According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost half of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, with young adults most likely to experience mental health conditions in any one year.
To mark World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, we asked clinical psychologist and Headspace App’s Mental Health Expert Mary Spillane for three questions that everyone should ask themselves to assess and improve their mental health.
1. How Do I Feel About The Amount And Quality Of Sleep I’ve Been Getting Lately?
In a surprise to literally nobody, sleep really is important, including for your mental health. “The research indicates that people who are getting quality sleep regularly find it easier to manage their emotions and manage stress throughout the day,” says Mary.
“We know that stress and difficult things can happen, but if you’re going into the day with a good night’s sleep, it can actually help you manage those things.”
For anyone struggling with the duration or quality of their sleep, Mary recommends Headspace App’s sleepcasts, which help facilitate the conditions for a more restful night’s sleep.
2. Am I Making Time For Things I Enjoy?
While everyone's schedules are jam-packed, Mary has noticed that lots of people aren't actually spending time doing the things they love.
"The lack of interest and enjoyment in life has become really pronounced to me," she says. "During the COVID period, a lot of us stopped our hobbies and never actually picked them up again. Now, we’re back out being busy, but we’re not doing things we actually enjoy, that make us feel like ourselves, and align with our identity."
Mary says that spending time on hobbies or interests is great for mental health because it fosters a sense of mastery as you grow and improve. "If something difficult happens, like you’re struggling at work or in your relationship, we know that having something in your life that you enjoy actually helps you manage through those times."
3. How Much Time Do I Spend Worrying About The Past And The Future, Versus The Present Moment?
Getting caught up stressing about past or possible future events can feel unavoidable, but Mary says that quelling that mental noise can be as simple as wholly tuning in to the present.
"We know that spending time deliberately focusing on what you’re doing in the moment can help reduce stress, improve concentration and reduce negative emotions. Whatever is happening in the present moment is enough without having to add all of this stress about things that we can’t control," she says.
Headspace App's Stress and Everyday Anxiety meditations and courses are the perfect foil for when it's feeling challenging to stay present, and the quick meditations might even be enough to break the cycle of stress before it spirals.
Need to take a mental health day? Here's how to ask your boss for some time off.
Mary Spillane is Headspace App's Mental Health Expert. Headspace App helps users create life-changing habits to support their mental health through science-backed meditation and mindfulness tools.
Image Credit: Urban List