We all know that life is complicated, so it can be helpful to break down all of those moving parts into a few simple components. That’s why I love the 4 Circles of Mental Health—the basic four aspects of life that can create a positive (or negative) influence on a person’s life, from maintaining our mental and cognitive health to prioritizing certain behaviors. By integrating all of these in our everyday lives, we can become elite brain performers and truly start living our most fulfilling lives. If you’re looking for ways to bring your best self to the game, follow these tips based on meeting each circle’s needs.
The question behind any of our achievements and goals should come down to one word: Why? Simply put, why do you care? What drives you to want to be elite in your life? What’s your reason for being, your purpose? Click To Tweet
Optimize Your Life With the 4 Circles of Mental Health
In a nutshell, the 4 Circles of Mental Health incorporate the spiritual, biological, psychological, and social areas of your life. Let’s take a deeper look at each one and what it entails.
My competitive nature means that I like to excel. If I’m going to do something, I want to do my best—not someone else’s best, but mine. But the question behind any of our achievements and goals should come down to one word: Why? Simply put, why do you care? What drives you to want to be elite in your life? What’s the point—your reason for being, your purpose?
For example, my husband, Daniel, believes he’s been put on the earth to make a positive difference in the lives of other people. I felt the same way when I started hearing from people about how my painful past and life experiences, as I described in my book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, affected them—I realized it was my calling to help others who had been through similar things. Is there some pain in your past that you can transform into purpose?
The spiritual circle can also be connected with a person’s moral codes, ancestors or heritage, future generations, or a higher power like God. And, in addition to locating your life’s purpose and living according to your highest values, it’s a good idea to spread this positivity through random acts of kindness. Ultimately, this aspect reminds us that we are more than physical beings, and that we all have a calling that transcends our bodies’ limitations. Caring for our spiritual side not only adds forward momentum to our lives, but it prevents us from experiencing feelings of meaninglessness, which can lead to more serious mental health consequences like depression, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts.
Our biology is the hardware we’re working with, governing our physical functioning, including brain and full-body health. Needless to say, if we aren’t working with an optimal physical vessel (starting with our brain), it’s difficult to truly perform at our best or create the maximum success and overall well-being. That’s why it’s so important to eat a diet that encourages brain health, exercise every day, challenge yourself mentally, take the appropriate supplements for ample nutrition, and make sure you get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated.
All of these steps will ensure that your brain is working at its best and will help keep mental health concerns and other physical conditions at bay. We already know that health issues in the body can affect our mental health, and vice versa—so maintaining a healthy body helps prevent conditions like anxiety, depression, and memory loss.
If your body is the hardware, your mind can be considered the software. Managing your mind and psychological well-being through steps like positive self-talk, maintaining a strong sense of self, working to resolve any past trauma, and coming to terms with your upbringing and personal development is a crucial component of mental health. For example, many of us harbor damaging feelings about ourselves, like not feeling good enough or a having negative view of our bodies, and we create the exact pitfalls in life we’re trying to avoid!
On the other hand, when we visualize success and overcome those life-draining automatic negative thoughts, we find that we are happier and are able to create healthier, more sustainable relationships. Some ways to push back against any intrusive and unwelcome thoughts include mindfulness, meditation, gratitude practices, and facing past trauma through techniques like therapy, journaling, or sharing your story with others. Holding on to past emotional trauma or constantly feeling “less than” can lead to serious physical and emotional effects, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or simply persistent feelings of sadness.
Finally, as many of us realized in the pandemic, we know that no one is an island unto themselves—humans are social creatures who crave connection. Therefore, building positive networks and relationships with others is the final key factor to living your best life. Finding the right social support has so many benefits: making us feel like we’re not alone, lowering stress levels (including through physical touch, which generates feel-good oxytocin), and challenging us to grow and perform at our best.
Keep in mind that your social circle can cast a pretty wide net, encompassing not only your closest friends and family, but your co-workers and job setting, your involvement in the local community or charitable causes, classmates and teachers, or anything else that extends outside of you. To further energize this area of your life, make time for giving back (shown to boost well-being), and ensure that you surround yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down. Make quality time with others a priority, and actively work on improving your relationships with tactics like open communication, appreciation, and ongoing support.
The good news is, by improving all 4 Circles within your own life, you’ll not only benefit your mental health and well-being—you’ll naturally encourage others around you to do the same!
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