How are you… really?
After a tough few years here in Melbourne, now is a good time to focus on full recovery. Are you looking after your diet and getting enough sleep and exercise?
Going beyond the basics, are you allowing time for play, connecting with self and others, being creative and getting out in nature?
Are you feeding your soul with joy?
Today is World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Awareness, Belonging, Connection’ with the message ‘Look after your mental health, Australia.’
I’ve been thinking a lot about awareness, belonging and connection lately, and their importance to our mental health.
Disconnection can lead to feelings of insecurity, invisibility and loneliness, which understandably impacts negatively on our mental health. A meta-analysis on loneliness found that living with loneliness increased the odds of dying early by 45 per cent!1 This is big stuff.
On the flip side, recent research also shows that feeling like you belong in close social relationships and within your community is vital for good wellbeing.2 It’s also important for us to feel a sense of belonging to ourselves. As Brené Brown says: “We have to belong to ourselves as much as we need to belong to others.” (Atlas of the Heart, 2021)
Developing connection with self and others is an important part of cultivating joy in one’s life. And cultivating joy is how we go from surviving to thriving. It’s what allows us to meet inevitable stresses with presence and compassion. Our own cultivation of joy can become a gift to ourselves and others, and to a troubled world.
Cultivating a life of joy is not just about chasing momentary pleasures you get from things like eating a chocolate bar. It requires you to have awareness of what brings true happiness to your life, and to add joyful practises to your daily routine.
I’m privileged to witness the profound effect of joy on people’s mental health through the Awakening Joy course I run here in Melbourne. Through the course, I teach basic principles and supportive practices to help people to connect to joy within themselves and develop their natural capacity for wellbeing and happiness.
Learning how to cultivate joy can not only protect your mental health, it can take your wellbeing to a whole new level. If you’re interested in a journey that will help you to de-stress and shine a light on the happiness that resides within you, I would love to see you at the next Awakening Joy course, starting in May 2023.
1Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton (as outlined in Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, 2021)
2Brooke Massey, Alice Vo Edwards, and Laura Musikanski, “Life Satisfaction, Affect, and Belonging in Older Adults”, Applied Research in Quality Life, 16 (2021): 1205-19.