Content warning: This page contains information related to mental health conditions. If any content in this episode raised any issues for you, please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
Incorporating calming meditation into your daily routine has been found to help manage stress, increase self-awareness, and focus more on the present moment. Choosing when to meditate is up to you. Some prefer early morning meditation, others like to meditate right before bed to ease into sleep.
Learn more about meditation, including easy guided meditation apps you can download straight to your phone.
Why is mindfulness important? Practising mindfulness is a great way to de-clutter your thoughts and allow room to focus on the things that are most important to you. Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment, focusing on the now and allowing the fears and worries of yesterday to melt away. Mindfulness activities can include gardening, colouring, listening to music and many others.
Practising mindfulness doesn't have to take long - even just 5 minutes of mindfulness has been found to improve various aspects of the mind including focus, mood and quality of sleep. Have a read of these articles from VicHealth and discover the power of mindfulness. Benefits can include stress relief, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and reduced or managed symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Building resilience is a highly important life skill. It is the ability to be aware of outside factors and how they may be impacting your behaviours and reactions.
With emotional resilience, you may feel able to tackle an issue or problem, that otherwise would have been too overwhelming. If you want to take some steps to build more mental resilience, take a look at these articles.
Goal setting gives you a clearer picture to work towards changes or improvements you want in your life. Personal goals (like going for a daily walk) or study and work goals (like getting a project done before deadline), can play an important role in how you feel day to day. Not only does this give you a sense of achievement when you reach your goals, it keeps you motivated and excited for what comes next.
Some basic principles of goal setting include:
- Make your goals specific (so instead of “I will eat healthier”, you could say, “I will eat 2 pieces of fruit a day”).
- Start with things you enjoy—identify your strengths and work with them.
- Break down large goals into smaller, more realistic and achievable goals.
- Give yourself a reward for reaching your goal.
You know yourself best, so it’s okay if your personal development goals are different to those around you. Learn more about goal setting in your personal and professional life with VicHealth.
Mental Health Conditions
Mental health in Australia is a complex subject, and one that takes on many forms. Learn more about mental health, including emotional health and wellbeing, and the support available.
Everyone deals with stress at some point during their lives, and there are different methods of dealing with it. Stress management gives you the power to help reduce levels of stress and improve feelings of calm during those high-stress times. Some symptoms of stress can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
- The inability to stop worrying
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating or keeping focused
Learn some effective ways to reduce stress for stress relief—such as physical exercise, and dedicating time to unwind and relax—with these tips and strategies from VicHealth.
Anxiety is the body’s physical response to a threat or perceived threat. It can cause the heart to race, rapid breathing, and give you a burst of adrenaline, as well as create mental responses such as obsessive thinking and worrying.
If anxiety is impacting your way of life—by stopping you from doing things you enjoy, or impacting your ability to work or communicate—a trained professional like a GP or psychologist can help you learn how to deal with anxiety, fine-tune some anxiety coping strategies, and show you how to reduce anxiety for those unexpected triggers in your day.
If you're living with anxiety, it's important to know you are not alone. These articles provide some starting points for improving your mental wellbeing.
In Australia, around one million adults have depression in any given year. It’s a serious condition that can cause great distress and impact your life. There is depression support out there to help you or your loved one navigate this—you’re not alone in dealing with depression.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Prolonged feelings of worthlessness or negative thoughts
- Feeling run down or sick
- Lacking confidence
- Losing interest or not participating in hobbies you used to enjoy
Depression may be alleviated by making lifestyle changes (such as improving sleep and exercise), but in most cases, deeper psychological treatment and therapy is required to help navigate through the darkness.
Not sure how to help someone with depression? Start by letting them know you are there for them, give them a safe space to express themselves, and encourage them to see a GP if they haven’t already.
The Black Dog Institute also has resources, including online mental health tools and information.
More information on depression and mental wellbeing here.
Many Australians experience mental illness, with research showing one in two people (46%) aged 16-85 experience mental illness at some point in their life. The most common of these illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance-use disorders. Other types of mental illness include anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma-related disorders, psychological disorders and eating disorders.
There is mental health support available in Australia, with many government and not-for-profit organisations available to assist those tackling acute and prolonged challenges.
Discover more about mental health and wellbeing strategies, and mental health facts, with these articles from VicHealth.
When it comes to alcohol, over half of Australians are unaware what a standard drink is. Learn more about alcohol, its effects and subsequent risks with these resources by VicHealth.
Alcohol-related harm is a significant preventable health issue. Every year in Victoria, alcohol causes over 1200 deaths and nearly 40,000 hospitalisations. Alcohol also causes a range of social problems that affect drinkers and those around them.
Discussion of Australia’s problematic ‘alcohol culture’ has increased in recent years, as has the importance of a public health response to change it.
We know that alcohol and mental health are linked, with more than two standard drinks per day posing a risk to physical and mental health over your lifetime. Some mental effects of alcohol include depression, addiction, memory issues, aggression and an increased risk of dementia.
Learn more about the effects of alcohol here.
Learn more about mental health, what factors can help improve mental health, and the importance of being kind to your body – such as getting enough exercise and sleep - for general mental health.
Coronavirus has rocked us in many ways, with feelings of anxiety, distress and concern impacting many. For people whose lives have been affected, the mental health impact of coronavirus can include stress, anxiety, and a general low mood.
If you experience these symptoms, reach out to friends, family, loved ones or book an appointment with your GP.
Strategies for managing mental health can include forming a daily routine, staying active, eating well and staying connected with family and friends. Keep reading on how to manage it in tough times here.
Did you know sleep and mental health are closely connected? In fact, poor sleep has demonstrated links to anxiety and depression, with those who experience it more likely to develop significant mental illness than those who sleep well. So, getting some solid sleep can play a fundamental role in helping improve mental health and clarity. Not only does it help you feel refreshed and ready for the day, it is an essential bodily function that helps the body repair and stave off sickness.
So how does sleep affect mental health? There are different stages of sleep and each has a role in keeping your brain healthy. For example, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is a deep sleep, is involved with important functions such as brain development and the processing of emotional information. The impacts of insufficient sleep can include increased risk of chronic diseases, impacts on mental health, impaired judgement, and reduced productivity.
Learn more about sleep and its essential functions in our resources here.
No person is an island - a lack of social interaction and human connection can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation. While most people enjoy some ‘me-time’, being by yourself for prolonged periods can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as disrupted sleep patterns and elevated blood pressure.
Social isolation impacts many people of all ages around Australia. When it comes to teens and young adults, the effects of social isolation are becoming more prevalent in younger Victorians—out of the 1500 young Victorians surveyed, 50% said they felt lonely sometimes or always.
Learn more about how to cope with loneliness, and how to reach out to your loved ones with resources, strategies and top tips for loneliness in the article here.
Have you ever felt the need to do or say something that feels wrong, due to the expectations or requests from those around you? This is peer pressure. Children aren't the only ones who suffer the impacts of this behaviour. Peer pressure can look different for everyone. It could be the feeling to behave a certain way by your friends, or perhaps to meet the unreasonable expectations of colleagues. Generally, peer pressure in adulthood is less direct than it is in childhood, but it is just as harmful to our mental health.
Peer pressure in adults can occur anywhere, anytime. Although it appears to be more common around the use of alcohol. The influence of peers on drinking behaviour is more pronounced among young Victorians, with 42% of those who had attended a pub feeling obliged to drink when others around them are doing the same, compared to 23% of those aged 30 years or older.
Learn more about peer pressure statistics around alcohol culture with VicHealth here.