It is OK not to be OK.
This year has been like no other we have ever experienced; with the Covid-19 pandemic bringing about a significant rise in mental health concerns around the globe.
Mental illness can affect anyone, at any age, from any background or socio-economic status and with 1 in 5 Australians affected, it is highly likely that someone you know may be suffering (often in silence) from one of the many mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, dementia and schizophrenia amongst them. Mental Health matters and it is important, now more than ever, for us to take care of each other and ourselves.
With October being Mental Health Awareness month, we explore some ways we can fill our lives and the lives of our loved ones with positivity and health.
Laugh, Love, Listen
There is no truer saying than “laughter is the best medicine”. It is not only fun to laugh; having a good ol’ laugh can also have a positive impact on your health and mental well-being. With many documented health benefits, laughing increases our oxygen intake, which, in turn, stimulates our heart, circulation and allows our muscles to relax. The release of feel-good neurochemicals, dopamine, helps to lower cortisol and promote an anti-anxiety and calm affect.
For a good laugh, we can recommend grabbing tickets to one of the hilarious shows at The Comedy Lounge. And if you aren’t up for heading out, watch one of the many stand-up comedians available on a streaming service such as Netflix or Stan
Similarly, showing and receiving love can help lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety. Healthy relationships with loved ones can abate feelings of loneliness, which can have a significant impact on mental health. Spending time and listening to our loved ones can redirect our own internal thoughts and allow us to focus externally.
So grab a loved one and enjoy a good laugh together.
Relax, Recharge and Reignite
In an era where we are all so busy with day-to-day life, setting time aside to relax and recharge is important for self-care. When we feel stressed or anxious, our blood pressure increases, which in turn increases our heart rate; this is known as a stress response. Practicing relaxation techniques can help to lower this response and the anxiety that comes with it. When we relax, we reduce the stress-hormone, cortisol, increase blood flow around the body, improving core functions and allowing us to recharge.
Meditation is a fabulous way to switch off from the world and relax. Research suggests that beginning the day with a guided meditation can be beneficial to mental well-being. There are many guided meditation apps available to download to your phone. Our favourite meditation apps are Smiling Mind, Headspace and Calm.
The practice of Yoga, in particular Hatha Yoga, can be another great way to relax. Residents at The Richardson enjoy their weekly stretch and relaxation classes, which are amongst many of the physical activities on the lifestyle calendar. To find a local yoga class near you, check out this list of yoga schools around Perth.
We all have different ways of relaxing and recharging; for some it may be going for a walk in the fresh air, for others it might be cosying up in a sunny corner with a cup of tea and a good book. Set aside some time to find out what might relax or recharge you and reignite your zest for life – your mind and body will thank you for it.
Share, Socialise, Smile
Humans are social beings and whilst alone time can be helpful to relax and recharge, keeping the company of (the right) people can have a positive impact on ones’ mental health. Published research suggests that healthy relationships and social interactions can boost confidence & self-esteem, promote a sense of purpose and improve longevity.
At The Richardson, our residents have many opportunities to socialise in our central communal hubs and during various social events held throughout the month. Our home has various spaces, internally and a beautiful sun-filled garden courtyard to entertain family and friends.
If you’re not up to entertaining loved ones at home, get a group together for a fun-filled quiz night. Find one near you here. An evening socialising and sharing fun experiences with friends is bound to put a smile on your dial.
Exercise, Energise, Empathise
Did you know that showing empathy can lower stress? The ability to show empathy means that we are emotionally in-tune, able to regulate our emotions and thus, better placed to handle stressful situations. When we can regulate our emotions, we are able to relate to others in a positive way, thus instilling a positive effect on our own mental well-being.
Keeping our bodies active is not only important for our physical health, exercise is critical to keep our minds healthy too. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins – our happy hormone, which can help to lift mood and reduce pain, resulting in an increase of energy and feelings of well-being.
Studies show that daily aerobic or strength training exercise can not only energise us, it can play a key role in reducing cognitive decline. Engaging in exercise increases our oxygen intake, allowing the body to pump blood around the body, to the brain and other vital organs, energising us.
Residents at The Richardson are fortunate to have an on-site wellness centre where they can partake in a combination of small group classes and one-on-one sessions, in our very own gym, with Physio and Occupational Therapists who tailor exercise rehabilitation programs for each individual, helping to improve balance, strength and functionality.
If you are looking to partake in some exercise, whether that might be strength training, yoga or even a dance class, Classpass allows you to find a class near you.
Unlike a physical illness which can be seen, mental health is often a silent affliction. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others, for you never know what struggles people are dealing with.
Give yourself permission to relax, recharge, laugh, socialise, exercise and energise without feeling guilty. You can’t be there for your loved ones if you don’t take care of yourself first.
There are many support services available if you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness. Black Dog Institute or Beyond Blue are there to help and if you need to speak to someone, Lifeline WA have a fantastic anonymous support service for people dealing with crisis – 13 11 14.
If you wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, or would like to book a tour through The Richardson, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800 or book a tour online.