Queensland Mental Health Week is an annual event that aims to increase awareness and interest in positive mental health and wellbeing across the state.
Held from October 6 to 14, 2018, this year’s theme is encouraging us all to value our mental health by taking six simple steps that have been proven to improve wellbeing. They are:
1. Be active – do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
Physical activities can positively influence the way you think, feel and function. Walking is particularly great as it gets you outside, it’s free and simple to do. You don’t need to go far when you are getting started and once you start to experience the benefits you’ll be inspired to go further. Choosing activities that you enjoy will help you feel great and give you an instant mental boost.
2. Keep learning – embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
Our wellbeing can improve by taking up a new hobby. Think about what you’ve always wanted to do and look for courses in your local area or even online courses that can help you to learn a new skill. The University of the Third Age (www.u3aonline.org.au) has a wide range of online and in person courses for seniors.
3. Give – your time, your words, your presence
Practising random acts of kindness or volunteering your time can work wonders for your wellbeing and mental health. Think about what skills you can bring to others – whether that’s on a personal level or within an organisation.
4. Connect – talk, listen, be there
Close relationships with friends and family can add up to seven years to our lives. While it can be easy to feel like we’re ‘too busy’ to catch up with those close to us, having supportive personal relationships can help us feel less alone.
5. Take notice – remember the simple things that give you joy
Savouring our surroundings gives us, quite literally, more breathing space. Getting out in nature and in your local community can help you to feel connected and a part of something bigger than yourself. Once you get out and notice the simple things around you that give you joy, consider writing these down in a gratitude journal.
6. Care for our planet – it’s the home we all share
Spending time in nature has a physiological effect on the body, reducing blood pressure and the hormone cortisol, which is linked with stress. Being in beautiful outdoor surroundings acts as refreshment for the brain, which can also improve focus, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. So it makes sense that caring for the natural environment can help us enjoy these feelings ourselves, while also ensuring they remain accessible for future generations.