Your mental health is influenced by many factors, some of which are out of your control. However, there are habits that can help fill up your tank for when life's unexpected challenges come your way.
Strong relationships with mates, family members, pets, neighbours, colleagues and the wider community are essential for mental wellbeing, as they provide support, security and a sense of purpose. Spend time with loved ones or try new a new hobby, club, sport or volunteer work.
Find someone you can talk to during a tough time and share what you’re going through. Reach out to them first to ask how they’re doing, and actively listen. By doing this, they’re more likely to reciprocate. Ask for help when you need it.
Getting enough quality sleep can improve mood, concentration and performance. However, sleep problems can be both a cause and consequence of mental health problems. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, put away screens well before bedtime, avoid caffeine later in the day, and get some natural light in the morning.
Exercise can improve your mood and emotional wellbeing, reduce your risk of developing mental illness and help treat a range of mental health conditions. Start with 30 minutes of movement each day, which could be a walk, work in the garden or kicking a footy with the kids.
Eating a balanced diet can improve mood, energy, physical and mental health. Serving up vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, olive oil and fish, while limiting junk food and added sugar, may help prevent and treat depression.
Whether it’s volunteering to walk rescue dogs, joining local clean-ups, or just asking your neighbours if there’s anything they need a hand with — giving back to your community can create a sense of purpose and help you connect with others.
Learn a new skill or start a hobby — setting goals and challenging yourself can foster confidence, self-esteem and help you switch off. There’s more to life than work and enjoying downtime is important.
Instead of bottling up uncomfortable feelings or letting critical thoughts run rampant, take a moment, tune in with how you feel and express it. This could be through talking or writing.
Whether it’s a lap around your local park or a day of hiking — exposure to nature is linked to lower stress, better mood, improved attention and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders.
Limit alcohol and other drugs
While they might make you feel good in the short-term, excessive alcohol consumption and drug use can make your mental health worse in the long run.