In recognition of mental health week, the annual awareness campaign, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to check in and see how you are feeling. According to the World Health Organization, good mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
When I was single, I felt like this was doable. Fast forward to becoming a parent and I felt incredibly overwhelmed very quickly. I couldn’t understand how I could successfully manage an event for hundreds of people, sometimes thousands involved, with various logistics to coordinate, and I’d be fine. And then suddenly this mini human that has been entrusted to me, has me second guessing my decisions, lying awake at night with various concerns about his wellbeing. Six years on, and for sure I am not as overwhelmed but I certainly don’t believe parenting is easy street. It can be the most challenging part of my life. Therefore I really believe that making our own mental health a priority – is vital.
Did you know mental health is more about wellness rather than illness? I learnt this whilst working with the Lifeline WA marketing team. I remember hearing the statistics on a regular basis in the office and thinking surely the statistics can’t be right. The numbers of people in Australia experiencing a mental illness is quite high. Too high. Did you know suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents? It’s not a good scenario at all. However, together we can change the statistics.
Before I go on, I must make clear that I am not a professional in this area whatsoever. I am merely just passionate about seeing people take care of their wellbeing and being aware that there are far more options available to them then taking their own life.
I find it really interesting that when taking a flight, the air host will always tell you to take care of yourself first, by ensuring your oxogen mask is on securely before helping those around you, including your children. Whenever I am on a flight, listening to the air crew’s instructions, I use this as a reminder to remember me. Yes me. It sounds silly I know, however since becoming a parent I naturally think of my boys first. What do they need? What do they want etc But, hey what about you me? And how about you, beautiful Mumma? And how about you ‘Dad of the year’? We need to take care of ourselves it’s vital for our wellbeing, it will have a direct impact on our little ones. Yes, please read that sentence again, that’s why I highlighted it. You are important, and deserve to be taken care of. Feel free to stop and ponder that. You are important, very important. Precious in fact, more valuable than you will ever know.
Mental Health Australia created a postcard a couple of years ago, providing ten tips to help maintain mental wellbeing. I have hung onto it, and have it posted on my fridge as a regular reminder of taking good care of myself. The ten tips are:
- Sleep well
- Enjoy healthy food
- Plan and prioritise your day
- Tune in to the music you love
- Cut down on bad food and booze
- Switch off your devices and tune out
- Hang out with people who make you feel good
- Join in, participate and connect
- Exercise your body and mind
- Seek advice and support when you need it
I find it quite interesting but also amusing that sleeping well is first on the list. I know, firsthand that I can be the most delightful person to be around with six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Anything less than that, then I suggest we skip our catch up. I will most probably be wearing my grumpy pants, and no-one has time for that. I completely understand sleeping well can be really difficult to achieve considering the season we are in with little ones who don’t always stick with a 12 hour sleep regime. Can I encourage you to rest when you can, even if it is sneaking in a 20minute nap throughout the day, or retreating to bed a little earlier. You will thank me for it tomorrow morning. I promise.
When we are armed with a good night’s rest, healthy meals, some great tunes playing, and beautiful friends by our side, we are in a good place to help others. Just like the hostie said: take care of yourself first. So why not read those ten tips to help maintain mental wellbeing again, and see if there is one. Yes, just one, that you think you could work on making better. For me it will be number nine. You can hold me accountable if you like.
If you are finding a part of your life overwhelming, I encourage you to talk to someone. A friend or a family member you trust. You can talk to your GP, they are used to recognising and treating common problems, including depression and anxiety. Know that there is ALWAYS someone to talk to at any time. If you would like to talk to someone right away, I recommend you call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Together we can help each other. Lets change those outrageous statistics. I encourage you to make your own mental health a priority. I encourage you to check in with friends and family on a regular basis to see how they are doing. You can also seek advice and support from your friends, family, your GP or calling Lifeline or Beyond Blue. We have a bright future ahead, especially with those beautiful little ones by our side, lets enjoy the journey with a healthy wellbeing.