October is Mental Health Month. An initiative that sets out to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing, supporting community events and promoting activities and ideas that can have a positive impact on our daily lives and the lives of others. Each year, Mental Health Month ties everything together with a specific theme. This year’s theme is “Share the Journey”.
Glenn Baird, Head of Mental Health for leading specialist life insurer, TAL, has offered five evidence-based tips to help with mental health which are in line with new research by the New Economics Foundation in the UK.
1. Stay active
Exercise can lift our mood, reduce anxiety levels and assist in getting a better night’s sleep. It’s well known that doing exercise releases positive endorphins, so try to make a conscious effort to be active in some way. There are plenty of ways we can get up and be active. With spring in full swing, take advantage of the mild weather and try walking to and from work if you can, or consider riding a bicycle in, if you have one. Exercising with a group of friends can motivate you to commit to a routine and is a great way to deepen your relationships, which can also be good for your mental wellbeing.
2. Connect socially
Building social connections can help increase our resilience and improve our day-to-day mood. Social interaction is vital to every aspect of our health. Not only does it improve our mental and emotional stability, it also helps our physical health. Be sure to make time for family and friends, have lunch with a colleague away from your desk, catch up for a coffee with a friend or have a barbeque at the park with your family when you can.
3. Give back
Participation in community life can improve our self-esteem, sense of purpose and sense of accomplishment. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, volunteering your time in something you are passionate about, or participating in a random act of kindness. These are often great ways to create feelings of satisfaction, fulfilment and worth.
4. Continue learning
Learning new activities can be a great way to improve our confidence and resilience in an empowering way. Rediscover an old hobby or start a new one you’ve been meaning to try. You could also try to set a measurable goal to achieve something that excites you. Immerse yourself in these learning openings as it can help boost your mood and outlook.
5. Take notice and be present
Practising mindfulness helps regulate our emotions, improve sleep and reduce stress levels. Take notice of your senses, whether you’re going for a walk, eating lunch or talking to friends. Make sure you take some “me time”, where you can just focus on yourself, meditate or write a gratitude list. Be aware of the world around you and how it is making you feel and take note of what’s running through your mind to help minimise negative thoughts and worries.
Need help? Ask.
There’s many different options and services available that can offer advice, support and information. You’re never alone.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
Visit http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/ for more information on Mental Health Month