Mental Health Awareness month, happening this October, is a time to build awareness of the ways we can better look after ourselves and our mental health. Here are Birch Psychology’s eight tips for improving your mental wellbeing.
Know that it is OK not to feel OK. Know that it is OK to get help even if you feel what you are dealing with isn’t “bad enough.”
We all feel not OK sometimes, and when we do, those feelings can begin to impact our work, our study, and our relationships (including the one with ourselves!). It is important to seek help, even if you believe your problems aren’t weighty enough. There isn’t a magical threshold you have to meet before you can start therapy. If you are having a hard time and you are struggling to be the you you’d like to be, reach out, be vulnerable and find someone who can help.
Sleep can be difficult to prioritise when you have a To Do list that you didn’t clear today, the washing is still waiting, and you know that you can take some of the rush out of the morning chaos if you just get to those lunches now! Fact is, all these things (and the countless others I didn’t mention but we know are also on this list) will still be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. However, the opportunity for a full night’s sleep is gone once that night has passed! Make time for sleep, you make time for everything else so why not sleep!
Do what you care about and do it daily
Life’s too short to do what we don’t like or care about. Work out what you love and what makes your life meaningful and do these things daily! Whether it is taking time to speak with a friend, stopping whatever you are doing and savouring your hot cup of tea, spending time with your fur family or filling your lungs with some fresh air in a wide-open space.
Be kind to yourself, as often as you can
This can be tricky, but seriously, if you wouldn’t talk to a friend that way, then doesn’t it go to say that you would be better off not speaking to yourself that way too!
Eat well (yes, eating well includes enjoying some cheese or chocolate from time to time), drop the drugs and do what you can to get some exercise
Need I say more!
Try Meditation, go on, just try it and see what it does for your mood
Meditation can conjure images of hippies and Zen masters in contorted postures sitting still for hours on end! Who has time for that, and who thinks, even if I did have time, I’d never become a Zen master so why bother! But you don’t have to achieve a sense of enlightenment to meditate, just slowing down and focusing for a minute on your breath, and watching how it feels as your breath enters and leaves your body IS meditation! Do this for a 30 seconds ten times a day and you have meditated for 5 mins!
Connect in with good people
Loneliness is a hidden epidemic. Loneliness is hard, but it is harder still when you continue to feel lonely despite being surrounded by and digitally connected with hordes of people! A study by Lifeline (2016) found that 82.5% of Australians felt lonely and when you consider that feeling lonely has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day you can see why it is such a problem. So what can you do? Organise to catch up with a friend, join a social group, start a hobby, volunteer, say “Good Morning” to the stranger on the street, cuddle a fury friend!
Give yourself permission to take a mental health day when you need it
How many of us don’t flinch when the GP says, maybe you should take a day or two off when you’ve been struck down with a bug? However, how many of us feel that we shouldn’t give ourselves a day when it is our mental health that has got us beat! Taking care of ourselves is not selfish, it’s preventative – taking a day now to stop, rest and recover will do your mind and your body well, and you might just find where you left that spring in your step!
If you are feeling suicidal, contact Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis support service on 13 11 14, seek immediate help from a GP, or attend your local hospital ED.