A doozey of a topic… I am lucky to have access to great information and discuss this ALL the time with a few friends who work in the sector. One in particular is bravely undertaking a PhD to look at the particular effects of mind-body exercise on mental health notably how our type of exercise can alter the structures of the brain and therefore the mental health landscape.

Here’s what I have come to understand … for positive mental health we need to look at strategies which include typical, divergent and progressive constructs. We must accept that there are some people with robust mental health and are in a pleasant mood frequently and others who are clinically unwell. 

We have come such a long way in understanding mental health, mental illness and the spectrums on which they sit, but I’m always a bit miffed when the first response from any Government is to reach out to a crisis call centre. 

Let’s talk briefly about some of the many ingredients that can improve our mental health on a daily basis. For a moment, let’s not include the big ticket items of exercise, nutrition and sleep. Let’s even pause our knowledge of the social determinants of health theory (look it up!)….

On a daily basis, can we improve our own mental health and wellbeing by examining and refining how we interact or communicate within society? 

Could you imagine if we valued emotional intelligence, effective communication and conflict resolution as much as sport in Australia?

Emotional intelligence

Developing your interpersonal skills, being able to read the room and communicate accordingly can help you to feel heard, avoid conflict and seek harmony in your relationships.

The five key elements of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman (an American psychologist who helped to popularize the term emotional intelligence) include

  • Self-regulation
  • Self-awareness
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Effective communication 

This incorporates all modes of communication including the non-verbal. Consider how you interact on digital platforms as well as chatting with friends or colleagues.

Effective communication strategies are based on empathy, targeting your message and ensuring you listen to your pal.

A big part of a healthy exchange is managing your own stress and ‘feelings’ so that you are clear with your communication rather than clouding it with history and past unresolved conflict.

Communicating effectively allows you to deal with life in the moment, to express yourself clearly, fully and releasing the tension you may have been holding on to. 

Conflict resolution

Learning the key elements of peaceful conflict resolution can be a game-changer.

For those of us who identify as naturally deeply sensitive and ‘over-emotional’, conflict is tricky. Ignore it? Avoid it? Feel very unsure of how to participate in conflict resolution or feedback at work? Many of us are learning how to construct healthy boundaries and to operate in respect of them.  Whether you agree with your communication partner or not on the nitty gritty, if you respect your personal boundaries and work to ‘clear the air’ your mood and health will benefit no end.

Advice from the experts… 

Don’t ignore the conflict, spend time identifying the issue and then attempting to find a meaningful solution within your boundaries and values.

So let’s Press pause on demonising social media and technology …. and held the space to consider other important concepts that have immense power and come from within.

If psychology services and counselling could help you, bring it up with your GP and arrange a mental health care plan through which you’ll receive subsidised counselling and care sessions with a psychologist of your choice. 

Switchboard – caters to the LGBTIQA+ community 

Beyond Blue 

Head Space

The black dog institute