Stop what you’re doing, just for a second. It’s time for a quick mental health check.
These days we’re allso caught up being busy, our mental health often takes a backseat to all the things that must be done now, now, now! Argh. Life in the digital age can be exhausting, and unfortunately mental health issues still seem to have a weird stigma attached to them, despite the fact that approximately 3 million Australians are living with depression.
Identifying the factors which impact our mental wellbeing is something we can all personally benefit from, and in turn we can learn to help others. So, what’s the deal? What can we do in the short term to improve our everyday lives?
- Sleep. Sounds easy enough, right? Yet so many of us are ignoring this very basic human need. A solid night’s sleep helps to repair and restore your weary brain, and getting enough of it is a simple (and comfortable) way to alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Eat healthy food. Hear me out – I’m definitely not saying all snacks are evil, but rather that poor nutrition has been linked to adverse side effects on your poor old brain. So, go on, give it a boost with some healthy eats.
- Exercise. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a GP at this point… but again, studies show that exercise (or lack thereof) can directly impact your mental state. Keeping active releases all the happy endorphins, and drastically reduces stress.
- Build relationships. Having a strong support network of people you trust is a great way to improve your mental health. After all, it’s a lot harder to be unhappy when you’re surrounded by people you care about, and who care about you in return.
- Work hard, preferably at something you enjoy. It’s a well‐known fact that in order to get through life you’re going to need to work. And the impact your work has on your mental health is huge! Even if you’re stuck in a job you hate (because, money), you can at least try to focus on a side project that gives you a sense of purpose and enjoyment.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Feeling down? Alcohol (or any drug) is not your friend, even though it may seem like it at the time. Sorry guys.
Yes it’s true, working towards improving your wellbeing takes time, but is definitely worth the effort. You’ll gain a better understanding of your own life triggers, and in turn be better equipped to help others who may be struggling. Which brings me to my next point, or rather, question – what are the warning signs to indicate that someone might need help, and how can you offer that help without being too invasive?
There are so many resources available to us for managing mental health, but typically when we’re feeling depressed or anxious we’re unlikely to seek help on our own. We might need a little push, or simply to have someone to sit and listen. The R U OK website provides information on how to approach someone who is exhibiting signs of personal stress or mental health issues, which can include increased agitation and aggressiveness, or withdrawal from social activities. If you notice someone behaving outside of the norm, the tools provided on this site can be really helpful in managing the situation appropriately.
Of course, not all mental health problems can be solved by reading a blog post (hey, I tried!) or a quick run on the treadmill, but fear not – there are many professionals out there who are equipped to deal with the bigger issues. If you’re concerned about yourself or those close to you, and aren’t sure who to turn to, these awesome Aussie organisations are always ready to help:
- Beyond Blue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/)
- Black Dog Institute (https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/)
- Lifeline (https://www.lifeline.org.au/)
- Sane Australia (https://www.sane.org/)
There are also a number of apps available for download that can help to ease day‐to‐day stress, such as Smiling Mind and Headspace. These are particularly useful if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a quick reset. The most important thing to remember is that mental health issues will affect each and every one of us at some point in our lives, and that it’s OK to ask for help, as well as to offer it.
This post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.
Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and grammar pest.