Our modern world is a demanding one: demanding our time, our energy, our attention. Being ‘plugged in’ 24/7 has its drawbacks. In acknowledgement of World Mental Health Day, we want to shine a spotlight on the small ways in which you can boost the mental wellbeing of yourself and others. This is a time where we need to look after each other – perhaps now more than ever – and recognise the signs when we need support.
Looking after your mental health
1. Reach out for support
It can be all too easy to bottle up your negative emotions and hide this side of yourself from those you love. However, leaning on others for support and talking through your thoughts and feelings can be immensely therapeutic and help declutter your mind. This is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can often feel like the more challenging option. The courage to reach out to others is a powerful step to start to overcome obstacles that may be weighing on your mind.
2. Move every day
It’s no secret that exercise does wonders for our mental health. This doesn’t have to be a high-intensity circuit class or a marathon run – simply going for a walk, gently moving your body and filling your lungs with fresh air has short- and long-term health benefits. A 10-minute walk can make a huge difference to your state of mind. And why not meet up with a friend for your regular stroll? This has the double bonus of holding yourself accountable for exercise, plus it gives you the perfect opportunity to talk.
3. Find acceptance within yourself
Many of us are in the habit of comparing ourselves to others and doubting ourselves. Holding yourself to impossible standards, or the seemingly perfect lives of others can lead to dissatisfaction.
When you find these thoughts crossing your mind or feel the discomfort within yourself of not being enough, consciously pause and evaluate how you feel. Take the time to examine these thoughts and feelings, then let them go to accept your imperfections as part of the unique and wonderful factors that makes you, you.
4. Limit your use of technology
Losing yourself in the digital world may provide a temporary escape from any stress or uncertainty in real life. However, this is a band-aid solution that will not shift or solve these underlying issues. It will more often than not leave you feeling sluggish and unproductive, and more dissatisfied than ever. Instead, place time limits on your use of technology to achieve more balance throughout your day. This will give you more time to do the things that make you feel accomplished or bring you joy.
5. Do something enjoyable each day
Self-care should not just happen on special occasions – make every day an important one by consistently incorporating moments of enjoyment. It may be drawing a relaxing bath, lighting your favourite candle or reading a chapter of your book. Whatever it is that brings you a sense of enjoyment, it should be treated as much as a priority as anything else in your day.
Providing support to others
We are all faced with navigating unprecedented challenges that life has thrown at us over the past year. This makes it even more crucial to check in with those we love and provide the opportunity to listen and provide guidance if needed. Often helping others can boost your own mental wellbeing as well.
Some signs that those around you may be struggling with their mental health may include:
- Attending social events less often
- Reducing communication
- Seeming excessively tired
- Eating less than normal
- Decrease in productivity
- Increased consumption of drugs or alcohol
- Neglecting basic hygiene and self-care
- Often looking fatigued
- Significant fluctuations in eight
- Seeming more stressed or worried than usual
- Seeming sad or hopeless
Some ways in which you can provide support include:
1. Let them know you’re there
As we mentioned before, reaching out for help can be a huge hurdle for some people to overcome. Sometimes, extending the invitation can make it that little bit easier for someone who needs support. Simply sending a message and letting your friends, family members and loved ones know that you’re thinking of them and that you’re available to talk is just what they need to hear to start a much-needed conversation.
2. Random acts of kindness
If they’re not ready or willing to open up, you can demonstrate your support through actions rather than words. Acts of kindness can make the world of difference to someone’s day. You could buy them a coffee, write them a note, send them flowers or make a playlist you think they would like.
3. Listen without judgement
Providing a safe space for someone to speak their truth is essential. Although you may disagree with their thought process and may naturally default to analysing their situation, try to simply listen with an open mind and avoid diagnosing them or jumping to conclusions.
4. Spend quality time together without distractions
When you spend time together, be mindful of avoiding anything that may take your attention away from them. This may mean placing your phone on silent, mentally putting aside any stresses to do with work or life, and consciously dedicating your focus and attention on them and their situation.
5. Provide help in finding professional support
It may be that your friend or family needs professional support or more help than you can offer. Providing the names and contact details of therapists or offering recommendations for a GP may help give them the confidence and motivation to take the step towards finding the help they need. If they’re unsure or nervous perhaps you can offer to go with them to their appointment.
If you believe that someone is in crisis and in need of urgent help, contact the following organisations who can provide help.
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Simple actions can have a huge impact on the mental well-being of ourselves and those we care about. Remain conscious of your mental state, stay connected with friends and family and take care of each other. There are always steps we can take to make changes for the better.