Mental Health Week - Mental Health Starts with Me.
Mental Health Week is internationally recognised and it’s this week! The aims of Mental Health Week are to increase everyone’s mental health by encouraging healthy coping behaviours, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and fostering positive relationships.
World Mental Health Day is marked every year on the same date, the 10th of October, which is this Saturday. Below are some suggestions adapted from the Better Health Channel, for focusing on the mental health of you and your family this weekend.
Connect with others. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards. Take the family to see someone special you haven’t seen for a while.
Take time to enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword with the kids; go for a walk in the park; read a book together; chop up some old clothes and make a memory quilt; draw pictures with your kids – whatever takes your fancy.
Participate and share interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Join a sports club; a band; a walking group; a dance class; a theatre or choir group; or start your own.
Contribute to your community. Help out a neighbor this weekend, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend. There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world.
Take care of yourself. Be active and eat well. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – gardening, dancing and bushwalking all count. Do something nourishing together this weekend.
Challenge yourself. Learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. This weekend, ask your kids to teach you something they are learning about. Learning improves your mental fitness, while striving to meet your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.
Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. Do some relaxation activities with the kids this weekend. Try sitting silently for three minutes listening for as many sounds as possible.
Rest and refresh. Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep. Allow some unfocussed time this weekend to refresh; let your mind wander, daydream or simply watch the clouds go by for a while.
Notice the here and now. Take a moment this weekend to notice each of your senses. Simply ‘be’ in the moment – feel the sun and wind on your face and notice the air you are breathing. Practising mindfulness by focusing your attention on being in the moment is great for your mental health.
Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor (GP) about where to find a counsellor or community mental health service. None of us have a life completely free from worry and stress. Everyone’s journey has its ups and downs and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.
For the grown ups, there are also some excellent television programs on mental health as part of the ABCs ‘Mental As’ programming.
Have a great mental health weekend!!
And the day came where the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk to bloom. Anais Nin