It’s not just our body that we need to look after, but our mind as well!

Here at Live Strong and Prosper, we often present information that stresses the importance of taking care of our body. But it is also important to take care of our mind as well.

With R U Ok? Day approaching, we thought it would be a good time to have a chat about mental health. Specifically, let’s discuss how we can maintain our own mental health and support those around us. 

What do we mean by Mental Health?

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organisation as: “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Mental Health conditions affect 20% of Australian’s every year, with 45% of people experiencing a mental health condition at some stage during their lifetime. These mental health conditions include (but are not limited to) depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and personality disorders. Each mental health condition affects people in different ways, but nonetheless they all have a significant impact on an individual’s overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Even people who are considered mentally ‘healthy’ can go through prolonged periods of sadness, stress or anxiety that can have major implications on their daily life. This is especially true in a society where we are all locked up at home all day while we try and fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many people are impacted by mental health conditions and everyone is susceptible to it. Hence, it is important that we are able to not only understand how to take care of our own mental health, but how to help those around us as well. 

If you would like more information regarding mental health, there are several great organisations with lots of detailed information. Here are three great websites that we would recommend starting with: Headspace (services for young people), Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute

'R U Ok?' Day

‘R U Ok? day’ is a national day dedicated to reminding us to ask someone who might be struggling with life’s ups and downs if they are okay.

This year, it is being held on Thursday September 10, and on this day we encourage everyone to ask at least one person about how they are doing. This is especially important now as we are all locked up at home as we battle our way through this pandemic!

"I'm just one person, what can I do?"

There are many ways that you can help those around you. Even by yourself, you are able to change the world for one person. Just remember that you do not need to be an expert to help someone, just a great friend!

I could go on for a while about the different ways in which you can help someone who you think might be struggling. The simplest way is to get in touch with them and ask “are you okay?” These three words can be very powerful. Most of us don’t express our feelings naturally because either we are too embarrassed to mention it or just don’t know how to start the conversation. Asking the question provides someone with the invitation to open up and express the feelings that they have buried deep inside. And I’m sure we all know the amazing feeling of that weight lifting off your shoulders when you talk to someone about problem. 

If you are unsure of the best way to ask someone if they are okay, check our the R U OK? website. 

Don't just worry about everyone else!

As important as it is to check in with others and to make sure they are okay, it is just as important to take care of yourself! Maybe you are having some difficulties at home or are struggling with work?  You could be stressed about an upcoming event, missing loved ones or are just generally run down and tired. The reasons will vary for everyone and some ways might not be as important as they way you respond to them. That is why it is so important that you take some time to look after your own mental health.

Like many things, it is easier said than done. But there are many strategies that can help you improve or manage your mental health:

      • Getting some fresh air
      • Yoga or meditation
      • Mindfulness
      • “Me time”
      • Having a conversation with a friend or family member
      • Physical activity and exercise

If things feel overwhelming, keep in mind that your GP is a vital link to professional supports such as a Psychologist.

The power of physical activity

Exercise is often considered as a neglected intervention for mental health conditions. Although there is no consensus in regard to how exercise assists in mental health management, as there are many mechanisms that contribute. However, the link between exercise and positive impacts on mental health is solid and well researched.  Both general aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, swimming, gardening and dancing, and resistance training, done from a gym or home setting, have been shown to provide these benefits.

Regular exercise results in mental health improvements by reducing the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. It also helps improve self-esteem, cognitive function, mood, overall quality of life and the symptoms associated with social withdrawal. Further effects of exercise such as improved sleep, energy levels, weight and fatigue management, and cardiovascular fitness have also been particularly helpful for those with mental health conditions.

Where do I start?

As we have mentioned, any form of aerobic or resistance training exercise can help provide these benefits. If you are a bit unsure of what options there are, check out our No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym! post. Looking for something a bit more fun to get the family involved? Try Your guide to making exercise fun for kids! – it has some great options for families of any size!

If doing it alone seems too daunting then simply drop us an email and we’ll make an appointment with you to talk you through the best approach for you. You do not have to do this alone – we are here to help.

Enjoying this Blog?
Check out some of our other posts.

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday!

In the meantime, here are some related posts that may interest you:

Keep an eye out in the future for our brand new series “How I live strong and prosper”. In this series, we’ll be chatting with Simply Stronger clients and finding out what they do to live strong and prosper!

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

We are here to help!

Exercise Physiologists specialise in helping people identify the type of exercise that will help them achieve their goals – not just in a gym with weights, but to include in your everyday life! If you would like some assistance in determining the best type fo exercise for you to help you achieve your goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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References and useful resources

Beyond Blue, What is mental health?, viewed 04/09/2020, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/what-is-mental-health

Black Dog Institute, Facts and Figures about mental health, viewed 04/09/2020, https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/1-facts_figures.pdf

Callaghan, P., (2004). Exercise: a neglected intervention in mental health care?. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 11(4), pp.476-483.

Photos provided by arek Adeoye, Fernando Cferdo, Josh Riemer, Mor Shani and Sincerely Media via Unsplash.com

R U Ok? Day – https://www.ruok.org.au/join-r-u-ok-day

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 8(2), 106.

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