Each year, R U OK Day is a great reminder of how essential it is to check in on the mental health of your loved ones, and yourself. Here we share some self-care tips to help improve your mental wellbeing.
Straight out of the gate, we are going to say that the advice in this feature is not meant to replace medical advice or intended to act as a cure all to anxiety, depression or any other forms of mental health issues.
What we would like to suggest are a few little things that you can implement in your daily life to help lighten your load and ease the stress that may bring you down from time to time.
If there’s anything we do know, it is that self-care goes a long way in making us feel better. We hope you find this helpful, but please remember if at any time life becomes even the slightest bit too hard to bear, book in to see your GP or mental health professional and seek immediate advice. You are too precious not to do this. Remember, everyone has a gift that will make the world more special.
Happiness is Always a Work in Progress
Nobody in life is happy one hundred percent of the time. Not the mega wealthy, the uber beautiful or the person with the seemingly dream job/dream family/dream life. We all have moments when we are down and no one’s life is perfect. As with any relationship in life, our relationship with happiness requires effort and input from ourselves. What does this mean? Quite simply, it means putting into action the things that you know lighten your load, make you uplifted and prevent you from being down in the dumps. Conversely, it also means shutting down behavior that you know brings you down or removing people from your life that do the same. Here are a few suggestions that might help lift your mood and lighten your load.
Start Each Day with Intention You don’t need to set big goals, meeting small ones can lead to big steps in improving your state of mind. It can be as simple as starting your day with positive intentions to help set the tone for the day ahead. It might be aiming to do five minutes of stretching when you get out of bed, playing a short meditation app, or writing in a gratitude journal, listing the things you are grateful for from yesterday and what you might like to set out to do that day. Being mindful of how we react and respond to the world and people around us. Intent gives us purpose and purpose helps us kick goals, which all lead to satisfaction – no matter how small it might be to begin with.
Just Change One Small Thing If you are feeling unhappy with your life and you’re not sure what to do or where to start, why not begin by changing one small thing that is easy to do. This may not feel like much, but it can often be the catalyst for bigger changes. Conquering one small change can give you the confidence to tackle even bigger challenges down the road.
Make Your Mornings Fun
There aren’t many people who truly enjoy getting out of bed, but it sure does become easier if you incentivise yourself to do so. This might mean catching up on that quick half hour TV show you love, dancing around the living room to your favourite song, walking to a wonderful park with your dog, or simply meditating and planning a list of fun things you can do throughout the day in between work and other chores.
Remember – You Don’t Need to Adult All the Time
We all know being an adult is often overrated, so take time in each day to throw that out the window. Get a set of crayons or charcoals and a sketch pad and draw to your heart’s content. It doesn’t matter if it’s just stick figures or a masterpiece to rival Monet. Being creative taps into your inner child, where you were carefree and had fewer responsibilities. It really does help combat stress and the blues that we all become plagued with at times. For the same reason, get on a bike and ride like the wind, or go ice skating, or simply eat a (vegan) ice cream that you love. It’s always important to remember that child-like sense of joy and wonder and draw on it regularly.
Reduce Screen Time
With computers, smart phones, social media and streaming content available at the touch of a button, as a society we are more connected than we have ever been before, but it’s important to remember that this can also be a way of not connecting with ourselves and the people around us. Escapism is fun and can be a great way to decompress from your day, but it’s just as important to step away from your devices and find the time to be present, mindful and active in the world around you.
Monitor Your Inner Dialogue
Our minds have millions of thoughts each day and our bodies react to all of them. Catch yourself each time you have negative thoughts, feelings of guilt and shame, or playing the should-have, would-have, could-have game. Instead, accept the moment you are in and know that this too shall pass. Replace the negative self-talk with love, acceptance and positivity. Remind yourself that you wouldn’t talk to a friend that way, and nor should you do so to yourself.
Enjoy Restful, Quality Sleep It’s impossible to be sleep deprived and feeling on top of your game. Chronic fatigue quite
simply counteracts happiness. With this in mind, try going to bed as early as possible and
enjoy at least eight hours of quality sleep every night. Avoid stimulants before bed like too
much food, alcohol or even an action or drama movie. Create a sanctuary in your bedroom that makes you feel safe, calm and relaxed. Have low
lighting, use a diffuser to fill the air with beautifully relaxing essential oils, invest in quality
bed linen and have blackout curtains to keep the light out. A warm bath with magnesium
salts before bed will further help you relax, and if all else fails, a chamomile tea or herbal
supplement like valerian will induce restful feelings.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
One of the fantastic things about taking up yoga and meditation is that you can practice
this anywhere at any time. Both practices allow us to calm the mind, centre ourselves and
use mindful breathing techniques to help us deal with stressful situations. Be open to
receiving and putting something positive to the universe for others, as well as yourself. Set your intention for the day to be as gentle and compassionate with both yourself and other people, be positive with your conversation and interaction with others, from the barista who makes your coffee to the person who delivers your post. Remember, everyone you meet is experiencing an inner struggle or turmoil, and that small act of compassion may change their entire day, as well as yours!
Ask for Help and Help Others
There is stigma attached to mental health issues and some people feel embarrassed to admit that they are not coping in life. Remember most people go through rough patches at some stage in their lives so it’s important to understand that you are not alone, even if you feel like you are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting your hand up and asking for help. Having the ability
to talk about your problems can help you workshop through them and gives people permission to share their own personal journey. Never be afraid to be vulnerable.
If you have a friend or a colleague who looks like they are having a hard time don’t be afraid to ask, ‘are you OK?’
One of the greatest gifts is the gift of giving or helping others. One of the important steps in programs like A.A is becoming a sponsor to someone new in the program. For the sponsor this allows you to see how far you have come in your own journey and for the person being sponsored it not only gives support, but allows them to see what they too can achieve if they stick to the program.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing feelings of self-harm, please contact the following organisations immediately for free of charge help and counselling:
Beyond Blue: beyondblue.com.au 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: lifeline.org 13 11 14
Griefline: griefline.org.au 1300 845 745
Kids Help Line: kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800
Suicide Call Back Service: suicidecallbackservice.org.au 1300 659 467