One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is to take care of our mental health. Studies estimate that 1 in every 7 Australians will experience depression at some point in their life, but not each individual will seek help. Sometimes taking care of our mental health seems easier said than done, especially when we’re busy, or when we find ourselves suffering from mental health issues; here are ten ways to care for your mental health, even when it seems difficult.
1. Take care of yourself first
It is much easier to take care of yourself before you find yourself anxious, depressed, or experiencing other mental health issues. The idea of self-love (or self care) is quite popular right now, but for a good reason! If you spend time focusing on yourself and seeking out enjoyment, your stress levels will decrease. This might mean gardening, meditating, reading a good book, getting a pedicure, or simply sitting outside with a glass of lemonade after a long week. Consider seeking out a new hobby. Always wanted to write songs? Take our singing and songwriting course, and spend time doing something you love.
If possible, each day, perform a small act of self-love to remind yourself you are valuable.
2. Talk about your feelings
Instead of keeping things bottled up inside, communicate how you are feeling. This may mean with a partner, a friend, or even a psychologist. This can help you cope with a problem you’re experiencing, rather than just internalizing it.
If you find that you enjoy speaking with your psychologist and are interested in a career in psychology, you can study psychology online with our psychology courses.
3. Keep active
How many times have you dreaded putting on your exercise clothes, only to feel like a new person thirty minutes later, once you’ve worked out? There’s a reason for that! Endorphins course through your body after raising your heart rate, and help you feel better about life in general. Aim for thirty minutes of exercise a day, even if it’s as simple as walking through nature to clear your mind.
4. Care for others
Caring for others can be rewarding in and of itself. How many times have you done something kind for someone else, and felt a sense of altruistic high? Putting time towards caring for others can reduce stress, release endorphins, (those feel-good hormones) and put your own difficulties or issues into perspective.
Consider donating time to work with a group of people that need your help; there are hundreds of ways you can do this, so think outside the box. Help coach a children’s sport for free, or read books to the elderly once a month.
Instead of sitting behind your television, make a phone call to a friend. The Mayo Clinic notes that socialising “helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer.” Even a five or ten minute chat with a friend can help you care for your mental health.
6. Ask for help
Nobody is a hero all the time. Instead of feeling like you need to be the one to care for others and yourself, ask for help. You may want to seek out a counselor or therapist, or you may simply need to ask loved ones to help you with some duties you can’t do easily yourself.
Another option to consider is finding a support group to help you make changes in your life. There are many low-cost or free resources to consider, such as the Better Access program, so don’t be ashamed to take advantage of it. Seeking help for mental health issues should not make you feel guilty, but empowered.
7. Make big changes in your life
If you are repeatedly experiencing the same mental health problems, they may very well be due to stress. When your job or career causes excess stress, it may be time to consider making big changes in your life. Brainstorm what you can change. Do you need to relocate to a different environment? Or maybe you feel like you’re in a dead-end job and need to completely change your career pathway.
Changing careers doesn’t need to be stressful; instead, you should feel inspired and energized at the idea of a new pathway if the current one you’re in doesn’t provide fulfillment. Did you know that studies show that jobs that are most fulfilling are those in which you care for people? From careers in psychology to teaching children, there are multiple ways to find fulfillment and reduce your stress to care for your mental health.
Unsure if you want to make a huge change? Consider enrolling in a self-paced 15-week course to obtain your Counselling Pathway Certificate. This will open up multiple opportunities, all from the comfort of your home as you study psychology online. Having a certificate in mental health provides multiple opportunities to make big changes in your life.
Getting the right education and understanding the details of a career or process are essential to making the right change in your life. Before diving into a new career, consider looking into getting your Counselling Pathway Certificate or a Certificate in Counselling and Psychology.
8. Get outside
Studies show that spending time in nature reduces stress and increases feelings of well-being. If you want, combine spending time outside with getting exercise, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your mood while you care for your mental health. You don’t need to spend hours each day outside but aim for 10-to-15 minutes in nature if possible. Walk through a local park, or sit outside in your garden area.
9. Reduce your alcohol consumption.
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, you might be turning to alcohol to self medicate. Ideally, limit your alcohol consumption to less than 10 drinks a week, and no more than 4 in one given night. Self-medicating with alcohol can actually increase your level of depression and anxiety.
10. Get enough sleep.
We’ve all had rough days after a severe lack of sleep. It affects our moods and even our physical health. To make sure you are taking care of your mental health, aim to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep regulates chemicals in our brains to help manage our moods and emotions, and oversleeping can be just as detrimental as undersleeping. If you find that you’re sleeping too little and suffering from symptoms of depression, increase how much you are sleeping to see if this improves your mental state.
Your mental health should not be taken for granted. Make sure to spend time caring for your mental health so that you can continue to help yourself, and others around you.