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Nurturing Mental Wellbeing: A Practical Guide

Umbrellas protecting the ground

The beauty of human kind is that every individual is unique. When it comes to mental health, to find ways to promote inner balance, one needs to consider and explore the whole person and the perception of their unique experience. Therefore, taking care of mental health looks different for every individual.

Take time to listen to yourself, explore what you like, and add small self-care strategies. Choose what improves your mental wellbeing.

Stress is one of the main challenges for mental health. Mind and body work in sync; when one is challenged, it affects the other. Stress is not always negative as it helps perform; however, maintaining high-stress levels may alert the part of the brain that looks out for threats, keeping the amygdala aroused. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for fight, flight and freeze responses. Consequently, when the amygdala is alert, we are prone to intense emotional reactions.

Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing

Awareness is vital to know oneself enough to feel when it is time to slow down and give our amygdala a break. If you feel under pressure, nurturing your mental wellbeing to recover from stress is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of mental health awareness, of your limits and of your own unique individual needs.

Positively support your mental health by:

  • Recognising that the struggle is a symptom and not who you are.

  • Reminding the symptom is a message that has been ignored for too long.

  • Noticing your abilities to improve your confidence.

  • Coping with the stress by reducing stressors instead of improving performance.

  • Being involved in the community.

  • Exploring what you love to do.

  • Making time for self-care activities.

Mental health teddy bear

We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should get it together.

We don’t consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of.

We shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently

Michelle Obama

Bottom-up and Top-down Approaches

Taking care of your mental health implies relearning some of your daily actions and introducing new activities. Bottom-up and top-down approaches take advantage of the brain's natural functions to improve control over our reactions to the external world and our well-being.

Bottom-up approach

When responses to what is happening around you get out of control, the bottom-up approach focuses on grounding to allow you to regain control of the bottom part of your brain. The bottom part of your brain responds instinctively to what is perceived as a threat; there is no reasoning behind the reaction, and the response is faster than any communication to the thinking part of the brain. Therefore, diverting the focus to your sensory functions, regaining control, and calming the lower part of the brain is vital.

To ground yourself, you can use

Use the links to watch the videos explaining the exercises.

Mindful meditation

We are not our trauma. We are not our brain chemistry.

That’s part of who we are, but we’re so much more than that.

Sam J. Miller

Top-down approach

The brain likes to learn new things, and what we learn continuously shapes the brain. We can use this ability to make the brain work toward our needs.

Since the connection between the lower part of the brain and emotional reaction is faster, we can help the thinking part of our brain respond quicker when needed.

To facilitate the top-down process, you can train yourself daily to become more mindful.

  • Begin with five minutes of mindful thinking and take your mind back to the present every time you notice it wanders. For example, when walking in the park, notice the details of your surroundings or focus on taste and smell when eating. Depending on your availability, increase regularly the time of the exercise until you reach 15-30 minutes daily.

  • Learn to meditate. Begin with a few minutes daily and increase the time to 10-20 minutes daily.

  • Reading regularly will help the mind remain focused.

  • Journalling helps the mind make sense of your experiences.

Choose at least three exercises to practice daily, one from the bottom-up and two from the top-down approaches. Daily practice supports building the tools needed to regain control when things get out of hand and nurturing your mind.

Child missing someone

Take a deep breath to remember you are the child who lived through survival mode

and the empowered adult who chose their healing.

Dr. Nicole LePera

Nurturing Your Mental Wellbeing

When surrounded by an appropriate support system promoting internal growth, mental health improves and is maintained. Allowing more space for creativity or learning new skills can add a sense of purpose and value.

Building positive social relationships, feeling seen and included, and being recognised as a valued community member is just as vital as caring for physical health.

The basics to nurture your mental health:

  • Look out for professional help when needed.

  • Feel connected with your community.

  • Stay physically active.

  • Have regular sleep patterns.

  • Be mindful and remain in the present.

  • Listen to your feelings and learn to identify them.

  • Feel confident about your abilities.

  • Encourage purposefulness.

  • Have a work/life balance that promotes thriving.

  • Practice self-compassion

Friend socialising

Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence.

We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.

Erik Erikson

Remember, when unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it's time to reach out. Remember that you don't have to face everything alone and find someone you trust to talk to.

When you need someone to talk to, a helpline, a support group, your GP or a counsellor can make the difference and offer support.

Subscribe to this website and get 15 minutes of free online consultations. 



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