Man Wearing Red Sweatshirt and Black Pants Leaning on the Wall

So,  Welcome to post two in the mini-series about helping young men to improve their mental health.

The first post in the series focused on sorting out the foundations of your health – and we called these the 3 ‘Pillars’. They are;

-          Sleep,

-          Diet,

-          Exercise


We previously described diet, exercise and sleep like 'Pillars' and in this way they are like foundations. 

It would be awesome if all of life's emotional problems could be solved with good food, a good nights sleep and a bit of exercise, but we all know that is only part of the solution. 

This post will focus on what you can do in terms of your;

behavior and style of thinking.

As men's health week draws to a close, we have selected a list of tips from well known psychologist, Dr Jordan Peterson, which will help you to further develop a  healthy body and healthy mind. 

1 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Man Wearing White Sweater and Black Shorts About to Run

It would be amazing if in life we always, always, had someone who was there to have our back, to show us exactly what to do, to really and truly care for us. headspace cares deeply about your well-being, but the truth is we can't be everywhere and all the time. The other sad truth is sometimes people who are supposed to always be there for young people aren't. Maybe parents or guardians have passed away, maybe they have not loved you the way they should or could have. But here is something to realise;

'wherever you go, there you will be' 

That means that the person who will always be there for you, is you. 

The trick is to trust yourself, and try and manage you inner critic. You are your own responsibility, and that can feel like a heavy one, but it also means that you will always have the capacity to help yourself, so;

treat yourself with respect, like someone you are responsible for helping


2 Make friends with people who want the best for you

There is a German word, Schadenfreude, which basically means;

'pleasure that someone gets from seeing another person fail'.

It can be pretty crazy how often people who are supposed to be your 'best' friends might be happy about your misfortunes behind the scenes. Often those types of people can try and bring you down in sneaky ways. Let's say you decide you are going to get healthier and want to start skipping caffeine and instead go for runs in the morning because it help you manage your weight  - and  maybe some mental health condition you are struggling with. A 'friend' comes round to your house with donuts and cake and convinces you to skip the run and have a coffee with them instead. Let's say the week before you had told them that you were struggling and needed to make some healthy changes to your habits. Maybe they are jealous that you are gaining momentum and afraid that your positive habits will shine a light on their not so positive ones. Maybe they want to see you fail deep down? This is Schadenfreude, and try and avoid people like this as much as possible.

Make friends with people who want the best for you. 


3 Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

Nowadays it can be hard to go online without feeling like your life is boring, inadequate and pointless. There are billions of us crammed on to this planet and it seems like everyone is recording some awesome talent on their smart phone , and there are indeed tonnes of people who are richer than you, more successful than you,better looking than you, funnier than you, more popular than you, the list goes on. But as Dr Peterson points out in his book, even if you are 'one in a million' at some skill, that means that just within the city of New York alone there will be at least twenty other people as good at that skill as you.  Our brains developed when we lived in much smaller groups and we were only comparing ourselves to a few hundred people  - now we are comparing our abilities with the entire world - so give yourself a break! Also, everybody is unique and there is only one person out there who has had to go through exactly what you had to - and that is you. So the only fair comparison you can and should make is with yourself, over time. Aim today to make your life just a teeny bit better when you go to bed than when you woke up this morning.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

4 Set your house in order

Gray House With Fireplace Surrounded by Grass Under White and Gray Cloudy Sky

Dr Peterson tells young people to 'clean up their room'. This might sound pretty simple but really, really try it - you might be surprised by just how much in involved with really getting just one room in your life in order. Your sense of taste, all of your School/Uni  work, maybe attending to  unpaid bills on the desk, unfinished projects  and to do lists, learning to clean the room  properly - the list goes on. You don't have to be obsessive about it, but it helps reduce the chaos in the external world that you can control and this can bring peace to the mind. This might make you stronger and more useful to the big old world out there, so...

Set your house in order before you criticize the world 


5 Pursue what is meaningful and not just what is convenient

Short cuts are a dead end. It is as simple as that. The thing that seems to bring people the most happiness is things that are truly meaningful, like quality time with friends and family, taking care of themselves, their pets, and those around them, and just generally working every day to be a solid person! On the other hand, the thing that seems to make people sad is going after meaningless stuff like jobs or people they don't truly care about. There is no short cut to happiness, but at headspace  we can help you get on the right path for you. 

Pursue what is meaningful not what is convenient


6 Tell the truth – or, at least, don't lie

Sometimes when you have got yourself in a situation where you can't see a way out, it feels like you have no choice but to lie, but often this just makes the situation worse. That doesn't mean you will alway know the right thing to do say or feel, but often we know what the wrong thing would be. This is called your 'gut instinct' or conscience. Sometimes, the talk therapy we will do with you at headspace can help you tune in to that little voice inside your heart which is telling you what to do or not do. Amzing things can happen in our therapy rooms where you can be totally honest - in a safe and private space. We don't have all the answers as to what your truth is, but we can help you ask the right questions.

Tell the truth, or at least don't lie


7 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't

Often blokes can get caught in being 'know-it-alls' and dominating conversation - this is often out of a deep insecurity that people will think they are stupid or weak if they don't come out as 'big, loud and in command'. The truly most confident  men however are often those ones who can just sit back and listen to try and pick up new information. They are not doormats; they have their own opinions, but they don't steam-roll over the top of other people in life. You never know what awesome information you might pick up or connections you might make. Being humble can be a sign of strength not weakness. This is also very important for young men to learn how to do - as it is super important to talk to people who you might think you disagree with. Often the answer to a solution lies right in between two sides of the story.

Assume the person you are talking to knows something you don't 


8 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Brown and White Tabby Cat Sitting on Brown Brick Pathway

Huh? Basically Dr Peterson is saying that even when things seem really really low, the world will always throw you some good things to focus on. Young men often get caught up in chasing status and never stop to look around them and let the world in. If you are always chasing the 'next thing' you never stop to appreciate the little things. So the next time you are super-stressed and a cat pops out from over the top of the fence, stop, see if you can get it to come over to you, and give it a good old pet. while you are doing this, realise that it is brilliant to strive for better, but you do no need to validate your existence. You have just as much right to be here as anybody else and we here at headspace know that.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street 

 So there are 8 tips that might seem a bit cryptic but if you put them into practice you might start to notice shifts in how you feel about your self. If you are really trying to follow these tips then you might find your inner voice become a little less critical, and your self esteem starts to improve. If you need help with this, contact us !