7 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health
Posted by Guest Contributor on
Caring for our mental health is integral to our overall well-being. As we enter into October Mental Health Month, now is a good time to reflect and check-in on your mental and emotional wellness. So in the spirit of helping our global Goal Digger community, we're giving some actionable tips to help manage your mental health in 2022 and beyond.
1. Get enough sleep
This is something you can work on immediately. It may sound simple, but it's crucial as sleep impacts our daily lives. Without enough sleep, the more hypersensitive your emotions become. You're easily irritable, more anxious, and exhausted when you usually aren't.
Of course, during these unprecedented times, getting enough sleep might prove to be more complicated than usual. Put in some extra effort and create little habits to achieve the recommended 8 hours of sleep. Some positive habits could be: shutting off technology at least an hour before bed, practising mindful meditation, consuming natural ingredients that encourage sleep like lemon balm or passionflower or even keeping a night-time journal.
2. Feel your feelings and don’t beat yourself up
There are no "right" or "wrong" ways to feel. It's easy to beat yourself up and guilt yourself into invalidating your feelings. It's much harder to accept these feelings as they come, welcoming them with open arms.
It's okay to feel. It's okay that you might react to certain work-related or personal situations in ways you usually wouldn't. Instead of pressuring yourself to feel a particular way, be kind and cut yourself slack.
A great way to do this is to ask yourself: would you treat your friend or loved one the same way you treat yourself?
Something like a Gratitude Journal can put your situation in perspective and allow you to feel gratitude for the things that you already have around you.
3. Avoid thinking about the worst-case scenario
There's a term for this penned by therapists - it's called Catastrophic Thinking. It's when your brain automatically resorts to the worst-case scenario, no matter how big or small that change in your life is. Indeed, there are common ways to manage it, including tackling it head-on or doing a quick Google search to quell your theories. Still, those probably aren't the best tactics, given how everything in the world is unpredictable.
Instead of attacking it directly, we recommend more of a side-stepping approach. If you feel yourself spiralling into catastrophic thinking, interrupt its flow by redirecting your energy to something else. Whether it be ticking off your daily to-do list, making a cup of tea, watching your favourite television show or planning your goals, appointments and schedules ahead of time for a sense of security.
4. Keep active physically
When we say keep active, we don't mean doing an extensive workout to exhaustion (but if that works for you, go for it!). Keeping active can be anything from a 30-minute walk to a 10-minute light stretching session or even just vacuuming the house.
Whatever you decide to do, the goal is to boost your energy levels. According to Harvard Health studies, exercise reduces stress hormones in your body, like adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins - chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Note how you feel pre-exercise versus post-exercise, and see if you notice a change in your mood.
5. Reach out and speak out
At some point, the things we are thinking about in our head become too much; speaking out to a family member, friend, or medical professional takes that pressure away.
Connecting with others and talking about how you're feeling is essential. Chances are they may have felt a similar way at some point too.
Find someone you trust and openly speak about how you're feeling. Doing this may help others open up, showing them that they aren't the only ones experiencing deep levels of anxiety, grief and loneliness. As the famous saying goes, misery loves company.
6. Focus on what you can control, and surrender to the things you can’t
The reality is that we can't control everything. Rather than putting up a fight, perhaps the most intelligent action is to let go.
This is where creating daily habits designed to nurture your mental health comes in. Little habits like making the bed every morning, writing a to-do list, going out for a run, and giving yourself an hour of power to get shit done, are all positive actions that provide a sense of security and control.
Instead of delving into the bigger picture of what the world will be like in 6 or 12 months, take it all one day at a time. Pick your battles wisely, and don't expend energy on things that don't serve your mental health, values or purpose.
7. Braindump it all
In other words, write it all down. Put your phone on silent, find a quiet space, and wear your heart on your sleeve as you pour your feelings out with pen to paper.
When you're overwhelmed with your feelings, sometimes the best way to relieve it is by physically acknowledging it all in a journal planner, notebook or diary. This technique is especially beneficial if you're living alone because the notebook acts like an active listener.
Don't even worry too much about structure, spelling, grammar or even sounding eloquent. The goal here is to relieve as much space in your brain as possible. Think of your journal as a mini therapist - it exists to readily absorb every thought, feeling and idea you have so you have more mental space to handle whatever else comes your way next.
Focus on what lies ahead for youWith only a few months left in the year, your mental health might find comfort in looking ahead to what lies next year.
Whether honing in on your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) or trying to stay organised with your daily tasks, our new, soon-to-be-released 2023 collection of diaries and planners are here to make next year a better year.
ResourcesIf you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency department, or use any of these crisis helplines:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au(link is external)(link is external)
- SANE Australia Helpline: 1800 18 SANE (7236) or sane.org(link is external)(link is external)
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au/forums(link is external)(link is external)
- Black Dog Institute: blackdoginstitute.com.au(link is external)(link is external)
- Headspace: 1800 650 850 or headspace.org.au(link is external)(link is external)
- ReachOut: reachout.com(link is external)(link is external)
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- 13YARN: 13 92 76
- Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria (ARCVic) Helpline: 1300 269 438
Effective Wellness ToolsProgress Journal