It's NOT always psychological!!
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Perhaps there is a deep rooted reason why you can't bring yourself to do X.
Perhaps there is a lack of desire to do Y because it's just not what you really want.
Perhaps you have some sort of mental or emotional block against pursuing Z.
Or perhaps you simply don't know where to start.
A report by Natural England called "Is it Nice Outside" found that allotments and green spaces were underused by people with dementia. However, on speaking with them, and those supporting them, on the benefits of the outdoors. Key findings included that while only 20% of people with dementia considered their diagnosis to be a barrier to getting active, 83% of those offering caring support thought differently! People with dementia said the barriers were:
- Lack of transport to access the sites (including bus routes being cancelled)
- Lack of parking if access was possible
- Lack of seating
- Lack of signage
- Lack of trained staff - which increased their fear of being able to self-manage as independently as possible
- Lack of awareness of there being "dementia friendly sites" to visit!
Much of the above had little to do with an individual's desire - there were practical reasons why they simply couldn't enjoy what was on offer (if they even knew where it was!)
The same principle can be applied to wellbeing and self care!
We don't teach either!
We seem to expect people to know how to look after themselves, and just get on with it when things get tough.
Now some may have managed to do this in a healthy manner, but it cannot be expected of everyone, and it can be even harder to respond to challenging situations healthily or at least appropriately if our role models have expressed only limited behavioural choices.
How many of us simply tell our children
- Go to sleep
- Cheer up
...without really offering any tools or ideas as to how this may happen. Even with ourselves, we may tell ourselves to "concentrate", but if we don't know how, we cannot expect our brain to easily comply.
Practical exercises can make psychological health more accessible, in the same way as practical changes can improve accessibility when it comes to services and opportunities in the world around us.
There is no shame in saying asking for help...and the help doesn't need to be a deep discussion about your emotions (although that can be very helpful for some depending on context and need). Help can simply be - try this technique next you're feeling X and you want to feel Y.
So next time you feel psychologically stuck, instead of thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with you, in the first instance question if there was something amiss with your learning and consider reaching out to fill that gap first!
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the practical "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; or her Radio Show "The Wellbeing Lounge", and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt