With October being National Mental Health Month, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for the Spot Family to share our favourite tips to improve mental wellbeing.
Prioritising your health — particularly your mental health — isn’t always easy. When life gets busy, one of the first things that often falls by the wayside is how well we take care of ourselves. And if we have dependents to care for, it can become even harder.
So, how can you take action to kickstart your mental health, even when you don’t feel like it or don’t have all the time in the world?
Keep reading for our top 10 tips on ways you can take charge of your mental health this month and get back on track towards feeling your best!
1) Check In On Your Sleep Practices
First and foremost, let’s check in on your sleep practices (or sleep hygiene, as it’s commonly known).
If you’re not sleeping well, many things could be to blame, including snoring or sleep-disordered breathing. Lack of good quality sleep can then impact your day-to-day functioning, like your ability to focus and retain information.
Sleep hygiene encompasses everything from your nighttime routine, what time to go to sleep and wake up (and whether it’s consistent!), and how much daylight you get, to the feeling of your sheets, pillow, and mattress, and how much light streams into your room at night.
Take stock of what your current sleep practices look like and how you could adjust them to help your body wind down at night.
2) Get Moving For Mental Health
We know, we know — you’ve heard it all before! But the reality is, your mental health can be improved dramatically by moving your body each day.
You might be picturing an intense workout or long bike ride, but you don’t have to go all out with exercise to make a difference to your mindset.
Something as simple as a stroll around the block, a quick stretching session, or dancing around to a song or two can really shift your mood when you’re not feeling the best.
3) Reassess The Content You Consume
In our current climate, particularly with lockdowns across the country, we’re consuming more content than ever before. We’re scrolling on our phones and Googling articles to read all the time, because a lot of us don’t have much else to do sometimes!
So it’s crucial that, from time to time, you take a step back to reassess the content you’re consuming. You might find that you’re following accounts on social media that aren’t the best for your mental health or reading too much news for your own good (guilty!).
We asked our Spot Family for some suggestions on their favourite Instagram accounts to follow that keep the vibes positive on our feeds – check them out below!
- Speechie Annie loves @thedogist for heart-warming dog-related stories
- Marketing & Comms queen Verity recommends @goodnews_movement for feel-good news stories from around the world
- Speechie Bianca follows @isthisyourclient for a laugh about crazy haircuts seen in public
- Speechie Cass thinks @siblingsordating is a great one to lighten your mood
- And Speechie Sabrina recommends @greatgramsofgary for all our cat lovers out there!
4) Switch Off The Screens!
In a similar vein to being more mindful about the content you’re consuming, it’s also a good idea to have a little ‘social media detox’ from time to time.
If the thought of disconnecting from your phone or computer for an evening (or a whole day, if you’re game!) makes you feel anxious, that’s an indicator that you need to take time away from your devices even more.
Start small — put your phone in another room for an hour or two while you focus on something else, eventually working your way up to being off social media for a night.
We’ll admit it — this isn’t an easy one! But after the anxiety settles, you might find that a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Give it a go!
5) Journal It Out
When in doubt, journal it out!
This doesn’t have to be a structured, prize-winning piece of writing by any means — this is simply a way for you to take all the thoughts swirling around in your brain and put them in a safe space, so you can (hopefully) stop focusing on them so much.
Not a fan of writing? Recording a voice memo or video on your phone or laptop is an easy way to ‘vent’ and get those thoughts out just as effectively. Sometimes, saying things out loud is a helpful way of sorting through your feelings. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!
6) Spend Time In Nature
We don’t know about you, but sometimes the thought of going outside feels like SO much effort. Can you relate? We’d have to stand up, put on real clothes that don’t look like pyjamas, put on shoes, walk out the front door — it’s a lot!
But, we can also vouch for the fact that we pretty much ALWAYS feel better when we choose to take a break and head outdoors to spend time in nature.
Whether it’s strolling through the park or just hanging out in your backyard for 10 to 15 minutes, getting fresh air, watching the clouds drift by, or stopping to smell the flowers (literally!) can change your whole mood within minutes.
You could even take this a step further and indulge in the practice of ‘grounding’, which is spending time outdoors, on the grass, in bare feet. This is reportedly a great way to connect with the earth and help you gain some perspective when things feel overwhelming.
Can’t get outside? Try changing up your environment by moving to a different room. This change of space can help your brain reset and might even help your productivity if you’re trying to get a pressing task done.
7) Engage In An Activity You Love
Take a leaf out of Speechie Lyndal’s book and engage in an activity you love (clearly Lyndal is a footy fan!).
We can hear some of you saying, “But I don’t have time!”, and to that we say, “Make the time”. Nothing is more important than your mental health, so making the time to do things you enjoy is non-negotiable!
If it’s been so long since you’ve had fun that you don’t even remember what you enjoy anymore, check out this list to see what piques your interest and go from there.
8) Indulge In Some Self-Care
While all of these suggestions could be considered self-care, this tip is focused on taking some time out to look after yourself in a way that feels indulgent.
Take a long bath, get a pedicure (or DIY if you can’t visit a salon), go for a massage, read that book that’s been on your shelf for months, listen to a podcast, take a nap — anything you want!
This doesn’t have to be an everyday thing (and in fact, we recommend indulging only every so often, to keep it feeling special when you do). Just set aside some ‘me time’ and see how you feel (and no, you’re definitely NOT selfish for doing this!).
9) Talk To A Friend, Just For Fun
When was the last time you called up a friend or loved one just to chat? While the pandemic has made it hard to catch up in person, it’s still possible to have a virtual get-together through Zoom or FaceTime.
Schedule a call — either video or audio — with a friend or group of friends, just because! Chat about anything and everything, serious or otherwise. This brings us to our final point…
10) Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up
Whether you’re struggling or you know someone who might be, it’s okay to speak up about mental health.
In fact, it’s much more common than you might believe to experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues — it’s estimated that 3 million Aussies are currently living with mental health issues. If you’re one of them, it’s important to know you’re not alone.
We know that sharing your thoughts, feelings, or concerns with someone you trust can feel incredibly daunting. You might be afraid of how they’ll react, nervous about feeling weak or silly, or just not sure how to begin.
If you’re unsure of how to start this difficult conversation with someone, Beyond Blue has got you covered.
Visit this link for a detailed description of ways to bring up mental health issues with a loved one you feel may be struggling, or head to this page if you’re looking for suggestions for discussing your own mental health with trusted people in your life.
Mental Health Is Health!
Remember — mental health is health! It’s just as important as physical health when it comes to your overall well-being, so it’s crucial that you make an effort to look after your mindset.
From adjusting your sleep practices and moving your body, to indulging in self-care or chatting with friends, there are so many ways you can put yourself first and take control of your mental health.
Be sure to follow us @spot.family on Instagram for more positive content and tips for holistic well-being!