Exercise + eat well
Physical health and mental health are fundamentally linked. Therefore, exercising regularly and eating well is one of the most effective ways of promoting and maintaining your mental wellness.
Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and to increase self-esteem, concentration, feel-good hormones and general wellbeing. The Department of Health recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. Exercising doesn’t have to mean playing sport or going to the gym – it can also take the form of a walk in the park, gardening and/or active housework.
A good diet is also very important when it comes to mental (and physical) wellbeing. Try to moderate your intake of foods that adversely affect moods, such as caffeine, alcohol, sugary snacks, foods with high levels of preservatives or hormones, fried food, trans fats and refined carbs (like white rice or white flour).
To keep track of your physical health, it’s important that you schedule regular check ups with your doctor (see more information on how often you should have these check ups here).
Get enough sleep
When it comes to mental health, getting enough sleep is really important. Sufficient sleep enables us to cope with stress, handle problems, concentrate, think positively and remember things. The right amount of sleep differs from person to person – but, generally, if you feel tired during your day you probably aren’t getting enough.
If you have trouble sleeping, here are some tips that may help:
- Try calming activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, reading or having a soothing bath before bedtime.
- Avoid big meals, alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine before bed. If you like to have a drink before bedtime, make it warm milk or chamomile tea.
- Make sure your room is comfortable for sleeping. Many people find that they sleep best when their room is dark, quiet and cool.
- Establish a routine. Try to go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning, even on weekends.
- Only use your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy. If possible, have your electronics (TV, computer etcetera) in another room.
- Aim to finish any vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.
- If you like to nap during the day, make sure that your naps aren’t more than 20 minutes long, as this will interfere with your sleeping patterns.
- Know when to see a doctor – most people experience sleep problems from time to time, but if your sleeplessness lasts for a month or more it may be due to a health condition like acid reflux, arthritis, asthma, insomnia or depression.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night (read more about recommended sleep times here).
Relax and take a breather
Everybody needs to take time to slow down and relax – in fact, it’s a major part of managing stress and enjoying life. When we take time to relax, we calm our mind and gain the ability to see our problems – and their solutions – with more clarity. Think of activities that make you feel relaxed… Art? Exercise? Meditation? Reading? Listening to music? Baking? Spending time in nature? Whatever the activities are, try to do them as often as you can (ideally a few times per week). A great way to maintain your mental health is to achieve a state of ‘flow’ – i.e. the state of being so highly involved in an enjoyable activity that you lose track of time – as frequently as possible.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Having positive relationships with others is one of the most important factors when it comes to mental wellbeing. These relationships can include partners, friends, family members, work colleagues and community members. Investing time and energy into maintaining your relationships can lead to great benefits for all involved.
One of the best ways you can maintain your mental health and boost resilience is to surround yourself with people that you can talk and relate to on a regular basis. Face-to-face social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Humans are social creatures – we need emotional connection and positive relationships with others in order to thrive.
If you don’t feel like you have a support network of people you can turn to, there are numerous ways you can build new friendships and improve your support network. In the meantime, why not focus on interacting face-to-face with acquaintances or people you encounter during the day? Even simple acts like a smile, friendly greeting or compliment to a neighbour or person you pass on the street can boost your (and their) mood.
Give back to the community
Making contributions to your community (however small) increases your sense of social wellbeing. This contribution can take the form of meaningful work, volunteering, joining community groups, helping out your neighbours or even making a conscious effort to perform regular small acts of kindness.
See a psychologist!
Seeing a psychologist isn’t a sign of weakness – in fact, it’s a sign of strength and commitment to your mental wellbeing. Seeing a psychologist will help you to solve problems, improve mental strength and clarity and cope with stress, conflict, anxiety, depression and anything else that life throws your way. Research has shown that verbalising feelings can have a significant therapeutic effect on the brain, and sometimes it’s easier to talk to a qualified therapist than it is to talk to family and friends.
You don’t need to be unhappy or distressed to see a psychologist – just like you don’t need to be in great physical pain to have a regular check-up with your doctor. It’s all about maintenance and the desire to be as healthy as you can be.
Best Psychologist Brisbane
If you are looking for the best psychologist in Brisbane, you’ve found her. Our resident registered psychologist is Danielle Copplin – you can find out all about her qualifications and approach to psychology here.