As we have reached mid-summer I thought it might provide a focus for some positive reflection on action and take the opportunity to take stock, stop and look around, as life moves pretty fast and you might miss it. In this context ‘it’ is the good things you are already doing to ensure a positive mindset.

The phrase goes ‘it’s always preferable to maintain the roof when the sun is shining’ and in this month’s blog I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the importance of regularly noticing, savouring and valuing how awesome your mind is. Think of it as regular maintenance for your mind. Regular maintenance is noticing and savouring the ‘good habits’ and more importantly understanding the value of how these good habits help in the sustaining of our wellbeing.

By maintaining the roof when the sun is shining you are putting some credit it the bank. The processes I reference in all my blogs, are that bit more challenging when it is metaphorically raining. As thoughts and feelings are a product of electrical and chemical activity it is therefore more beneficial

I recently became aware of the work done by Dom Price and their Personal Moral Inventory made me stop and think about how I will apply these principles to my practice, my own positive reflection and subsequent stocktake, so I asked myself the question ‘How well equipped am I to C.O.P.E?’

From a positive wellbeing context our ability to cope [C.O.P.E.] is a product of our ability to manage the amount of stress we put in our ‘stress bucket’. Think of the stress bucket as the reciprocal for all the negative things we are exposed to daily. That driver who didn’t thank you for letting them out, your boss not acknowledging your hard work or you come home to find that the sink is full of dirty plates. Like all buckets the stress bucket will overflow if left unchecked. When our stress bucket overflows, we will be angry, scared or sad meaning we are unable cope as well as we would wish.

Most of us will cope and this is because subconsciously you will have developed behaviours in response to a filling stress bucket that mean you are better equipped to deal with those feelings of anger, fear or sadness. You remain solution focused and able to defuse from the cause of stress, subsequently you are able to cope with the ‘ups’ and more importantly the ‘downs’ of life.

Too answer the question, how well equipped are you to C.O.P.E, consider the following four statements and traffic light them accordingly. Red – needs to be addressed, Amber – it’s working well but can be developed and Green – Celebrate the win! This C.O.P.E ‘audit’ reflects where you are right now, a snapshot, a moment in time. This, perhaps for the first time, gives you permission to reflect on action and provide a reference point for you to decide what’s next.

Now please understand that this exercise is for those who can remain objective and above all else kind, a critical friend, to yourself. This is not about rating yourself red throughout, frame this exercise as if you were facilitating it with your best friend. You would not allow your friend to be so hard on themselves to score themselves a red throughout, so please do not do this to yourself.

Be assured, if you identify that some additional help would help, then the Rowan House family are a suite of professionals who can help you to address any red’s or ambers on your list. Whether you’re looking for coaching or emotional support, individual treatments and therapies or wellbeing and fitness classes, you’ll find it here in the tranquil calm of Rowan House Health and Wellbeing Centre.

So how well equipped are you to C.O.P.E?

1. What is your ability to make positive Choices in your life? This relates to the amount of control you have, freedom and opportunity to make positive choices for your life. This is can also be referred to as psychological flexibility. Your ability to change as the situation demands it, you are well equipped to accept what you cannot control and commit to action in the areas you can.

2. How Optimistic are you for the quality of your life? How optimistic are you that your life can change and or evolve positively? When you consider this question consider what change is for you. This question does not imply your life needs changing however, what small change would make your life a little better? What does better mean to you?

3. What are the quality of the People [relationships] in your life? When you consider this question consider all the touch points those people encompass. Work, home, friends and self all provide a context for reflection. Do you surround yourself with positive people?

4. Are your Environmental needs being met? This is to be framed as need as opposed to want. When you consider this question consider what Maslow refers to as your basic needs. Basic needs are described as physiological and safety. The physiological relates to shelter, food, water and warmth. The safety relates to both the physical and emotional.

Understanding how you C.O.P.E is about nurturing your ability to better Notice, Savour and Value the good things in your life. By noticing, savouring and valuing more you are training your brain to learn what good looks like. Whether you already do this sub-consciously or not this provides the mindful moment to consciously reflect, develop and nurture positive behaviours for you, your life and your future.

To do this and get the most out of the exercise, I encourage you to journal how you C.O.P.E, specifically the things you are noticing, savouring and valuing aka the behaviours that result in you being able to cope. Get yourself a journal that reflects your personality, make the effort to get a journal that you will look forward to writing in. This is not to say that a blank A4 pad will not suffice, rather I would encourage you to see this as an opportunity to do something new to sustain and or develop your wellbeing, so let’s make this change an event shall we?

When you have traffic lighted how well equipped you are to C.O.P.E ask yourself, ask appropriate, what can you do to have more Choice, be more Optimistic, surround yourself with positive People and or improve your Environment? The important caveat here is ‘…..and what will be different when you achieve this?’ This is called ‘framing’ perhaps more commonly referred to as visioning, and as the brain sees in pictures being clear in your mind what will be different is an important part of making change happen.

I encourage you to write down in your journal that framing, aka vision, and specify the small steps you will take to achieving this. This will provide you with a focus and an action plan. What this process can also provide you is the evidence and assurance for yourself, so that you know what it is you are doing to make the changes you want for your life. Simply put, it ensures you will have ‘breadcrumbs’ to follow should you ever get lost in the future and wish to remind yourself what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Brett Rennolds is a qualified psychotherapist DSFH, HPD, MNCH NCH Supervisor and registered with the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).  Brett specialises in a solution-focused approach, complimented by the principles of CBT, ACT, mental health first aid and hypnotherapy.  He continues to provide therapy online, via an encrypted platform.  For more information please visit his website.

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