Lessons From Space To Promote Your Well-being and Mental Health

These past few weeks, amongst everything else, have included a whole bunch of tasks and exercises with my daughter during her home schooling. This term has been all about astronauts and space, with research, reading and writing about famous space names such as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Tim Peake.

We've been learning all about their lives, Apollo 11, the moon landing, the International Space Station and a bunch of other related facts and information (making sure to include some chronological facts, past tenses, relative clauses, technical information and more!).

As part of her work, we watched a live video questions and answer video with Tim Peake, the British astronaut (who seemed like a very friendly, decent chap as he answered questions from young people). He covered a whole range of things, from his childhood and early education, all the way through to his time on the International Space Station and his current work. I certainly didn't expect him to describe the smell of space as being like burnt toast (which I think would just make me feel hungry the whole time!).

One of the areas he touched upon was about how he supports his own mental health and well-being, give that being in space can be a pretty unusual and detached experience. And, if it's good enough for an astronaut, then I think there are a few pointers we can all take, and include in our own approach, towards our mental health and well-being.  

wellbeing and mental health ely

 

Mental Health and Well-Being 

There's no doubt of the pressures and high expectations that come with being an astronaut. There's all the training and development, the excitement and there's the knowing that one small mistake could have massive consequences.

Peake described the sense of quiet and detachment that comes from being up there, looking down on Earth. And whilst there are a lot of things that need doing, comradery and busyness up on a space station, there must also be much that is restrictive or repetitive, and I'm guessing there is certainly a lot of time for thinking (and as we all know, time to think can exacerbate those stresses, worries and anxieties inside of your head).

So what sorts of things can we take from a world-famous British astronaut that can help and support the rest of us with our mental health and well-being. Well, these are a few of the things I picked up on while watching the live interview with my daughter:

1. Appreciate Yourself

Tim Peake describes himself as having been an ''average student' at school and as having an 'ordinary' childhood. There was nothing special or unique in his education or life as he grew up. What's more important is that he followed his passion, worked on his self development as a person and continued to learn. 

And so, if he was able to reach such heights (which is kind of a bad joke), then you are also capable of achieving in your life. Of course, any goals worth achieving involve time, energy, education and persistence, yet you are more than capable of taking action, adapting, learning and staying committed to your values, personality and dreams. 

Some people give themselves a hard time about perceived weaknesses or flaws they think they have. Yet, you are always more than those things so appreciate the good qualities, knowledge, skills and abilities you have too. Recognise that you don't need to be a certain way, to fit someone else's expectations or to be perfect. Appreciate yourself for the whole, awesome, person that you very much are.

 

2. If You Make A Mistake, Smile

No matter who you are and what you do in your life, it's pretty inevitable that you will make some mistakes along the way. We all mess up from time to time, say the wrong thing, make a bad decision, inadvertently upset someone, wish we'd done something differently or make some other kind of error or mistake (even with the best intentions not to). It happens and how you react to it can affect your mental health, sense of well-being and how you move on (or not) from it.

While he was up there at the International Space Station, Tim Peake accidentality called a wrong number on the phone (I know, they have phones in space and can call Earth...that's nuts!). He went to call his sister and dialled the number incorrectly (it was the middle of the night for us at the time). He made what could have been a pretty embarrassing mistake, and one that people the world over would hear about. Rather than try and hide the fact, or worry about it, or use to be hard on himself, he seems to have smiled and it and turned it into a nice little anecdote that shows that he's just a regular, normal person like you and me.

We all mess up sometimes. Learn from it if you can but don't let it define you, bring you down or damage your mental health. Stay strong, smile if you can, shrug if you want to and recognise that stuff happens.

 

3.  Get Out In Nature

Getting out in nature is hugely beneficial to your mental health and well-being. The science shows that spending time in nature produces significant benefits in reducing your stress and anxiety levels and in boosting your sense of mental health and well-being. Just ten or twenty minutes sitting or walking in nature can have a meaningful impact in reducing stress, anger and anxiety.

When asked about what he missed most about life on Earth whilst he was up in space, Tim talked about missing nature. Up on the space station, where everything is a bit sterile and mechanical, he would have loved to have been able to be around some green.

For those of us not in space, appreciating the nature around us, and consciously noticing it and spending time in it, can have huge mental health benefits. So get out in nature today!

The benefits are there all the year around, and research during the current Covid-19 pandemic has found that the frequency of green space use, and the existence of green window views from within the home, are associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness and decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

For more on the science behind this, have a read of these articles:

Reduce Anxiety and Stress With Nature During The Pandemic

Using Nature To Reduce Stress and Boost Mental Health

Using Nature To Positively Impact Your Mental Health

 

4. You Need Time To Relax

With all the business of life, it's important to find time to relax and to give your brain and body time off from all those demands and challenges. If you just keep treating life as a sprint to get everything done as quickly as possible, then sooner or later the wheels will come off (or you'll come crashing back down...another bad joke!). 

Being in a confined living space and having to carry out specific, sometimes challenging tasks, means that an astronaut needs to take time off and needs to know when to relax to look after their own mental health.

It's important to have some quality down-time in your day and to look after your mental health and well-being. So do take time out to relax (and avoid the temptation to treat looking after yourself as something you'll get around to when you have the time). If you need some help to relax then download a copy of my awesome rapid relaxation free hypnosis download right now (Rapid Relaxation Hypnosis Download - GET IT FREE - Dan Regan's Hypnosis Downloads (danreganhypnotherapy.co.uk).

 

5. The Value of Gratitude

It's a common human tendency to take some  things in our lives for granted. We get used to things as they are and so we can stop noticing them, or appreciating them fully. That can be things other people do or things about ourselves. We can take our partners, friends and kids for granted and assume they will always be there and that there will be time to do things sometime in the future. We can take our physical and mental health for granted and the people, things and places around us. We can start to fail to appreciate these things as much as we once did.

In space, as I've mentioned above, you can miss nature, something that we might take for granted and not notice too much when we encounter it daily. And I think that for an astronaut, being apart from family and friends for an extended period of time, must certainly mean that once back on Earth and with your loved ones, you value and appreciate them and your time with them in a special, enhanced way. For those of us who haven't been able to see loved ones for a long time in person, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that moment when we are reunited again is going to be something valued and appreciated that we express gratitude for.

The research shows that practising gratitude has major positive benefits for your mental health and well-being. It can boost your self-esteem, reduce self-criticism, and help you to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. 

 Given how simple a thing it can be to adopt gratitude practices, the science suggests that we could all benefit from implementing them purposefully. You can be grateful in many aspects in your life - the people, places, things, circumstances and events. You can be mindfully grateful that we have a roof over our heads, nature around you, the people in your lives, the food you eat and even that you have two feet on solid planet Earth and a whole host more of small and big things that are part of your life.

You don't have to head up into space and be separated from everything to recognise that gratitude wholeheartedly supports your mental health. 

There's more about the benefits of gratitude in these articles:

Gratitude and Well-Being: How To Improve Your Well-Being and Self-Esteem

The Impact of Gratitude on Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem and Well-being

Using Negative Visualisation To Support Having A Wonderful Life

The Benefits of Kindness - How Being Kind Can Make You Happier

 

So there we have it: five things that promote and support your mental health and well-being, based upon the example of awesome astronaut Tim Peake. Since watching the interview, I can't help thinking about the smell of burnt toast, what it must be like to feel weightless (an enjoyable and relaxing feeling according to Tim), that you only know if it's day or night in space by looking at a good, old watch, and what it must be like to have been the person who mistakenly received a phone call from space and then decided to hang up. 

Stay safe and well,

Dan Regan

Online Skype and Zoom Hypnotherapy  

Face-to-face hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

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