Mental wellbeing isn’t just about avoiding mental illness. Feeling content, happy, confident, and engaging with the world around you are all part of mental wellbeing. The most important factors that affect mental wellbeing are your actions and the way that think and cope with situations. Luckily you can learn to control these factors. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is particularly helpful for improving mental wellbeing.
There are also some simple steps you can take to improving your mental wellbeing and happiness:
1. Spend time with others – evidence shows that good relationships are essential for happiness. Remember that maintaining good relationships takes time and effort. Also try to broaden your relationship circle by volunteering, trying new activities and visiting new places.
2. Give – whether it’s the gift of time, money or simply a kind word, studies have found that acts of giving and kindness can improve mental wellbeing and happiness.
3. Keep active –one of the best ways to boost happiness is to stay physically active. Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals from the brain called endorphins and also increases feelings of confidence and self-esteem.
4. Be mindful – becoming more aware of the present and taking notice of what is around you can boost mental wellbeing. Take in the sounds, smells, sights and tastes you experience each day – and recognise the thoughts that you have. This will help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as boosting your mood.
5. Challenge yourself – learning or developing new skills can improve and maintain mental wellbeing. Not only will it boost confidence and self-esteem, but it will also increase your social circles.
A low mood will tend to pass after a short time and making small changes can help to lift a low mood. If your low mood is continuous, it could be a sign of depression. Other symptoms include:
~ Feeling tired all the time
~ Feeling nervous or anxious
~ Feeling worthless
~ Feeling that life isn’t worth living
~ Digestive problems
~ Poor sleep
~ Change or loss of appetite
~ Significant weight loss or gain
~ Withdrawing from family and friends
~ Misusing alcohol or drugs
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms it’s important to contact your health practitioner as soon as possible. You can also contact Beyond Blue (www.beyondblue.org.au or 1300 22 46 36) for support and information.
Written by Ruth Tongue