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Give your Mental Health a Workout

How often do you watch what you eat, make sure you do that extra set of stairs or do an extra gym session to keep yourself feeling great? But do you ever take the time to think about your mental health in the same way? It’s a lot easier to gauge your physical well-being but it’s just as important, if not more important, to take time out to ensure your mental health is in the best possible state. Not all of us have the time to see a psychologist or a mental health professional, but here are a few simple steps to help you improve your mental well-being each day and maybe find some coping mechanisms that help us deal with those difficult moments or interactions. By no means are these tips a quick fix, but they are a way to help us all think a little clearer, feel more connected and potentially achieve a more intrinsic sense of well-being and enjoyment out of each day. Live in the Moment We have all heard about the term ‘mindfulness’ and being ‘mindful’, but how do we make this practical in everyday life. Well, check in with your surroundings and your senses. Don’t get overwhelmed by what you did before, or need to do tomorrow – take a step back and notice the here and now. Focus on the warmth of the sun, the noise on the street or the wind in the trees. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed with deadlines and obligations, taking time to live in the moment is a remarkably simple technique to help with a sense of calm and focus. Taking even five minutes a day to become ‘present’ and aware of your inner and outer surroundings is an effective way of reducing stress and increasing self-awareness. Stay Connected The ever growing role of digital technology in our day to day lives can often leave us feeling disconnected and isolated. Make sure you are maintaining and building strong relationships with people around you who will add value to your life. Have a network of support and positive people around you. It’s amazing how one person’s kindness, a friendly ear over coffee or (spoken) words of support can brighten a day. Be Part of Something Further to the importance of connections, being a part of something constructive or social can also have a great impact on mental health. Volunteer for a great cause or charity, or be part of something that has a positive effect on the rest of society. It’s amazing how adding value to others can make us feel better about ourselves. Stress Sense Check Are you aware of how stressed you really are? It’s pretty easy to get swept up in the rapid pace of day to day life and not check in. Take a moment to become aware of how you are really feeling. Is your heart racing? Are you snapping at things that never used to bother you? Do you feel tense and anxious? Are you clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth? Many people can manage stress well and carry on without many people noticing. But carrying tension and anxiety around with you each day is like carrying those extra kilos. Be aware of what triggers your stress and look for outlets that work for you and help you to unwind. Half the battle is identifying your triggers. Once you understand the cause of your stress, look for lifestyle changes that may help – take a five minute walk for fresh air instead of stewing over a meeting outcome. Maybe yoga before work helps you achieve a sense of calm for your day? A boxing class or a lunch out with a friend are all great ways of finding an outlet to help you manage your stress levels. Any level of discomfort you feel from stress can be harmful. If lifestyle changes don’t help, call your GP and arrange to see a psychologist. We have therapeutic techniques that we work on together to help manage anxiety and stress. Be Kind Be kind, not only to those around you, but be kind to yourself! Take time out to look after yourself – eat well, get enough sleep, try not to burn the candle at both ends. There is no doubt physical and mental health is intrinsically linked. By ensuring you are looking after yourself physically, it is a lot easier to think more clearly, manage stress levels and feel an improved sense of self. In Summary Enjoying mental health means having a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like your physical health, by following a few simple steps, we can better manage when feelings sometimes overwhelm us. If you find you need more support or you are concerned about a loved one or friend, please call your GP, Lifeline 13 11 14, or call Incorporate Psychology direct for an appointment with a qualified and registered Psychologist (07) 3852 2441.

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