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.