5 Steps to Better Physical and Mental Health: Step 5 - Accomplishment

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Step 5: Accomplishments

 

This week, as part of “Mental Health Awareness Week” - which this year has its focus on body image - I’ve been writing a daily blog describing five foundations of wellbeing and happiness. 

Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, developed the PERMA model to show what we need in our lives to feel better both mentally and physically:

This week, I’ve considered how each pillar can help us to see body image in a different light and to build towards a healthier mind and way of living. There are two aspects to body image:

 

  1. how we think about ourselves and our bodies

  2. how others perceive us and the effect that can have on our mental state

 

So, on day 5 of this series, we’re talking about accomplishments

Working towards goals

We’re often at our best when we’re working towards longer term, meaningful goals. This might be at work, or could be related to hobbies, family or other areas of your life. And interestingly, neuroscientist Alex Korb says 

“achieving the goal is often less important to happiness than setting the goal in the first place.”

 

So what’s the best way to set goals?

 

Stretching into a goal

 

The goals you set for yourself need to stretch you too (you won’t feel satisfied if they’re too easy!). A good way for keeping you on track is to break down your big goals into smaller ones. Make a plan that adopts a bronze, silver, gold approach and it’ll seem more manageable at the outset and, probably, more achievable in practice.

 

Try planning a WOOP

Psychologist Angela Duckworth, who specialises in understanding GRIT (what enables people to keep working towards difficult goals) recommends the practice of WOOP as one way to play around with goal setting. She says, 

“You begin by identifying a wish or goal you want to achieve. Next, you mentally imagine one positive outcome of achieving this goal and one obstacle that stands in the way. This reflection sets you up for the final step: making a plan for how you can get around that obstacle”.

You can learn more about WOOP at Angela Duckworth’s Character Lab: https://vimeo.com/235975265

Grit helps us to bounce back when things don’t go well. But it’s not an innate characteristic that we’re either born with or not - it’s a skill we can learn, with practice. 

What about goals related to body image?

As we’ve been exploring wellbeing in relation to body image this week, it's important to think about what’s helpful and unhelpful when it comes to setting goals related to our bodies. Many people want to set goals related to achieving a particular size or weight. And although these are specific and measurable goals, sometimes, regardless of the effort and good work you’ve been putting in, you may not feel like you’re getting closer to your goal. 

A different way to look at this, might be to focus instead on what we call ‘process goals’. These are the actions you take everyday to help you move towards your goals. For example, instead of setting a goal to be a particular size, set yourself the goal of eating at least 5 fruits/vegetables per day and doing 30 minutes of exercise. 

Self-compassion

As with all goals we set ourselves, it’s important to develop a healthy dose of self-compassion too – especially when we fail. We’ll all fail at some point, so being kind to ourselves at such times (rather than beating ourselves up about our failures) makes it much more likely that we’ll keep working towards our goals in the future. I think the hashtag for this year’s Mental health awareness theme says it all: #BeBodyKind. 

So, as we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness week, I hope you’ve learned some new ways for taking care of your mental health. Please do get in touch, I love to hear feedback as it helps me know what I can improve and whether or not I’m on the right track in working towards my own goals too. Thanks for taking the time to read these blogs.

Bye for now, Hazel