ON a recent business trip to Durban, I invited my wife to come along. It had been a long time since either of us had the chance to travel because of all-too-familiar Covid restrictions.

So I thought it would be a good idea for us to take the trip from Gauteng to the coast together to enjoy some peace of mind away from the confines of home, the children and the daily chores of keeping house, especially during lockdown.

Gratitude is a key component towards maintaining mental wellness over these last 14 months. However, it takes more than appreciation and constant “Thank you’s” to keep one’s mental health.

Although critically important to our well-being, gratitude alone without certain actions can lead to self-pity because we don’t feel fulfilled.

Here are three tips that can give you even more reason to be gracious through the storms of life. They should also help you do better than survive whilst navigating these uncertain times and help you thrive.

Challenge yourself

Immediately some of us hear the word ‘challenge’ and all of a sudden we feel heart palpitations. Challenges can be big or small, daily or even yearly.

The key is to plan for them. The best way to conquer challenges is to first welcome them. Sounds counter intuitive, I know. However, this will prepare your mind every time you proactively tackle challenges or have to react to a challenge that tries to tackle you!

Getting up earlier each morning is a challenge. Not a monstrous one, but a challenge nonetheless. Most of us know the benefits of starting the day early in gratitude as you witness the sunrise, or in cherishing that first cup of coffee or in appreciation of a calmer start to the day that better prepares you for the work ahead.

Instead of rushing to be on time, challenge yourself by getting up earlier to benefit from a more relaxed and conscious start of the day. You will find yourself taking on greater challenges than just becoming an early riser, and you’ll be in better shape to overcome the unexpected obstacles that try to take you off course.

Eat when you’re hungry

Every ‘body’ is different, but if you’re like me, you may often get the urge to eat even when you’re not hungry! Psychological hunger typically comes from boredom, anxiety or a desire to be social. So, to improve your diet, move more.

You don’t necessarily have to gym more. Exercise is movement and we should treat it as such. If we only get our exercise while at the gym, we lose out on the opportunity to benefit from walking to the store in the fresh air, or playing with the kids at the park or doing chores around the house.

Keep yourself active and fuel your body for energy and recovery, not just for pleasure. When a function or a dinner party pops up on your calendar, enjoy it responsibly without guilt.

Socialising is an important part of our mental well-being, but there’s no need to over indulge or to have regrets. Make the most of it by practicing good eating habits regularly, so that when it is time to socialise with friends and family, you can celebrate the fact that you have been eating when hungry, not because someone convinced you it was lunchtime or dinnertime.

Take breaks

Consistency always beats intensity. So, instead of racking your brain to come up with a solution to a problem after midnight or increasing the weight on your bench press after not training for a week, work in smaller consistent bytes. Gigs of effort all at once can break us or cause burnout.

If you know that you are going to have a 15 minute break after an hour of work, you can better manage your time over the long haul and be productive for longer. Also, consider the two-week vacation after 12 months of consistency. That will help you plot your goals over the long term so that you can push yourself consistently till the end before you enjoy a long well-deserved holiday.

Also, remember breaks help us to come back stronger. The mind and body need a rest. Think of it as a catapult. You pull back to retreat from the work, but when you start again you can soar well beyond where you stopped to rest because you are revitalised.

There was plenty of work to do while in Durban: for the client, my marriage and for myself. I am glad that I gave each facet of my life and corresponding task the attention required.

Accepting the challenges whether planned or unplanned, like choosing to walk instead of hiring a car or calling an Uber. Not knowing quite how far we’d have to travel by foot nor the type of terrain, but convinced that each 6-10km power walk would be a worthwhile adventurous journey with a meaningful chat and fresh sea air to soak up from the coast!

Consistently getting up early each morning- even when we didn’t have to so that we could enjoy each sunrise in gratitude while allowing ourselves more time for productive work and an enjoyable holiday.

I am grateful for the much needed break and it only encourages me to continue to work productively towards the next anticipated break today and in the near future.