Written by Shannon Dowdall, Student, AUT

We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times. Given that it is mental health awareness month this October, now is as good as time as any to discuss the importance of mental health! As important as it is, to be looking after our planet, and ensuring its longevity and sustainability, it is equally important to be looking after our own. Here are a few things you can integrate into your life, to make things just that much more bearable.

1. Breath work.

Breathing is something we all do, and it is our biggest tool in terms of remaining calm and reducing anxiety. Because it is something we have all done our whole lives, it is something that is often overlooked. By focusing on your breath, not only in times of stress but throughout your day you will be able to feel the difference as you experience increased peacefulness and feel the stress leave your body. Take the time, whenever you have a spare second to centre yourself and to find your breath. Even just taking three deep conscious breaths will slow down your racing mind.

2. Vitamin D!

We live so much of our lives in doors, sometimes we can go a whole day without ever feeling fresh air, moving from our homes to our cars to our work and back again. This is incredibly damaging to not only our physical health, but also our mental health, sunlight increases serotonin production which will in turn help your mood! So try make an effort to get some sunlight, even if it is only for a few minutes on your lunch break.

3. Talk to someone.

It doesn’t have to be your Mum or your best friend because to some this may be an incredibly daunting thought. It could be a professional or someone from Lifeline. Just the act of reaching out and taking the time to tell someone how you feel, letting someone know that you are having a hard time. This will not only help you to feel better, but also to realise that people care about you and want to help you.

4. Find some coping strategies that work for you.

Often when we are so deep in our thoughts and feelings, it can be hard to find a way out or even see a possibility of it ever not feeling this way. By talking to a professional, or doing some research yourself you can find some grounding techniques that work for you! Opposite action is a simple technique to use to help elevate the anxious mind. Opposite action, entails doing the direct opposite action of what your anxious mind is telling you to do. Say you are extremely anxious about walking into a café alone, your anxious mind will turn this task into something that feels dangerous for you. By channelling opposite action, and walking into the café alone, you will not only feel accomplished that you did what your mind told you, you could not. But you silenced your anxious thoughts, and small continuous steps like these, will over time help you to ignore your anxious thoughts all together.

5. Everything is temporary.

Your feelings, your situation, your thoughts – are all temporary. You will not feel this way forever, and it is important to remember that there will come a time where you will not feel like this. Once you realise that, there is a certain weight lifted that was previously holding you hostage.