In various ways, all of us have had our mental health and overall wellbeing challenged of late. Some have described the last two years as a time of “collective trauma” that we’re both still in and trying to recover from.
As the new year rolls on then, what can we do to lay a foundation that helps us address our emotional concerns, while also enabling us to thrive in areas of life beyond the pandemic?
On the new season of UNDISTRACTED, psychologist Jocelyn Brewer said it’s about ditching the pressure to discover “our best self”, and acknowledging the fallacy of attaining an unchanging state of happiness.
“[Happiness] comes with a whole lot of sociocultural factors of what that looks like [and the idea] that once you get there that you stay there, and if you don’t, you’re a failure,” Jocelyn said.
“What I talk to clients about is becoming satisfied, content, grounded and there being less variation between when you’re feeling good, and when you’re not feeling good.”
We all have “ups and downs” Jocelyn said, the greater concern would be if you were emotionally “flatlining”.
“I love the quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn, ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’.”
To do that well, one of the simplest things we can do that Jocelyn’s always “banging on about” is address our sleep.
“Sleep is an incredibly powerful, and free, hack for our cognitive wellbeing,” she said.
“Sleep is an incredibly powerful, and free, hack for our cognitive wellbeing,” – psychologist Jocelyn Brewer
“Basically, as we sleep, the by-products of our thinking get washed out. [We] clean out our ‘mental cobwebs’.
“The different stages of sleep, and the quality of sleep, helps with the three M’s: mood, metabolism and memory.
“[Good sleep] is foundational to our wellbeing.”
Rethinking our approach to our digital environments is also important, Jocelyn said, but it’s not about “digital detoxes” so much as embracing a philosophy she calls “digital nutrition”.
It’s not about “digital detoxes” so much as embracing a philosophy called “digital nutrition”.
“I really felt like [“digital detox”] was aligned to dieting culture and the unhelpful notions of binge and purge and restrict, rather than being intentional and intelligent with how we not only choose to spend our time, but what information and ideas and even images get to interrupt our lives,” she said.
Jocelyn suggests we ask ourselves what we’re getting out of the social media platforms (for instance) that we’re using, and consider what value systems the people we follow are promoting to us.
“By aligning to people that have the same values as you, and unfollowing people who may be sharing content that doesn’t sit particularly well with you, you can actually have a better digital diet.
“It’s not about the [device] or platform, but the people that you follow and the images that they’re posting.”
Listen to the full episode of UNDISTRACTED with guest Jocelyn Brewer in the player above, or wherever you get your podcasts.