Veterinary Chris Hong
Director, Registered Psychologist
Veterinary Chris HongVeterinary Chris Hong
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Just like with our physical health, most of us struggle with our mental health at some stage in life. Even if you’re not struggling currently, you can do some simple things that can improve your overall mental health and well-being.

1. Get outside

Most of us are so busy working long hours and trying to be there for our families, we often neglect our own self-care. Sport, exercise & gym are all great outlets whereby you can take some time out and improve your physical and mental health. Yet many people either don’t enjoy these or 'don't have the time'. The good news is even a
10-20 minute walk a day can alter your brain chemistry and put you in a different mindset. Think of something realistic that can get you out of the house, at least 3-4 times per week; maybe you can walk the dog more often, take the kids to the park or even dust off those jogging shoes.

Challenge: Find something you can do to break up your daily routine, commit to doing it 3-4 times in the next week and see how you go! 

2. Review your sleep routine

Two in five Aussies don’t get enough sleep; yet many of us spend the last 1-2 hours before bed watching tv and/or scrolling through social media. Good sleep is an essential foundation to good mental health. Set a challenge for yourself and go to bed 30 minutes earlier for the next week. Make it a rule not to use your phone in bed and don’t have any screen time (tv or devices) an hour before bed. Use the time to read a book or just connect with your partner.
Chances are your mornings will be less stressful and you’ll be better prepared to face the day ahead!

Challenge: No screen time in bed & go to bed 30 minutes earlier for the next week.

Up to 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns that lead to fatigue and irritability which puts them at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health and unsafe behaviours.

3.  Food & Drink

Emerging research is showing that what we consume, impacts our mental health. Try not to drink caffeine after 2pm, limit your sugar intake (if it’s in the cupboard, you’re going to eat it), don’t drink more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks on weeknights and make sure you’re hydrated -  a lot of the time when we feel hungry or are craving a snack, we’re often dehydrated.
How much water are you drinking each day?

Challenge: No caffeine after 2pm and ensure you’re drinking at least 2L of water each day (more if you’re exercising).

4.  Make a list

We’re all extremely busy and can often struggle to switch our minds off. Yet we need to prioritise our time to ensure we’re not neglecting those important things in our lives. Write a list and amend it each morning, two columns: ‘Things to do today’ & ‘Things to do someday’. Whether it’s work or domestic tasks, this will help you better prioritise your time, enable you to become more efficient and ensure that the ‘things to do someday’ tasks don’t keep you awake at night or take you away from your precious family time.  

Challenge: Write a ‘things to do today’ & ‘things to do someday’ list and update it daily.

See if you can commit to at least one of the above challenges for a week and notice the results!

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