research into the psychological impact of being quarantined, one of the biggest challenges we are going to face is boredom. Not just young people, but all of us. So what can we do?

Try this Mind activity

Just like our body needs a workout, our brain needs a workout too – otherwise it gets flabby. So it’s important that we keep it active and challenged.

The Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has spent his life studying this. He came to the conclusion that ‘’the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times — although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Csikszentmihalyi calls these moments ‘Flow’.

Want to know more about Flow? Watch this YouTube clip

Boost your brain health

So how do we find more Flow in our lives, fight boredom and aim towards those best moments? If you watched the video you’ll know that wasting hours glued to social media or the TV is a recipe for boredom – and a flabby brain.

There’s only so many times you can see the same cat meme in your feed!

So how do you find the right activity for you – one that is both challenging and interesting?

Try using your character strengths. We all have these 24 character strengths, but some will be more pronounced than others. Surprisingly though, many of us struggle to name our character strengths let alone use them to our advantage regularly. When we use our strengths, in our work life, home life or in relationships, we tend to be more successful and happier.

Your challenge!

Take this free character strengths survey, identify your top five strengths and try using one or more of them in new ways, every day for the next week. See if you can find your FLOW! You can download a guide to using your strengths at home here.

Keep safe, well and in FLOW!

Take a look at these websites to help you keep learning:

Coursera: Build skills, achieve goals, get career ready! Great free online courses to learn something new, upskill or transition into a new field.

Smiling Mind: Thrive Inside is a special initiative to help you stay calm and healthy in the physical constraints of your home, while remaining calm and healthy inside your mind.

Open Culture: Use your time in isolation to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to – history, Latin, literature! There’s FREE online courses, audio books, eBooks, movies, colouring books…

Need help?

  • If you are experiencing a mental health crisis call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or MensLine on 1300 99 78 99.
  • For a list of national helplines and websites visit Beyond Blue
  • If you are concerned about the health and safety of yourself, family or friends, you can find government advice on Coronavirus and a 24 hour government help line for Coronavirus at 1800 020 080.
  • And here for more information on Financial Support

 

This blog is adapted from a Supporting Project of WoW, Mentally Healthy City Townsville www.mhctsv.com.au. Word document + study attribution and further resource materials are available on request. Contact Tony Coggins, Lead Associate Population Mental Health, Implemental (formerly Maudsley International) and WoW educator on wow@implemental.org for more information.

Wheel of Well-being is owned by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 International License. Information on this license is available at www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0. Adaptations need to follow brand guidelines available at www.wheelofwellbeing.org and be signed off by SLaM. For permissions beyond the scope of this license contact hello@wheelofwellbeing.org.

1 comment

markwinston 9 April 2020 - 12:42 pm

I find I’m addicted to reading every night before sleep. This is a good time to relax and put your brain through calisthenics without breathing heavy. As well if you’re playing chess with a friend far away you can go to your board and think about strategy and your next move, or perhaps what his next move will be and how to counter. Again calisthenics without breathing heavy.

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