Last month on the 14th of September we acknowledged RUOK? Day, an important annual event when millions of people around Australia are encouraged to take the time to check in on the mental health of their family, friends, and peers.
This October, we also acknowledge Mental Health Month, a time for all of us to reflect on our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we may have lived experience of mental illness or not.
The importance of these events cannot be understated, as the unfortunate reality is that the likelihood of us experiencing mental illness is only increasing.
Research from Mental Health Australia (MHA) identifies that cost of living pressures are taking their toll with 43% of Australians not feeling confident in their ability to meet normal monthly living expenses.
Specifically, 58% of people identified that the rising cost of living is having a big impact on mental health. Digging a little deeper, particular population groups being hit the hardest include; average families, women, 18-39 year olds, carers and low income earners.
The ARA recently also conducted a survey where 78% of retailer workers who responded had feelings of stress, anxiety and/or depression over the past four weeks.
There are ways to improve your feelings of wellbeing and in the lead up to the busy period of Christmas trading, now is a good time to reflect and put into practice some small daily steps towards better mental health.
Dr Luke Martin, Engagement Manager, Wellness and Prevention at Beyond Blue, recently joined Director of Policy & Impact, Jason Robertson in a conversation around the importance of looking after your mental health, particularly as a small business owner.
So, it’s important we take the time to assess ourselves and our loved ones, and look out for any signs that may indicate support is needed.
According to Dr Martin, there are generally four key signs of concern, such as:
- Physical – challenges with sleep and fatigue, gaining or losing weight, trouble breathing
- Feelings – overwhelmed, indecisive, afraid, generally not feeling yourself
- Thinking – negative thoughts, poor concentration, intrusive thoughts, general changes in thinking
- Behaviour – productivity, social withdrawal, avoidance, using alcohol or drugs
If you or someone you know is ticking a few of these boxes, it’s important you reach out and get support.
When it comes to everyday practical strategies, Dr Martin suggests focussing on what you can control and who and what matters most to you.
Breath work is important, such as breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, breathing out for four seconds. This teaches your brain and your nervous system that there are no threats in your environment, as your breathing has calmed down. This reduces stress levels.
This calendar from Mental Health Australia provides some suggestions on how you can look after your mental health this Mental Health Month.
Finally, Dr Luke highlights the importance of taking small moments of pleasure and purpose. Take a moment to pause, sit and have some down time and try to unwind. Take action, move your body and make a tiny bit of progress towards a goal you care about. Connect to things that are bigger than yourself. And finally, enjoy! Life cannot be about getting through your to do list.
While this October is mental health month, it’s important to check in on yourself and your loved ones daily.
|It is never too late, or too early, to get support.
Crisis support services
For further information see Mental health resources