If taking care of your mental health is a goal for you in 2019, it’s important to create a plan of how you will get there. One way to do this is by being mindful of behaviours or habits that might contribute to stress, anxiety or depression. For many people, identifying which areas to change can be hard. This is why we’ve come up with 5 common areas where a change in mindset or behaviour can really make a difference.
Keep reading to learn our top tips for improving your mental health…
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Put yourself first
Before you rule this out for fear of being selfish, allow us to explain. When it comes to your mental health, sometimes you simply need to put your needs ahead of others. This could mean saying no to helping a friend if you need some down time. Or perhaps skipping out on that birthday party because you simply don’t feel up to it.
Putting yourself first isn’t anything to feel guilty about. In order to live happy, healthy lives, we need to learn to rest and care for ourselves. Identifying when you might need some self-care time, or when situations might not be best for your mental health, is a great step towards happiness. Try doing this when you feel it will benefit you and be mindful of whether it makes a difference!
Seek professional help
Seeking professional mental health help can be a tough decision to make. However, if you’ve been struggling with mental illness such as anxiety, depression or addiction, it can really be a game changer.
Psychologists don’t simply tell you what to do. These professionals are trained to help people manage and overcome mental health conditions. This means teaching you realistic, effective techniques that will assist you when dealing with the problems you face. This could include ways to calm anxious thoughts, or strategies to overcome those demotivating ‘down’ days that often come along with depressive episodes.
Even better, in Australia, we’re lucky to have access to subsidised psychologist sessions. This makes seeing a psychologist much more affordable. You can read our blog on how to get a Mental Health Treatment Plan to learn more about the subsidy.
You can also use Ok To Talk’s free online service to find a psychologist suited to your location, needs and budget in just a matter of minutes!
Speak to someone you trust
Carrying the weight of mental illness all on your own can be tough. And while admitting how you’re feeling might be scary, it can really make a difference. Talking to someone you trust – such as a friend, family member, teacher or doctor – is a great first step.
When we keep everything bottled up inside, our emotions can begin to feel overwhelming. Saying how we’re feeling out loud can help us feel better in a number of ways. First of all, the act of verbally explaining your thoughts and emotions can help you to understand them in new ways. Second, confiding in others can help you feel less alone, because you know you have someone to turn to when you need it. So, the next time you are feeling down or on edge, try speaking to someone you trust and see how you feel afterwards!
Speak to yourself differently
The way you think and speak about yourself has a huge effect on your mental health. If you’re always putting yourself down, it can impact your overall mood and perspective. This includes how you talk to yourself in your own head, too! Whether it’s critical thoughts about your looks, weight, job,school performance or something else entirely, it’s important to treat yourself with love and kindness.
A great way to do this is to ask yourself, “would I treat my friend this way?” The truth is that we don’t criticise or judge our friends, because we never want to make them feel bad. We see their amazing qualities for what they are and are understanding and compassionate when they’re going through a tough time.
So, instead of thinking something like “I did so badly on that test, I’m so stupid”, ask yourself “what would I say to my friend?”. The answer is probably something along the lines of, “you tried your hardest and you’ll do better next time!” As you begin to use positive, kind words towards yourself, you might notice a difference in your overall mood.
You’ve probably heard that exercise can positively impact your mental health. But what if you’re not someone who loves the gym or going for a run? Well, we have good news for you! Studies have shown that doing just 1.5-2hrs of exercise each week can have great effects on your mental health. And you don’t even need to do it all at once. As long as you do this amount of exercise in the week, you will reap the benefits.
If you’re someone who doesn’t love exercise, try mixing up the way you get active in 2019. Ask a friend if they’d like to walk to your local café instead of drive. Invest in a bike and use it to make short trips here and there. You can even make a habit of taking your dog out for a walk first thing in the morning or before it gets dark at night – two great ways to start and end your day! Whatever way works for you is the perfect way to get active!