We talk a lot about exercising our bodies- but is it possible to give our mental wellbeing a workout? According to the Inspire Foundation, a not-for-profit youth mental health organisation and one of our Brighter Futures charity partners, just as exercise and a good diet can reduce your risk of health problems, improving your wellbeing can lessen your chance of developing a mental illness.
Mental illness is a silent epidemic in our society; almost half of all Australians experience some form of it in their lifetime. Yet, in a society where we're often too busy to notice how happy or fulfilled we feel, how do we look after our wellbeing?
What is wellbeing?
Mental wellbeing ensures that when you experience tough times in your life you have the tools to deal with issues faster and with less stress. Wellbeing is a construct, not an emotion, defined as a state of lasting contentment and hopefulness about the future.
Improving your wellbeing is simpler than you think. Inspire maintains that you can start today by following the Five Domains of Wellbeing.
1. Have a sense of purpose
Work and day-to-day activities often overwhelm us with a 'mouse in a wheel' feeling of getting nowhere. However, if you work towards a purpose, you can achieve a deeper level of happiness. Ask yourself: What are you working towards? What are your goals in life? What do you love doing that is going to ensure you have a fulfilling and happy life?
Having a sense of purpose is also about looking outside of your wants and giving time or money to those who need it more-there's truth in the saying that giving is better than receiving! Some simple ways to start giving are to use your credit card points to donate to a charity, or put a few dollars aside every week and then donate the sum to charity once or twice a year.
2. Use your strengths
We all have strengths- and we're not talking karaoke prowess! Using your strengths will make you more confident, energetic, happy and positive. Write down your strengths and think of how you can use them at work and in your personal life. Maybe there's a hobby or sport that you used to take part in but have let go. Time to get back into it!
3. Learn new things
Learning exercises your 'brain muscles', making you stronger and healthier mentally. It also increases your motivation and passion for life. Is there something you've always wanted to learn, anything from a second language to scuba diving? If so, start today!
4. Nurture relationships
Our relationships with friends and family (and even pets) make us feel good, help fulfil our need to belong, and provide support during tough times. Also, being there for others improves your own happiness.
You can start doing this by taking stock and thinking of five people who are really important to you in your life and setting up some time in the next month to catch up with them.
5. Track the good stuff
Dwelling on life's negatives can be tempting, but it disturbs your wellbeing. Research suggests that even just reflecting on the good things in life actually improves your happiness. This doesn't mean ignore the bad things: just accept them, learn, and move on with a positive attitude.
Most of these domains boil down to putting your wellbeing at the forefront of what you do every day. Do this and you'll be mentally fitter in no time.