Top 10 tips for improving mental health

Improving mental health

This year’s Queensland Mental Health Week takes place from October 5-13, surrounding World Mental Health Day on October 10.

With one in every two Queenslanders experiencing mental illness in their lifetime, it’s important to focus on not only on physical health, but how to cope with everyday life mentally and emotionally.

Cancer Council Queensland’s Nurse Counsellor Lucy Bailey put together her top tips for improving your mental health ahead of World Mental Health Day (October 10).

For specialised support for coping with a cancer diagnosis, please call 13 11 20.

  1. Be active. When you exercise your body releases stress-relieving hormones.  Physical activity can be an effective way to “burn off” the effects of stress and lift mood.  Start slowly and be kind to yourself – gradually build up your endurance.
  2. Go to bed on time. Research shows that good sleep habits improves our mental wellbeing.  Try going to bed at a regular time and build good habits into your sleep routine like turning off screens at least an hour before bed.
  3. Make some time for you. The busyness of life can squeeze out time for the activities that help you to unwind and recharge.  Create spaces in each day to stop the busyness and just “be”!  Think about the activities that help you to relax and feel good and make time to do them.
  4. Deal with unhelpful thinking. The way we think about a situation often adds to our stress.  Take a step back and look at the problem from a different viewpoint.  This can help us keep our reactions in check and cope better.
  5. Take a break. Take a break from what’s causing the stress. Sometimes doing a simple breathing exercise can help: Close your eyes and breath in to the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, and breath out for the count of 6. Repeat this breathing pattern about 10 times.
  6. Build a support circle. Develop a support network around you, people you can open up to. It may include a trusted friend, your doctor, a work colleague. Talking to others can help you to make sense of how you are feeling.
  7. Eat healthy. Healthy food gives our body the fuel to better cope with the demands of life. Take steps towards a balanced diet and limit caffeine and alcohol.
  8. Practice gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to improve well-being and mental health. To increase feelings of gratitude, write a list of things that you are grateful for or keep a gratitude journal.
  9. Be kind. There’s good evidence that being kind to those around us boosts our mental well-being.
  10. Live in the present moment. Focusing on the here and now can help you to let go of worries of the past and about the future. Start a simple practice of bringing awareness to day to day activities such as drinking a cup of tea or taking a walk.
Cancer Council Queensland Lodge

Support for coping with cancer

You don’t have to face cancer alone – we’re here to help.

We have a range of professional services and support programs here to help you.

We also offer information sessions throughout the year across Queensland that provide coping strategies for those affected by cancer.

This World Mental Health Day (October 10), Cancer Council Queensland is holding five events simultaneously across the state aimed at those impacted by cancer and their loved ones.

The series of free events, ‘Take time for yourself – improving and maintaining mental health’ will focus on ways people affected by cancer can prioritise their mental health and implement coping mechanisms into their daily lives.

Cancer Council Queensland’s psychologist Dr Keely Gordon-King will be the key speaker at the information session and her presentation will be followed by a talk by a cancer survivor and Cancer Council Queensland volunteer, Garth Stephens.

The information session will be held face-to-face in Brisbane, with live webcast of the session (webinar) available across Queensland. The webinar will allow for those unable to attend in person access this event via a computer, tablet or smartphone.

In addition, three satellite events will be held in Toowoomba, Townsville and on the Gold Coast, where locals are invited to watch the webinar together, followed by an opportunity to chat to the local Cancer Support Coordinator about Cancer Council Queensland’s support services.

Reserve your space at the webinar here or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information and support.

For crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.