Psychological health | Train the mind as well as the body

The recommendations are unanimous: you have to move every day – or at least a few times a week. But should we take care of our mental health just as much? Psychologist Sylvie Boucher agrees. “We can do exercises to prevent, maintain and increase our psychological health, just as we would with physical exercises. »

Psychologists are in high demand and unfortunately they are not enough to meet the demand. Although not a substitute for psychological help, exercises can be done to learn essential skills for mental health.

It is eight out of ten people who, in their lives, will enter a “dark tunnel”, explains Sonia Lupien, full professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Montreal and director of the Center for Studies on Human Stress. “Mental health issues are common,” she says.

Psychological health Train the mind as well as the


Sonia Lupien

It is therefore all the more important to build a routine to take care of our mental health. Sonia Lupien, for example, never misses her daily walk, where she “deconstructs and rebuilds her stressors”.

I believe people are still waiting for the miracle pill.

Sonia Lupien, Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal

However, the right tools to take care of your mental health are still unknown, she believes. “We know what to do to strengthen such a part of our body, but in mental health, no one really knows what to do,” says the researcher.

Where to start ?

Psychologist Sylvie Boucher indicates that there are several skills to develop. The first: stress management. Several exercises can be done on a regular basis, such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing. This last exercise particularly pleases him. “It stops the stress reaction,” she explains.

Sonia Lupien offers another technique. “You’re going to deconstruct your stressor to make your brain feel like you have control over it,” she says. She uses the acronym CINE to help us identify what can stress us out in a situation: weak control, unpredictability, novelty, and threatened ego. “Once we know why it stresses us out, we will rebuild the stressor,” explains Sonia Lupien, who then suggests that we find a plan – whether we apply it or not! – so that our brain calms down.

For our well-being, Sylvie Boucher also invites us to develop self-compassion.

Especially if we are demanding and hard on ourselves, we must be able to change our attitude so that it is benevolent.

Sylvie Boucher, psychologist

The psychologist points to another skill to include in our lives: gratitude. It may only take a few moments before bedtime to name three things to be grateful for.

“The brain tends to retain the negative, so it’s good to train your brain to see the positive,” she says.

Another exercise to integrate into our daily lives: “take time for yourself”, says the psychologist. Find a moment to take stock of our state. “You can ask yourself questions like, ‘How am I feeling?’ or ‟How was my day?”. If something sticks, she says, we pay attention to it to “change the situation or change our perceptions.”

find his methods

For her part, the young professional in her twenties Catherine Lambert does journaling for about three years. A few times a week, she finds a subject and she writes in her diary what comes to her mind. “It helps with my anxiety,” she says. It allows me to get out of my head and put things in writing. »

It is rather transcendental meditation that has imposed itself in the daily life of James Selfe, who works as an associate in a consulting firm specializing in mental health and organizational well-being. The ritual that he has established for years helps him in his regulation of emotions. “When I don’t, I feel more restless and more impatient with other people,” he says.

These two exercises “target mindfulness,” says Sylvie Boucher. “We direct our attention to what is happening here and now, both inside and outside,” illustrates the psychologist, who sees it as a good way to maintain good mental health.

But beware, these exercises are not for everyone. “It is not because it works for your sister-in-law and not for you that you are a failure, evokes Sonia Lupien. Everyone can find their method. »

We should even find several techniques, adds the researcher. “Put multiple things in your toolbox, our brains don’t like redundancy,” she says. And it’s okay if it works one day, but not the next. »

Experts agree on the fact that we must listen to each other and not go to excess. “Follow your intuition, your brain knows what it needs,” says Sonia Lupien. Psychologist Sylvie Boucher invites us to keep a balance in all of this: “too much is like not enough”, she believes.

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Psychological health | Train the mind as well as the body

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