What will you ‘do’?

I believe mental health week is an important time to raise awareness of important issues including depression and anxiety – but it also annoys me a little bit that we need a dedicate a week to a topic that should be part of what we do in our everyday existence.

The theme of next week’s mental health week celebrations is ‘Value Mental Health’ – I wholeheartedly agree that we not only need to value mental health but cultivate it.

Mental and physical health are so intimately related that it is impossible, and I’d say almost reckless, to imply that there is a clear line where one finishes and the other starts.

So, we know that to be physically fit, we need undertake certain activities, ie. eating good food, drinking (water), sleeping well and exercising regularly to name a few.  We could say we do these things, but ultimately, we actually need to ‘do’ them to stay physically healthy, we can’t just say we have!  Mental fitness is no different, we need to complete certain practices to cultivate being mentally well. Again, you can say you are grateful and kind to yourself – but unless you truly are, you aren’t helping yourself!!

I was reading an article this week about activities we can ‘do’ to improve our mental health (not just during Mental Health Week but all year around!) – you can read the whole article at http://theweek.com/articles/601157/neuroscience-reveals-4-rituals-that-make-happy , or I have summarised the dot points below – here they are:

  • Ask yourself ‘What am I grateful for? – turns out that even if you can’t think of anything, it is the searching that helps to have an antidepressant effect on the brain.
  • Label negative feelings – simply giving the feelings a name has been proven to decrease the impact that the emotions have on our state.
  • Make that decision – It’s no coincidence that you feel a sigh of relief once you have made a decision, no matter how small it may seem.
  • Touch people – not in a creepy way, but research has shown that physical touch increases happiness, eg. application of this tip needs permission, but might include such things as a hug or pat on back or holding hands.  See? Not too hard!

So while we need to ‘talk the talk’ and value mental health,  we actually have to practice ‘walking the walk’ too!!  So, this mental health week, how many of these four tips, or what else can you ‘do’ to improve your own state?

 

Featured Image:  Photo via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/”>Visualhunt.com</a&gt;

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Are you a responsible human?

I hope you know its RU OK? Day next week, on Thursday.  Its been around since 2009 and while the concept is simple, the question, RU OK?, can make a massive difference to someone’s life.

We know that isolation and loneliness are rampant in our society, as is the impact of mental health conditions.

These numbers are from the RU OK? Day website and I’ve got to be honest – I work in health and was shocked reading through them, this is really important:

  • About 8 people take their own lives every day in Australia
  • 65,000 people attempt suicide each year
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians under 44 years
  • Men account for around 75 per cent of all suicide deaths

What do you think about those?  I think you would be kidding yourself to think this wasn’t a massive problem.  As a responsible human, it is reasonably accepted that you could do something to contribute to improving these deplorable statistics.

It would be super easy to get caught up in your own ‘stuff’ and not ask that simple question….but we can’t, that’s not ok!!

We owe it to each other as humans to stay connected and have regular meaningful conversations!!

We need to actively and courageously start genuine conversations.  This can be as easy as taking a few minutes to show some care and empathy.  The listening should be active and needs to happen without judgement.  You don’t have to solve the ‘problem’ but rather encourage action and check in on them again soon after the conversation (as explained in detail at http://www.ruok.org.au)

From the health perspective, this is what we would call peer-led early intervention.  Sounds fancy, but really just describes that we are often we are happier to listen to and open up to our peers – so the concept of RU OK? Day has SO much merit.

And lastly, if you are the one being asked RU OK? Please know it is more than OK to say ‘No, I’m not ok’  The people around you who care about you are well placed to provide support for you – let them!  They value you enough to ask how you are, so value yourself enough to speak freely about how you are feeling.

When we feel valued we have reasons bigger than ourselves to be able to deal with life’s up’s and down’s.

So what does this mean for you? – there are two main points to take away:

  1. Ask your important people ‘RUOK?’ and
  2. Know when you are not OK!

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