Taking an active and deliberate role in maintaining our overall health and wellbeing is important for extending the quality and length of our lives, and yet only 40% of Australians intentionally implement self-care strategies in their lives.
Seeking help for our mental health is just as important and normal for our wellbeing as seeking help from a dentist or a doctor, but only 1 in 5 people experiencing mental health concerns seek formal support.
75% of Australians will experience a potentially traumatic event in their lifetime. Our responses to trauma are common, help is available, and we can all take an active role in lessening the impact of trauma for ourselves and those we care for.
The impact of stress on our health is felt by the majority of us. 64% of Australians feel that stress has negatively impacted their mental health and 72% of Australians feel that stress has negatively impacted their physical health.
Music has multiple benefits for our physical and mental health. Research suggests music can reduce our stress response, reduce symptoms of depression, increase cognition and memory, manage pain, boost our mood and improve sleep patterns, endurance and performance. That’s a LOT of positives!
Music can also be used as an outlet for creativity and expression, and as social connection.
What music boosts your mood?
Statistics show that 45 percent of Australians will experience a mental illness of some kind at some point in their lives. This means that although it may feel like it, we are NOT alone in our experience. Talking about our experiences of mental illness openly does two main things; it reduces the stigma surrounding mental illness within our communities, and it connects us to help from others for our mental health concerns.
To build your connections to help and support:
Who do you reach out to when you feel alone?
Engaging in acts of kindness can have enormous power for you and the recipient. Many studies have found that kindness, compassion and giving are associated with improved happiness, positive mental health, a stronger immune system, reduced stress, anxiety and depression and improved relationships.
Being kind to others creates a positive feedback loop – the more you give – the more positive you feel – the happier you are! Positive outcomes of kindness also extend to people who witness the act of compassion to another person, who are then more likely to be kind themselves.
Some quick and simple ways to complete an act of kindness are:
What has been your most recent act of kindness?
At times we can feel overwhelmed by the concerns we have about our lives, the wellbeing of others, and events in our wider communities (sometimes global).
It is normal for us to have a long list of concerns, it shows we care! However, in order to cope effectively and reduce the burden this worry has on us, it is helpful to reflect on where our stressors lie within our circles of control. That is, do we have no control, some control, or total control over it? Studies show it is more helpful to spend our energy on the things we can do something about than dwell on problems we can’t change.
Our circle of control includes what we say, do think and feel, which may seem small, but encompasses quite a lot, e.g. the way we talk about ourselves and others, the people we surround ourself with, what news and sites we read and subscribe to, who we turn to for help, how we react – the list goes on!
To help recognise what you can change and accept what you can’t ask yourself:
How do you stay focused on stressors within your control?
Having a strong belief in our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us and succeed is known as Self-Efficacy. High Self-Efficacy is closely tied with confidence, motivation, resilience and feelings of control which have a positive impact on our stress response, the efficacy of treatment, and our overall wellbeing.
The 4 main sources that impact our self-efficacy beliefs are learning and mastering new skills, observing and emulating people that model positive views of self-worth, spoken words of affirmation, and our mental wellbeing.
Ways to boost our confidence and self-efficacy (or the self-efficacy of others) include:
What boosts your self-confidence?
Over the last decade there has been increasing research into the role of physical exercise in the treatment of mental health, and in improving mental well-being in the general population.
From this research, we now understand exercise helps significantly reduce anxiety and depression, lower feelings of stress, and improve the symptoms experienced in trauma related disorders. It also improves our sleep which is imperative to positive mental wellbeing.
To reap the most benefit from exercise:
What ways do you like to engage in physical exercise?
Research shows that mindfulness is positively associated with psychological health, and the practise of mindfulness may increase well-being, reduce psychological symptoms of depression and anxiety and emotional reactivity, and improve our self-acceptance.
When we live in the present moment we tend to be happier, calmer and more appreciative. Mindfulness can also increase your ability to be in tune with our thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, which allows us to identify and communicate how we are thinking and feeling to both ourselves and others.
Some quick and simple ways to practice mindfulness include:
How do you stay in the present moment?
Looking after the fundamental aspects of our health is pivotal to greater wellbeing. When caring for ourselves and others, especially at times of overwhelm, it is helpful to take a step back and focus on nailing the basics.
Take some time to think about how you are meeting your S-E-L-F needs. Sleep, Exercise, Leisure and Food all play a part in promoting greater physical and mental health. As a guide:
What are you doing for your S-E-L-F today?
Being empathetic towards others can help them feel heard, understood, and accepted and encourage them to speak openly about their feelings.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how a situation might make someone feel. Watch Rose’s video to learn how to be empathetic and supportive to those around you.
Here are some simple steps on how to show empathy: