health

"Just say no." 20 women share the simple ways they prioritise their mental health.

When it comes to improving our wellbeing, we often focus on the physical side of things – eating healthy, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water.

But while working on our physical health is vital to our wellbeing, it’s just as important to focus on our mental and emotional health needs.

On top of juggling work, family time and other commitments, carving out time in our daily lives to prioritise our mental health can be a little… overwhelming.

Here’s five simple lifestyle hacks which might help you manage anxiety. Post continues after video.

There’s no right way to practice self-care. From simply cuddling your pet to taking 30 minutes out of your day to spend time reading a book or watching your favourite TV show, there’s so many different ways we can take time out for self-care in our daily lives.

In commemoration of World Mental Health Day, we asked Mamamia readers and the Mamamia office about how they choose to wind down and take time to prioritise their mental health.

Here’s what they had to say:

Meditation.

“I use meditation – even if it’s just a 10 minute one in the car. There are some great apps and I recently treated myself to wireless headphones. I also make sure my husband shares the mental load.” – Janeya.

Sleep

“I like to try and get enough sleep and ensure I have enough time to have a big breakfast and a coffee at a leisurely pace so I’m not starting the day off late, rushed and anxious.” – Bronte.

“I try and do a guided meditation every night to help me get to sleep.” – Isabella.

Exercise.

“Morning exercise is now my non-negotiable every single morning. Sometimes other things get in the way, like my kids or my business but for my mental health, a walk or a bike ride EVERY day just has to happen. Everyone in my family knows it and reminds me to go for a walk before I start stressing about the day. Endorphins set me up for the whole day.” – Yuki.

“Exercise classes like a spin class definitely help keep the head clear.” – Isobel.

“I get up early and take the dog for a walk. It changes your mindset for the whole day. If I was to try and do that later in the day, it wouldn’t happen as once the day starts everything else takes priority. I also always allow myself some time to read or watch TV for a bit before trying to go to sleep to help switch my mind off.” – Tasha.

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“During the work day, I try to get out of the office and go for a walk – especially if it’s sunny.” – Chelsea.

Honor Eastly wants to change the way Australians see mental health and she’s doing so by sharing her story. Post continues after podcast.

“I’m a homebody with generalised anxiety disorder and a four-month-old. I don’t add exercise to my to-do list – I’ve found then it’s like a chore. I just get out and go for a walk with dogs and bubs. Self-care for me is NOT adding another task to my list. It’s switching off and knowing that that’s okay.” – Kaela.

“To get back on track, only do things that make you feel good. If you enjoy being at the gym (it’s not for me), then you need to think of the journey there as a positive. If you enjoy cooking, then make time to do it, but if you hate cooking then enlist help, order pre-made meals to still eat healthy. Once things seem manageable again, then you can try and fit in the stuff you know you should be doing to be healthy. But prioritise happiness and only doing things that make you feel good.” – Sherry.

Downtime.

“The dog is the only reason I get exercise but failing that, I like to curl up with a good book or Netflix. I prioritise my mental wellbeing every day because I am lucky enough to teach casually so I can say no when I need to. If I were working full time, I would probably just stay in a lot and really try and wind down.” – Yaël

“I try and turn off my computer and my phone as soon as I get home from work.” – Rikki.

“I try and do one thing I really want to do that day, whether it’s watching something, reading a book, or eating something I’m craving.” – Kee.

“Find a buddy and go for a walk and chat a few times a week at lunch time. We all don’t have the time but putting it in the diary and making it a priority benefits your productivity and wellbeing. Otherwise, walking meetings are great too rather than coffee catch-ups.” – Sally.

“My partner offers me a quick massage most days. I get anxious quite a lot so I tense up. After a hot shower and a five-minute massage, I feel brand new and de-stressed. I find all the muscles I’ve been tensing have relaxed, especially if we do some deep breathing together.” – Kate.

“Every now and then I go phone-less for extended periods of time. I have taken five-day holidays interstate and not taken my phone because I needed the digital detox. Yes, it can be tricky, but you feel so revived afterwards. It brings me back to the present and reminds me to appreciate the ‘now’. I also delete Instagram regularly – not just the app, but my actual Instagram. Then I’ll go a few months – one time nearly a year – without it. It’s not for self-esteem reasons though, it’s to spend more time on what’s important, which greatly helps my mental health.” – Bronte.

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"Just say no." Image: Getty.

Saying 'no'.

"I say no to lots of things like catch-ups or events where it's going to be troubling to possibly talk about the tough time that you're going through. The exception is if they're people that you find therapeutic, like those in your inner friendship circle." – Anonymous.

"Just say no – whether it's a social event, a family gathering or taking some leave from work – if you need to take some time to yourself, just do it." – Jess.

"I was in a pretty bad place and basically prioritised my mental health over money by going part-time for two months. It’s made a world of difference – I had time and space to get on top of things that were troubling me and I was able to start setting up some good routines." – Emily.

Time with pets.

"Just spending time with my dog – looking into his eyes, playing with him, making him hold my hand etc." – Clare.

"I have 'walk the dog' listed on my to-do list every single day. It forces me to always take some time out in the morning to do it and most weeks, I stick to it at least five days at week. Even on the days where I really can't be bothered, I always feel so much better afterwards – and I'm sure my dog does too." – Jess.

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14. Kid's Helpline is also available on 1800 551 800.


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