Staying well is something that we need to work on constantly, from eating well in order to avoid catching a cold to recognising the early signs of anxiety or depression and seeking help early. There are a range of things which a person can do to keep themselves well and most of them are easily added to the daily routine. Some aspects may require more focus and discipline like concentrating on study, reducing smoking or exercising more. A trip to the doctor may be needed if you are experiencing psychological distress and they can prepare a Mental Health Plan and refer you to a psychologist.
The following information is designed to give an insight to what works and the last two pages are there for you to write your own wellbeing plan.
Part 1. Physical Wellbeing
Sleep – Barriers to effective sleep
“Light cues the brain to stay awake. In the evening, lights from televisions, mobile phones and computers can prevent adequate production of melatonin, the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) responsible for sleep.”[i]
Sleep chart – current v desired
|Current Sleep pattern||Desired Sleep patterns|
|Lead up to sleep:||All the lights are on.Online till lights out.Checking||Dimming Lights, switching off laptop/phone/TV|
|Duration:||4-6 Hours||7.5-9 Hours|
|Waking frequently||Checking Twitter/Facebook for new updates. Wishing friends were online for chat.||Turn off the phone. Sleep all night|
Diet – Alcohol Avoidance
“Alcohol avoidance means reducing or stopping drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a typical depressant drug and being drunk may cause temporary depressive symptoms. Heavy drinking can also cause unpleasant life events, like job loss, which can lead to depression. For these reasons, it may be helpful to avoid drinking alcohol when depressed.”i
“For women and men:
- Drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces your lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury
- Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion”[ii]
Cost is just one way to motivate yourself to cut down. Below is a table in red being the current situation (theoretical) and the desired state in green.
Alcohol consumption chart – current v desired
Life Expectancy is another motivating factor. This tool will give you a possible life expectancy based on your current behaviours. http://tinyurl.com/mgkajlc
Diet – Caffeine:
“Too much caffeine can cause and amplify feelings of anxiety. Try replacing every second drink with water.”[iii]
Diet – Food
“Are you eating enough to fuel your mind? Are you eating so much you feel tired or guilty? Try to eat breakfast, followed by healthy and regular meals. Don’t let your mood dominate your food choices.”i
Diet – Folate
“Folate is a nutrient found in a variety of foods or in dietary supplements, usually as folic acid. Folate may be helpful for depression when taken with antidepressants. There is not enough good evidence to say whether folate works as a treatment on its own.”i
Diet – Omega-3 fatty acids (Fish Oil)
“Omega-3 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats. The two main types are eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in fish oil or can be made in the body from the oil found in foods like flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil. There is research linking lack of omega-3 in the diet to depression. Omega-3 supplements are available from health food shops and pharmacies.”i
“Yoga is an ancient part of Indian culture. Most yoga practised in western countries is Hatha yoga. This type of yoga exercises the body and mind using physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation.”i
“There have been two good studies of massage in depressed adolescents. One study in depressed adolescent mothers compared massage to relaxation training and the other study compared massage to watching relaxing videos. Both studies found that massage produced a greater improvement in depression symptoms 30 minutes after receiving a massage. The study did not look at the longer-term effects of the treatment.”ii
“Physical activity is increasingly being recognised as a key to managing moods. Next time you feel angry or frustrated, try letting it out with vigorous exercise. “i
Part 2. Psychological /Social wellbeing
Sometimes it can be hard talking about mental health problems which is one reason it is important to have a good social network. Friends, family and colleagues all have different roles in our social networks. Each person may be helpful in different ways and you cannot always rely on one person to meet all of your needs. Sometimes it can be difficult to get in touch with someone late at night or the people you rely on heavily stop answering text messages or phone calls because they have reached their limits of helping. Consider 5 people who you might be able to talk to in a situation when you are feeling vulnerable. Write them in the circles below. Write the names of these special people don’t just write ‘My Doctor’ or ‘My Sister’. Keep this somewhere handy and when you are feeling isolated and alone you can refer to it, you may need to add more names as you work through recovery.
Break up the monotony
“Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule.”[iv]
Do something new which is not related to your work or study. Learn to paint/draw/sing/play a musical instrument. Do a crossword, grow a garden or something you have never done before. This can be rewarding, enjoyable and you may meet new people and make friends.
Volunteering can be a great boost for self-confidence, may help in combating depression and studies have shown that people who do volunteer work have lower mortality rates. Help others and feel good about yourself at the same time.[v]
“If you were to start a physical exercise routine, you would start with small amounts of exercise at one time. Similarly, when you start to develop skills to concentrate, start with short periods – maybe 10 minutes. The most important thing is to set a time and stick to it. If your mind wanders off (to the shopping list, or next week’s touch football game) bring it back to the task. Do this gently – you don’t need to criticise your mind or be irritated.”[vi]
- “Feeling down/anxious/unmotivated/depressed – talk to a counsellor and/or see a doctor.
- Feeling bored – think about why you are doing your study. Is your study a means to an important end for the big picture you have of your life? Should you consider a change of subject? Speak with the sub-dean or visit the Careers Centre.
- Don’t try to study on your bed (you’ll find you doze off when you’re wanting to study and stay awake when you want to sleep). “ii
Seek help when you need it. Seeking help is a sign of strength and the earlier you seek help the better the outcome. You can get help in a range of ways like talking to a friend or colleague then following up with a visit to t GP, counsellor, Psychologist or a range of other professionals. A GP is often a good place to start.
“CBT is one of the most common treatments for depression. People undertaking CBT work with a therapist to look at how their patterns of thinking (cognition ) and acting (behaviour ) are making them feel depressed, or are keeping them from recovering from depression.”[vii]
“IPT is a type of counselling that focuses on problems in personal relationships and on building skills to deal with these problems. IPT is based on the idea that problems in personal relationships are an important part of the cause of depression. It is different from other types of therapy for depression because it focuses more on the person’s personal relationships (e.g. with friends, intimate partners, teachers, parents, siblings) than what is going on in the person’s mind (e.g. thoughts and feelings).”i
Problem Solving Therapy (PST)
“When people are depressed, they often feel that their problems can’t be solved because they are too difficult or overwhelming. This will sometimes lead to people either ignoring their problems, or trying to solve them in unhelpful ways. PST helps people to break out of this pattern and discover new, more effective ways of dealing with their problems.”i
Learn how to deal with stress:
“Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.”iv
Well Being – Personal Health Plan
A well-being plan can help people who are dealing with an illness or who just want to make positive choices about their health and help to prevent further episodes.
|Positive Mental Wellbeing||Goal Setting|
|Things that will keep you well[viii]
||In order to achieve an ultimate goal, it is important to make small steps towards it. If these steps are small and simple, then the ultimate goal will seem much more achievable.
From the previous points mentioned what things can you change or add to your current lifestyle?
Early Warning Signs
I can now identify early signs that tell me I am becoming unwell again. These are:
When I notice these signs, I will do the following:
(for you to complete with local contact number)
|Crisis Assessment & Treatment Team||1800 number: 1800 629 354Phone: 02 6205 1065||http://health.act.gov.au/c/health?a=sp&pid=1316133581&site=51107&servicecategory=37|
|Psychological Well-Being||My Care Plan – What can I do?|
Adapted from Changing Minds Centre (http://www.changingmindscentre.co.uk/
[i] Teenagers and sleep, Better Health Channel, [online] http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Teenagers_and_sleep
[ii] Safe Drinking guidelines, Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education [online] http://www.fare.org.au/education-resources/drinking-guidelines/
[iii] Managing Moods, ANU Counselling Centre
[iv] Ten Things you can do for your mental health, University Health Service, University of Michigan http://www.uhs.umich.edu/tenthings
[v][v] Helpguide.org [online] http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm
[vi] Concentration, ANU Counselling Centre
[vii] What works for depression in young people, Beyond Blue
[viii] Making it Possible: Improving <Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, National Institute for Mental Health in England [online]