World Mental Health Day – 10 October 2020 

We are celebrating World Mental Health day, during one of the craziest years due to COVID-19, as a reminder to each and every one of us to take some time out to look after ourselves – Be active, eat well and get enough sleep. 

The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. 

What you can do to look after your mental health:  

1. Exercise 

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. When you exercise your body releases endorphins and serotonin feel good chemicalsAerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain. Why not try a Yoga or Zumba class? Move your body in different ways either for a good stretch or some fun in Zumba. 

2. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables  

Aim to eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet. You could try introducing an extra serve of vegetables to your meals or reducing processed and fast foods. Following a healthy diet means your brain will have the right balance of nutrients to work at its best. It will also improve your energy levels, sleep patterns and general health, leaving you fresh and ready to handle life’s day to day challenges. 

3. Get enough sleep  

Sleep gives your brain important ‘down time’ to process and store the information it receives during the day. Not getting enough sleep affects your mood and ability to concentrate, and can also lead to anxiety and depression. 

4. Embrace Nature  

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world – why not embrace it and get outdoors? Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve your mood and reduce stress levels. More time outdoors also means that you’ll get more exposure to the sun. Sun exposure helps produce mood-stabilising chemicals like serotonin and also gives your vitamin D levels a boost, which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. Instead of a treadmill – why not run around the track or along the Broadwater? 

5. Connect with others 

Feeling connected to people, groups, places and culture plays an important part in your mental wellbeing. Fostering stronger relationships and connections to your community will also strengthen your social networks for the times you might need extra support. Instead of working out alone – why not try small group training or a class where you can meet new like-minded friends?  

6. Put on some good tunes and have a dance 

Whether you’re in your lounge room, the car or at the gym – put some good tunes on and get singing / dancing! Loosen up your body up and release tension and anxiety through shaking your booty to a good track. Don’t worry about what anyone around you is thinking – this is your 5 minutes to get the good vibes happening! 

7. Seek help 

It might be hard but asking for help when you need it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you’re experiencing frequent or excessive worry, poor concentration, specific fears or phobiasirritability, sleeping difficulties, general restlessness, upset stomach, sweating and difficulty breathing or  behavioural changes such as procrastination, avoidance, difficulty making decisions and social withdrawal, please see your doctor to discuss these issues. If you’re feeling suicidal, seek immediate help.  

 

 

References: 

Sharma, A. MaDaan, V & Petty, P. (2006). Exercise for Mental Health. Doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a 

World Health Organisation. World Mental Health Day 2020. https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/world-mental-health-day-2020 

Queensland Government. Your Mental Wellbeing. 2020. https://mentalwellbeing.initiatives.qld.gov.au