October marks mental health month in Australia, an initiative birthed by the Mental Health Foundation Australia with this year’s theme being ‘Building Resilience: Communities and Connections’. The initiative has the express aim of shining a spotlight on addressing our own mental health struggles and promoting a better mindset.
Addressing our mental health is crucial, particularly In an age where we’re continuously connected to devices, bombarded with negative news and the burdens of rising living costs. It’s important to give our minds a break, allow ourselves to recharge and find productive ways to deal with stress or anxiety. Last month we had R U Okay? Day which prompted us to check in on the wellbeing of others, this time we need to focus on our own.
No matter where we are in life, whatever our circumstances are, we all have our own battles, our own struggles, our own daily anxieties and sometimes these can compound. That’s why it’s important to find ways in which we can deal with these challenges and find strategies that can improve our own mental health.
Tips for Better Mental Health
One of the most important things we can do for our minds is to move our bodies. Exercise has the amazing power to increase endorphin and oxygen levels in your body, boosting focus and improving productivity. Whether it’s weight lifting or some form of cardio, exercise isn’t just about the aesthetics (looking good). Training regularly teaches a person discipline and the attitude of pushing beyond their limits, particulary important for building mental resilience.
There are a multitude of benefits that come with having cold showers every day, particularly in the morning. Having a cold shower after you wake up shocks your system (like an instant caffeine hit) and gets the dopamine levels rising in your body. For those suffering anxiety and depression, cold showers have the ability to greatly decrease symptoms by boosting endorphins.
One of the most undervalued techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety is deep controlled breathing. The reason it’s so effective is because as you take deep, heavy breaths, you’re telling the sympathetic nervous system to quiet down. This is the part of the nervous system that provides that fight or flight response, usually triggered by stressful situations. So, by partaking in deep breathing you’re controlling your stress/anxiety levels instead of them controlling you.
Eating healthy foods
Having a diet rich in nutrient dense foods and high in vitamins, will keep your energy levels elevated and your mood balanced. It also strengthens your immune system and can regulate cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Get enough sleep
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Adequate sleep gives your mind the opportunity to recharge, it sharpens decision making and regulates your mood. This allows you to think rationally and more calmly. Your mental health suffers when you’re not sleeping enough or your sleep patterns are irregular. It can also prevent you from having the energy to partake in other activities such as exercising, leading to an even worse mood.
Set aside time for leisurely activities
Whatever your method of decompressing is, whether it’s watching tv, reading, hiking, going to the movies or playing video games, make sure you’re giving yourself a break from reality and time to just chill out. You’re more likely to become stressed or anxious and react poorly in stressful situations if you’re burning yourself out.
Social Media Detox
Sometimes, we fail to realise just how much damage our use of social media and technology has had on us. Our attention spans are shortened due to short videos, scrolling from site to site and our sense of worth is based on likes. That’s why it’s important to put the phone down for a bit and have a break. Go outside for a walk, read a book, swim in the ocean. The majority of human existence never had screens and it’s why we’re seeing a rise in mental health issues today.
Whatever works for you in benefiting your mental health, make that a priority, this month and every month going forward.
Happy Mental Health Month from all of us at FOXI!
Remember to be kind to yourself and those around you.
FOXI Invest Content Writer
Learn more about Mental Health Month at: https://www.mhfa.org.au/cms/national-mental-health-month-2022