“Learning mindfulness and techniques to calm myself have really helped me to cope when stressed.”
Good mental health and wellbeing is about more than feeling happy all the time and having positive experiences. It involves many factors that interact in our day-to-day lives.
So, what helps us thrive? It's a mix of things, and it is different for everyone. Physical health, a sense of purpose, feeling connected with others, and feeling safe and supported all play a key role.
Looking after our mental health is an ongoing process. Finding the right balance of elements that help us thrive is something that we can all aim towards – to improve and maintain our mental health.
For more information on general wellbeing, we have pages on connectedness and purposeful activity. We also have resources at the bottom of this page.
A closer look
Internationally Australia rates highly for overall quality of life
In a UN report that measured quality of life on the basis of three dimensions – life expectancy, years of education, and income – Australia came second in the world to Norway. Our life expectancy is 82.5 years, with 85% of Australians perceiving they are in good health. We receive 13 years of education on average, and have a gross national income average of over $58,000. Our overall life satisfaction is 7.3 out of 10, compared with the worldwide average (OECD) of 6.5. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Work-life balance is important to Australians
People indicated in the 'Better Life Index' that what matters most to them is work-life balance, health, life satisfaction, education, and safety, in that order. Other important factors important to those surveyed were community, environment, housing, and income. (Source)
Threats to personal safety increase distress and decrease wellbeing
Analyses of people who endured the Victorian bushfires of 2008 and the Brisbane floods of 2011 found that for those who experienced trauma side effects, recovery from psychological distress can take years. Some people developed delayed onset of mental illnesses (such as PTSD). Bereavement and changes to income and living circumstances affected people’s mental health and feelings of safety after the events. (Source 1) (Source 2)
What we eat affects our mental health
Many studies show there is a strong connection between the quality of our diet and our brain functioning and wellbeing. Diets rich in vegetables, legumes, fish, grains, fruit, and lean meats are shown to increase physical and mental health. Consuming high levels of processed foods or foods high in sugar and saturated fat, while eating small amounts of vegetables, fruits and fibre can, in some cases, affect ability to manage or cope with mental health challenges. Nutrition is, however, only one component of many factors that may affect our mental wellbeing. (Source)
Movement and activity help mental health as well as physical health
Exercise of any kind is important for mental wellbeing, except when advised otherwise by your doctor. Exercise can help to lift mood and improve self-esteem and blood circulation. It can also enhance social connection. Exercise allows our brain chemistry to release chemicals that make us happier and help us rest and relax. Movement can take many forms, whether it is exercise at home, going for a walk, doing yoga, or even dancing. (Source)
It's definitely worth getting involved in online forums to find support. I've participated in a few, and they're great.
Everyone has mental health, good, bad, or indifferent. If you're having a rough time, do something about it. See a doctor.
It's really important to me that I exercise regularly. It helps a lot.
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).