During the holidays, ‘Mental Health Week’ was observed and October is often recognised as ‘Mental Health Month’. Mental health is increasingly seen as being an important focus. According to the ‘Kidsmatter’ program: “Good mental health is vital for life. Children who are mentally healthy are better able to meet life’s challenges and have stronger relationships with the people around them. They are also better learners who are more likely to succeed at school. Good mental health in childhood provides a solid basis for managing changes as they grow”. Of course mental health is equally important for adults as it is for children.
In my role as Wellbeing Coordinator, and in my role as a parent, I am acutely aware that maintaining positive mental health is a challenge for all of us. Parenting in itself can challenge our mental health. The changes that we experience in this time of our lives, draw on our mental health in areas such as resilience, optimism etc. The busyness of this stage of our lives can also find us neglecting our own wellbeing in pursuit of looking after our children.
We all know that our children will learn more from what we do than what we say. The example set by parents will be one of, if not the most powerful contributor to our children learning the skills and mindsets of positive mental health. Of course, mental ill-health or Illness is not something that we can become completely immune to and this can bring particular challenges that require the support of Health Professionals.
Over the coming period of time, we will be posting through the TLS social media some mental health strategies called ‘Stress Less Tips’. We are thankful for the resources that are freely available through WayAhead.org.au, which is the website of the Mental Health Association of NSW. I encourage you to try these techniques and to share them as a family. I will be interested in your feedback.
If you wish to have more information about Mental Health or any of these tips, please let me know.
Remember that each newsletter includes contact details for some of the key helplines and websites.
Be kind to yourself.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #1:
Breathe deep, release slow. There is a reason this is Tip 1. Let this be you “go to”. When stress or anxiety come your way – breathe deeply. A well-known technique is to breathe in for the count to 9, hold for the count to 2 and breathe out for the count of 11, all the while focussing on your breath. Besides which, apparently breathing is good for you anytime!
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #2:
Share your passion. Do you have a passion? Pursue it! (Providing it is a healthy one). Being energized and having a sense of enjoyment just happens to be good for us. How cool is that?! Share it with someone and the benefits only increase.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #3:
Listen to live music. Music connects to the soul. It can enhance, or redirect, our moods and emotions. Listening to live music has an even stronger effect, often with the added benefit of doing so in the company of others.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #4:
Explore local surroundings. Getting out and about is good for us. Experiencing something new is even more beneficial. Connecting to your local area also gives a sense of “place” and home.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #5:
Remind yourself of good times. Tapping into those good memories allow us to recapture some of the positive feelings that were associated with them. You don’t want to live in the past, but when the present is stressful – a little bit of nostalgia acts like a mini-holiday.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #6:
Have a mindful moment. If you have negative perceptions of meditation or mindfulness, just set them aside. A mindful moment is a simple as taking time to pause, to stop “doing” and just to “be”. Be “mindful” of the present moment, and soak up the joy of existence.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #7:
Express Optimism. Optimism isn’t about ignoring reality. It is about seeing the possibility of good in amongst the reality. Expressing it reinforces the positive effect – and just might help someone else as well.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #8:
Learn ways to stimulate your mind. You might need to try a few things – read, learn a language, study, art, craft, play chess – there are many ideas. Just choose something that will grow your mind.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #9:
Set a tech-free time. A modern day challenge is our default to engage with technology. Technology has many, many benefits – and many, many limitations. It can get in the way of real-time relationships, it can tend to use only a small amount of our minds, we can become absorbed by mindless or negative social media etc. Switch off for a while. See what you think.
Mental Health Month Stress Less Tip #10:
Volunteer to help others. There is a growing body of evidence about the benefits to ourselves when we give ourselves to a cause that is bigger than us, and when we help others. Besides which, it helps others!