Mental health vs mental illness
Let's explore the differences and how they intersect
Maybe you’ve started a new job with increased responsibilities. Maybe you have a big life event coming up. Maybe you’ve just got a lot on your plate. Whatever the reason, we all feel overwhelmed from time to time.
Sometimes, channelling our inner Taylor and being able to shake it off is easier said than done. But the good news is there are a few simple yet effective things you can do to relax, refocus and improve your mental wellbeing.
To coincide with Mental Health Month, we asked nib mental health nurse Jo Baja to share her top tips for helping you feel more zen in as little as five minutes.
Self-care in challenging times is crucial. So, it’s ironic that when we’re feeling out of control, self-care often takes a backseat. We all process our emotions differently, so regularly checking in with your body and mind could make all the difference.
According to Jo, a few helpful questions to ask yourself include:
When it comes to improving your mental wellbeing, mindfulness takes the cake. Keeping cool, calm and collected is crucial, but how exactly do we achieve this?
“Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment and being intentional about what you’re doing,” says Jo. “Intentional breathing is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, and there’s no easier way to relax your mind, than by taking a few long, deep breaths.”
To bring some calm into your day, take time to breathe in and out while focusing on the rising and falling of your chest. And, don’t be fooled into thinking that improving your mental health can only be achieved when you’re in a quiet room all by yourself - Jo says another great time to explore mindfulness is when you’re going for a walk.
“To anchor your mind, make a conscious effort to feel the ground beneath your feet with every step or focus on the different sounds you can hear.”
Sometimes you have to take a break from the outside world in order to reconnect with your inner self
Are you scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning and last thing before bed? If so, maybe it’s time for a digital detox. A Lonergan Research study revealed we’re in front of a screen for more than one third of our day on average.
In fact, we’re spending more time with our electronic devices than we are eating, commuting, working and exercising combined. Jo explains the best way to combat this is by setting technology-free time.
“Sometimes you have to take a break from the outside world in order to reconnect with your inner self. Being glued to technology can take us away from being aware of what is actually happening around us,” she says.
“Try to disconnect for the first hour after you wake up in the morning and for the last hour before you go to bed. This can allow you time to engage with people at home or time to simply connect with yourself.”
By combining these three tactics the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll be on your way to a calmer and more-centred version of yourself within minutes.
Keen to read more advice on how to reduce stress and improve your overall mental wellbeing? Check out our Mental Health Month series.