5 tips for looking after your mental health
One in five Australians are affected by mental illness every year, yet only 54% of people seek help. Saturday, 10 October 2020, is World Mental Health Day. Due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s theme is Look after your Mental Health, Australia. To help you start looking after your mental health, check out the resources and tips below.
Gratitude has become a common phrase. But what does it mean? Gratitude is the act of focusing on the good in our lives and being thankful for what we already have.
Regularly practising gratitude increases our overall happiness. By showing gratitude, we form positive emotions, highlight our good experiences, appreciate what we have, build our relationships and create perspective (Source: Harvard Medical Journal).
Ways you can practice gratitude include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal where you write three things you’re thankful for each day
- Writing thank you notes
- Reflecting on experiences, items and people you are grateful for
- Thank people in person or mentally
- Remembering and celebrating your achievements
See more information on the benefits of gratitude and exercises you can try here.
Plus, watch ‘the happy brain’ video to see how the pursuit of gratitude will make you happier than searching for happiness.
Building healthy relationships and connections is important for maintaining good mental health. When we feel supported, we are more likely to open up, feel less lonely and know we are safe.
Checking in on friends and family, whether in person or digitally, shows commitment to the relationship, benefiting the wellbeing of all parties in the long term.
Finding belonging in a community is another way to build connections. Some ideas include joining:
- Sports teams
- Online communities
- Cultural clubs
- Religious groups
- Book clubs
- Social clubs
- Classes for education or hobbies
For more information on connections, click here.
Focusing on your health and lifestyle can have a significant impact on your mental health. Finding a balance of eating well, exercising and getting enough quality sleep improves our mood and helps us perform at our best.
Regular exercise benefits both your physical and mental health. When you increase your heart rate, more blood is pumped to your brain, releasing chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, both of which increase happiness. Exercise is proven to lower stress, anxiety and depression, plus, it can help you sleep better. Learn how much exercise you need and more of the benefits here.
There is a strong link between how we feel and what we’re eating. Foods like fruit, vegetables and wholegrains contain vitamins and nutrients which positively impacts brain health, boosting our mood. However, eating foods with high sugar and saturated fats can make us feel sluggish and worse off. Learn more about the impact of food here.
Sleep is vital to functioning at our best and supporting a healthy mindset. Sleeping is when your body and brain repairs from the previous day and prepare you for the day ahead. Most Australians need around 8 hours of sleep every night to perform at their best. However, deep sleep is when most of the repairing takes place and can affect your mental health the next day. Lack of sleep includes lack of energy, poor concentration, irritability, a weakened immune system and increase of anxiety.
Learn how to improve your sleep here.
Deep dive into the science of sleep with Matt Walker, a scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mental Health Calendar
The calendar includes activities like sitting in the sun, phoning a friend, trying something new, wearing your favourite outfit or watching a show you love.
Although October has already started, it’s not too late to start using the calendar! You can also use it as inspiration to create your own month of wellbeing.
Ask for help
Reaching out to professionals for help ensures you receive the resources, strategies and support to help you look after your mental health and recover.
You can talk to your GP about how you’re feeling and the possibility of creating a mental health plan. Through this path, you might be able to access up to 20 sessions with a psychologist (bulk billed or discounted). See more on how to talk to your doctor here.
If you need someone to talk too, there are people who are ready and willing to help. No issue is too small, your privacy will be valued, you will be listened to, and you provided with a safe space to look at solutions. You can reach out too: