The main message of this theme is to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing just as much as we would to maintain our physical and social health. When we make our mental health a priority, we are actively practicing self-care, which is an important part of our daily life. Similar to being physically healthy, maintaining a healthy mind helps to prevent mental illness and other issues that can make daily living a struggle and it also allows for a positive lifestyle.
With each individual being unique, it is important to recognise that our mental health needs are diverse, as is the way each individual looks after their mental health and wellbeing.
While it may seem challenging at first, here are a few ways we suggest will help you better value your mind!
One way of valuing our mind involves engaging in physical self-care. While there has been a lot of focus on the importance of having a balanced diet and participating in regular exercise to look after one’s mental health, unfortunately sleep is another key factor that is overlooked.
Sleep is one of the simplest ways of looking after our mental health, and it is important that we maintain a balanced duration and quality of sleep. It has been well established that individuals who sleep poorly are likely to suffer from fatigue, frustration, irritability and significant memory loss, develop weakened immune systems and are more likely to make mistakes involving daily tasks. A lack of sufficient sleep may also have a profound effect on one’s relationships and social activities, which can also be a contributing factor in those developing anxiety and/or depression.
Taking this into consideration, here are some ways to try improving your sleep!
- Make a routine for your sleep by having regular bed and wake up times. This will help you gain a healthy sleeping routine.
- Reduce distractions that can interfere with your sleep such as the use of mobile phones, laptops and other technological devices in bed. It is vital that you make your bed a place for sleeping only. Use a traditional alarm clock as opposed to your phone alarm and check any emails on your laptop before you lay on your bed.
- Find a relaxation technique that works for you! It’s important that you try not to take worried feelings to bed, as this can impact the quality of your sleep. Try some meditation techniques or breathing exercises that can help you feel calm and at ease when you go to sleep.
Our tip – Aim for more sleep! See 10 tips 2015.
 Mental Health Foundation UK (2011). Sleep Matters – The impact of sleep on health and wellbeing. London.
 Stevens, P. (2013). A good night’s sleep. Monash University
 Sleep Health Foundation (2011). Ten tips for a good night sleep. Retrieved from: http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/facts/Tips%20for%20a%20Good%20Night’s%20Sleep.pdf
Positive self- talk
Even if we’re not aware of it, we’re all engaging in self-talk every day- ‘Am I running late?’ ‘Am I am capable?’ Unfortunately for most of us, stressful situations can result in our self-talk and thinking becoming negative, impacting on how we view ourselves and the actions we take. As humans, we are prone to negative evaluations of ourselves. However, this is not a true evaluation of who we truly are and what each of us is capable of achieving. Recognising this pattern of self-talk can be challenging but it will ultimately allow for a healthier and calmer mind. When we engage in positive self-talk, it gives us the opportunity to explore our strengths and qualities. This can help build on our levels of self-confidence and ability to strive towards new challenges, with the aim of producing a positive and productive outcome.
Our tip – Visualise something positive See 10 tips 2015.
Take time out
An important aspect of prioritising our mental health is acknowledging when we have taken on too much, whether it be work commitments, study or even our everyday responsibilities. In our everyday lives, we need to take part in activities that support our mental health and wellbeing.
As important as it may be for us to get through our work schedules and still attend to personal matters, we must also give ourselves permission to take some quiet time, either to rest, reflect or disconnect from some of our persistent distractions. Taking time out can also help us evaluate our priorities and understand the things that matter to us and make us happy.
We all take part in some activity that helps us alleviate the stresses in our lives and find enjoyment. If we don’t take part in enjoyable activities, our mood and motivation to complete tasks and/or address situations can decrease. If we do something that we enjoy every day, our overall mood can improve and we can develop a positive outlook towards our mental health and wellbeing.
Our tip – Make time for you See 10 tips 2015.
Share this value!
When we acknowledge that prioritising our mental health and wellbeing is crucial to our overall health and maintaining a good quality of life, it is equally important to share this value with our family, friends, colleagues and peers. While research has taught us about how common mental illness is within our society, unfortunately stigma associated with mental health and illness has become an ongoing barrier to encouraging help seeking behaviours. It is essential that we learn to change our attitudes towards seeking help and gain a positive insight into achieving emotional balance.When the stresses in our lives start to overwhelm us or you notice this happening to someone close, start a conversation about the areas that are causing stress, your emotional state and the willingness to seek help. Explore and research ways of looking after your mental health and wellbeing and that of others. Remember to remain open minded by understanding that all of us are different and thus have different ways of looking after our mental health and wellbeing. Overall however, our aim for improving our wellbeing is the same.
Our tip – Reach out before things get tough (See 10 tips 2015).
Do you need some more help?
Sometimes our biggest priority will be getting some help for things that are causing us problems or for changes in the way we are feeling and thinking.
Often, a good first step is having a chat to a local doctor who can refer you to someone who can help. You may be able to obtain a Medicare rebate for some sessions with a psychologist when your GP develops a management plan.
For more information on how to find help, call the Mental Health Information Service on 1300 794 991 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday) or the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 (24hrs). Another option is to connect to an online database of mental health services via www.wayaheaddirectory.org.au
If you would like more information regarding Mental Health, support or about maintaining wellbeing, please visit our website www.mentalhealth.asn.au to download and view our numerous factsheets and support programs.
If you need to talk to someone now call Lifeline on 13 11 14
If you are from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, contact the Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC) Information and Clinical Consultation Line on (02) 9912 3851.
Finally, remember that if you don’t find the right help the first time you try, it’s important to keep trying. It’s okay to ask again or to talk to another mental health professional until you find the support and help that is right for you.
WayAhead – The Mental Health Association NSW
The WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW is a community-based organisation and registered charity that has worked since 1932 to address stigma and to promote mental health and wellbeing through education, support and advocacy in NSW. Our vision is a society that understands, values, and actively supports the best possible mental health and wellbeing.
Our programs include:
- Mental health promotion, including coordinating Mental Health Month in NSW
- Workplace Health Promotion Network, working to improve employee wellbeing
- Anxiety support and self-help groups – for more information, please visit http://understandinganxiety.org.au/
- Small Steps, providing education to teachers and parents about anxiety in children
- A mental health information and referral service and database www.wayahead.org.au
Visit our website to find out more wayahead.org.au or call 1300 794 991.
 Andreas, S (2012). Transforming negative self- talk: Practical effective exercise. Retrieved from http://books.google.com.au/books?id=r5aAmwS5K6AC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
 Zartaloudi, A., & Madianos, M.(2010). Stigma related to help- seeking from a mental health
professional: A literature review. Health Science Journal, 4(2), 77-83. Retrieved from