What can we do?

A key aspect to help develop our mental health and wellbeing is to keep learning. Embrace ongoing education and become lifelong learners.

As with all dimensions of our health, we can put things into practice that support the growth and development of our mental health. There are so many daily practices that we may take for granted and already do, without realising the benefits they have towards our mental health. It is one of the main reasons I decided to develop this blog. To support the continued education around mental health and improve the knowledge and understanding of the actions we, as individuals, can do to enhance it.

Did you know that what we do to improve physical health also helps our mental health?

There are many many practical actions that we can take to help enhance our wellbeing and things we do that improve our physical health, are also important for our mental health. Such as:

  • Ensuring we get enough physical activity – preferably being physically active each day of the week. This might be as simple as going for a walk. It does not have to be labour intensive.
  • Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet – this isn’t about weight loss diets or those times where you should seek out professional advice, just making sure you are eating well and drinking plenty of water.
  • Reducing our use of alcohol and drugs.
  • Managing screen time – making sure we take the time to switch off from technology, even if it’s for a small amount of the day. Start little and work your way up.
  • Getting enough sleep – this can be hard, but you want to try to get somewhere between 7-10 hours of sleep a night (depending on your age). It is the time when our body has the chance to rest and recuperate, helping us focus and become energised. If you are having trouble sleeping, there are many sources you can seek out for help. Headspace Australia has a good resource with some helpful information around sleep (it is focused for young people but can be a good guide for everyone).

There are also a range of other practices that can help build our self-esteem and resilience, and in turn, enhance our mental health, making it easier for us to deal with the challenging situations that occur throughout life. Over the next few months, we will look more deeply into some of the practices but for now, here is an overview of what we can do to help ourselves.

  • Develop connections and a sense of belonging
  • Embrace empathy and compassion
  • Practice gratitude, kindness and mindfulness 
  • Develop our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses
  • Create meaning and purpose
  • Understand forgiveness
  • Balance selfishness and selflessness
  • Build upon our optimism
  • Develop a support network and know when to seek out help

It is different for everyone!

Whatever you do, it needs to suit you. Every individual is different. Each of the aspects that we will be looking at are beneficial, but only if it suits your needs. There is no point forcing yourself to do any of the practices above. Forcing it could make it feel like a chore, and may turn into a hindrance instead of a benefit. Improve your knowledge and understanding first, try different activities, then decide what is the best fit for you.

Remember, being mentally healthy doesn’t mean you are happy and positive all of the time. It means that when life throws you some tough challenges, you are able to respond to those in a healthy way.

The importance of mental health.


It can be such an annoying question, however, it is the question that we should always ask when presented with any type of information. When it comes to our understanding of mental health, we should critically reflect and think over the importance for us as individuals and for each other. Ask why, so we can continue to develop our knowledge and understanding of how vital this dimension of health is and the relationship it has to the holistic approach to our health and wellbeing.

Everyone always says how important looking after our mental health is, but how often do we look into that importance? The last post looked at developing an overall understanding of the term mental health. Now we will look into the interrelationship between our mental health, and the other four dimensions.

What are the dimensions of health?

When we explore health as a holistic concept, it means we don’t just look at being healthy as merely the “absence of disease”. To help with this concept, we view our overall health as having five dimensions:

Physical, mental, social, intellectual and spiritual.

dimensions of health

They each play their own important role in maintaining our health, but it is how they interrelate and work together that forms the basis of the holistic approach.

So what does this mean?

Put simply, if one of our dimensions is not functioning how we would like, it affects the rest. Our mental health has such a pivotal role in the impact it has on the other four dimensions. In some ways, it can be seen as the most important of the dimensions due to the affect it has on all of the others.

If we start to slide towards the “red zone” of the mental health continuum (talked about in this previous post), this can have a detrimental impact on our other dimensions and depending how long we are in that area, the larger the effects. We can start to withdraw, lose motivation, fatigue easily, which all can lead to not wanting to talk to people or attend social gatherings that may have been planned. It may also result in a change in nutritional or physical activity habits we already have. There may be a reluctance to focus on things that help stimulate our minds and with the withdrawal, we can start to lose our sense of belonging and connectedness (aspects of our spiritual health).

All of this can lead to a lack of energy which brings us back to lack of motivation. It’s a cycle that can, at times, be difficult to get out of, particularly if we don’t have the know how and the skills to help.

On the flip side, when we are thriving in a dimension, the others thrive as well.

Our mind is such an amazing and beautiful thing……but, it can also be such an asshole.

This is where the benefits of enhancing our mental health come into play.

There are so many different benefits to having a positive mental health and being in the healthy functioning section of the continuum. Below are just a few that relate directly to the other dimensions of health. It is why gaining the skills and knowledge to support and enhance our mental health is so important in today’s society.

Improved moods.

Clearer thinking.

A greater sense of calm or inner peace.

Increased self-esteem.

Improvements in relationships.

Sharper memory.

Better sleep.

Increased energy.

Stronger resilience.

a selection of the benefits of having positive mental health

Understanding mental health.

There are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to the term “mental health”. When we hear and see this term, many in society start to associate it with “suffering” (which is not a good term to use around mental health anyway) or with illness. With a term that we use every day, we need to develop an understanding around what it actually means.

Why is developing this understanding so important? 

Just like with our physical health, there are times we will have mental ill-health (which is a term that encompasses both mental illness – a diagnosed disorder AND mental health problems – those that may not meet the criteria for an official diagnosis). This is the aspect of mental health that as a society, we tend to associate with whenever we discuss this topic.

This is also not something that is isolated to one section of the world.

Globally, it is estimated that just over 1 in 10 people live with a mental illness. 

(Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2020) – “Mental Health”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health’ [Online Resource])

If you’re interested to see the data around the global prevalence of mental health head to this webpage: https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

The more that we, as individuals, develop our understanding around the concept of what mental health actually is, the more we are able to support ourselves and others in enhancing it. On top of this, we can educate others and start to remove the stigma that hovers around mental health problems and mental illnesses. 

So let’s get to it! What actually is mental health?

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is: 

“a state of well-being in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.”

As with many definitions of health this one also looks at the positives around our mental health, not what is going wrong. It is about the way we think, feel and develop relationships – not just about developing an illness. Just because an individual doesn’t have a mental-illness, does not mean they are doing “well” mentally. On the flip side, you could also have a diagnosed mental illness and be functioning well in many aspects of your life.

When we look at our mental health, we can use a continuum like the one below.

The further into the green zone (our positive and healthy functioning zone), the “healthier” we are, and the longer we stay in the red zone, we increase our risk of developing a mental illness.

We are, however, constantly moving along the continuum. Our mental health is ever changing (dynamic), as well as dependent on what is happening in our lives at a particular point in time (relative). We are never going to be able to stay in the green zone all of the time, that in itself would be draining (and quite unrealistic). Also, being in the green zone, doesn’t mean that we are always happy and positive, it means that we are able to be functioning and dealing with aspects in an appropriate and healthy way. There are many factors that impact how we are coping throughout our days/weeks/years and influence where we sit on the continuum. These factors that can include; an argument with a friend or family member, the loss of a job, getting sick, and grief.

What we need to be able to do when something impacts our mental health, is move ourselves back towards the green zone, to have that positive and healthy functioning aspect return. Individuals who are more resilient, and have a higher self-esteem and self-worth find it easier to get back into the green. They are more readily able to “bounce back” and self manage coping strategies to help deal with the issues that life can throw at us. 

But all is not lost. There are many different strategies that can help develop our resiliency and build upon our self-esteem. Finding those strategies that best suit us as an individual is one step towards enhancing our own mental health.

In future blog posts, we will look at many different strategies and practices that can be put into place to not only support our mental health, but enhance our growth in this area.

Introducing You Matter Too

You Matter Too is an online space that has been developed to help enhance mental health and build resilience. There are many spaces that focus on what society know as mental health issues or illnesses (depression, anxiety, personality disorders etc) but I wanted to create a place where people could develop their knowledge and understanding around a holistic view of mental health, that it is something we can work on like we would do our physical health.

Each month there will be an update focusing on enhancing our mental health and building resilience. It will look at an educative, strength-based approach to this and will cover areas such as:

  • understanding mental health
  • gratitude
  • mindfulness
  • belonging
  • meaning & purpose
  • support networks
  • impact of social media

You Matter Too also has an Instagram account that will supplement the information within this blog and provide snippets around benefits and daily practices to help in enhancing our mental health.