While overcoming mental health issues is neither quick nor easy, it is possible. You can take charge of your own life (or indeed help others to do the same) by fostering healthy habits in order to look after your mental wellbeing. You can help combat depression by being active, generating a sense of belonging in your community, and making goals in your life with a commitment to achieving them. In other words, trying to live life by the mantra to ‘Act, Belong and Commit’.
The Western Australian Association for Mental Health is using this message, with a focus on suicide prevention, as the official theme for 2016 Mental Health Week, which runs from October 8 to 15. This coincides with World Mental Health Day which is October 10 this year.
So what are some practical ways you can put ‘Act, Belong, Commit’ into practice to help keep yourself mentally health? Let’s take a look!
But first, let’s understand a bit more about Depression
When you’re depressed, there is a tendency to withdraw from people and isolate yourself from society. It can be tough to muster the energy to leave the house, and talking to friends or loved ones can seem an odious task. As a result, it can also become difficult for anyone in your support network to reach out to you. Often, depression does not just affect the person who is depressed.
It’s important to start a dialogue about mental health issues and to learn about how we can help ourselves, and others, to stay mentally healthy and prevent depression and suicidal thoughts from taking over. The more we talk, the more we understand – and the more we can help ourselves and help each other. Together, we can save lives.
Start Off Small: Act
Depression drains your energy and drive, which can make it difficult to stay active. Many people might not know this, but introducing gentle exercise into your daily routine is an incredibly effective way to help combat depression. This doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise – simply walking for thirty minutes each day can suffice to begin with.
What can you do? Make a conscious effort to be active and stay focussed, and then build up to taking on more varied forms of physical (and mental) activity. Take a walk, read a book, call a loved one or stop for a chat, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something. The key thing to remember here is that slow progress is still progress.
It’s Good to Talk: Belong
Experiencing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are an incredibly isolating, frightening thing to have to deal with. One of the key factors of depression is this feeling of isolation and a desire to not be around people. Talking therapies can help to overcome the feelings of despair, isolation and thoughts of suicide – but even before you see a psychologist for depression counselling, there are ways you can begin to break down the barrier of isolation. You don’t even have to talk about yourself, your problems, or your feelings. Simply interacting with family and friends, and feeling like you are a part of a community is a big step toward fostering a sense of good social and emotional well-being.
What can you do? It’s a great idea to get out into your community (even if this seems daunting and challenging at first) and start to socialise. Isolation only breeds more of the same – but by joining a community group, taking up charity work or volunteering for a local cause, you can begin to find belonging and meaning in your life. It’s never too late to build your support network, or even to create new friendships.
Take Charge of Your Life: Commit
If you suffer from depression, or if you support someone who is suffering, it’s important to realise there is hope, and you are not powerless. One crucial step in taking charge of your life and changing your thought process is by setting goals and committing to achieving them. This goes hand in hand with nurturing a sense of purpose and well-being.
What can you do? Starting a hobby, committing to making new friends, or even setting a small goal to leave the house at least once a day is progress. And remember that it is OK to go after what you want in life; it is OK to be selfish in this respect because taking care of your mental health goes hand in hand with curating a sense of purpose and achievement.
Setting goals and achieving them doesn’t have to be daunting. Begin by writing down what it is you want out of life (remember, start off small), and then curate healthy habits around that goal.
Let’s say you want to be more active. Then get out there and start taking those baby steps! Take up a cause, help a neighbour, learn something new or volunteer for a local charity. All of these are small and manageable steps, but they are steps in the right direction. If you have a goal in mind, then the rest should follow.
There is Always Hope
The most important thing to remember is that there is hope. If you suffer from depression, or you know someone who does – then you can start to change things by adopting the ‘Act, Belong, Commit’ premise.
Fostering healthy habits such as being more active, interacting with your community, and committing to achieving goals (however small), are just some of the steps you can take to help take care of your mental health. If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to gauge how you’re feeling, what state of mind you are in and if you need to take action in order to improve your state of well-being.
A simple, easy first step to take to do this would be to take this self-assessment test to gain a better understanding of where you are with your emotional wellbeing and how you can improve. We hope it inspires you to Act, Belong and Commit to improve your mental health.
Please remember too that even though you might be working hard to stay mentally healthy, you may still need to talk to someone. It’s important to seek professional help if you’re struggling; so remember that talking to a clinical psychologist or other therapist can help you to find more coping mechanisms and address the roots of your issues. You can book an appointment with us today to talk.