Posted on: 08/10/2021

5 ways to look after your mental health

Feeling anxious, stressed or generally unhappy?

We know it’s important to look after our mental health, but in stressful times that is far easier said than done.

Here are some basic ways you can look after your mental health in your day-to-day life.

1. Keep connections

We are stronger, happier and healthier when we connect with others. If you are feeling down, it is even more important to try and keep in contact with people. It can help you feel supported when you need it most. 

While face-to-face connection is beneficial, it is not always possible. But there are still many ways we can connect as a vital part of self-care.

Some ways to connect others:

  • Video call family or friends
  • Join an online group or class
  • Text a friend to ask how they are
  • Chat on the phone with friends or family
  • Play online games
  • Think about other ways to catch up with people if social events are cancelled. Try and reschedule social events for when restrictions ease.

If you feel in need of immediate support, we have a list of urgent support resources or call 000.

2. Get grounded

Grounding techniques, or mindfulness, can help you focus on how your body is feeling in the moment. It helps reduce feeling overwhelmed. Essentially, grounding works by distracting you from negative emotions and thoughts.

One technique is to go through your five senses, one by one, taking note of what you can hear, smell, touch, see or taste.

Once you have become more aware of how you are feeling and your surroundings, take some slow breaths and bring yourself back to the present.

“Many people find it calming to take a moment to check in with how your body is feeling by focusing on your different senses. Then you ask yourself, 'does my anxiety match the circumstances I am in?'” said Jenny Field, Windermere Mental Health and Wellbeing counsellor.

3. Go back to the basics

When there are so many unknowns, it can be helpful to focus on what we can control, rather than what we can’t.

“It’s useful to go back to basic routines when we are trying to deal with so many external changes. Routines can provide stability during times of uncertainty. It’s about doing the things that you already know work for you and your family,” says Jenny.

Some suggestions include:

  • Walking the dog or other pet care activities
  • Keeping a journal
  • Stick to regular sleeping, waking and eating patterns
  • Doing an outdoor activity
  • Creating time to explore interests and hobbies (music, talking to friends, reading, gardening, etc.)
  • Allocating times for chores/learning/work
  • Build in time for regular movement (like stretching in the morning)
  • Allocating times to listen to or watch the news or check social media. It can be overwhelming to be faced with bad news all the time.

4. Consider your children

Children will generally be aware of things that are causing concern amongst adults and may also worry.

It can be useful to:

  • Talk to children about what they see happening around them
  • Ask them if they have any questions or worries
  • Be mindful about how much ‘bad news’ your children are overhearing (news reports, family discussions)
  • It is best to focus on the facts and keep explanations simple, especially for young children. 
  • Children often fear for loved ones. Reassure them that we can look after each other.

5. Acknowledge past trauma and difficulties

Certain events, locations or situations can be a reminder of the past and especially distressing. 

If your current circumstance is causing distress due to past trauma, it can be helpful to think of the differences between now and then. For example, you are in a safe place and in control of the decisions you make in your own home.

Useful resources

The below organisations provide useful mental health resources. You can also contact them if you have a concern or need urgent assistance. 

In an emergency, call 000

24-hour Telephone Crisis Support, phone 13 11 14

24 hour family violence response service for women and children.
Phone 1800 015 188

Beyond Blue
24/7 trained counsellors.

1800 Respect
Sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling, information and referrals. 24/7 Counselling.
Phone 1800 512 348

Black Dog Institute
Resources for understanding and supporting mental health.

Kids Helpline
Help and support for children and young people 24/7.
Phone 1800 55 1800

Windermere Child & Family Services
Windermere offers confidential counselling services for families and individuals experiencing sexual assault and family violence.
Phone 1300 946 337