MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK | THE BASELifestyle
18 September 2023
Five days to show your mental health a little more love..
Our mental health is a fundamental aspect of overall wellbeing, closely tied to our physical health and quality of life. As the Mental Health Foundation says: “There is no health without mental health”. I’ve always loved this reminder – for me, strain on my mental health shows up in unexpected tiredness or a mild (but annoying!) headache. These signs remind me to put a little love into my mental wellbeing – much like the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week every September.
This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is “Five Ways, Five Days,” with each day reminding us of five simple, but really powerful things we can do to improve our mental health. Let’s take a look!
Monday: Take Notice | Me Aro Tonu
The first day of Mental Health Awareness Week encourages us to “Take Notice” and it’s one of my favourites – probably because I’m guilty of being ‘plugged in’ at all times. This concept revolves around mindfulness – the practice of being fully present in the moment. By paying attention to the present, we can reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and find a sense of calm in our busy lives. Try:
- Meditation or deep breathing exercises (I love the peaceful and grateful focus of https://www.allright.org.nz/tools/hikitia-te-ha).
- Taking a nature walk.
- Sitting and waiting without phones or other distractions.
- Taking a solo break at a café and putting your phone down to notice the warmth, aroma and taste of the coffee and enjoy watching people walking past.
- Mindful shopping – walk slower, looking store windows you don’t usually notice to see colour, texture and fun trends – or head inside your favourite fashion store and really notice the colours and textures of the season
Tuesday: Give | Tukua
On Tuesday, we focus on “Give” – acts of kindness, altruism, and generosity. Research shows that acts of kindness not only benefit others but also boosts our own happiness, life satisfaction, and overall wellbeing, fostering a sense of connection and purpose in our lives. At home, try:
- Taking the time for a long overdue catch up with a friend or visiting an older relative for a cup of tea.
- Whipping up some delicious baking for your workmates.
- Taking the kids on a rubbish collection walk at the beach.
- Random acts of kindness – shouting a stranger their coffee or letting someone go in front of you at the checkout (or in the carpark).
- Voicing the compliments that usually stay in your head when you see someone looking amazing, rocking a beautiful smile, or doing a great job.
Wednesday: Be Active | Me Kori Tonu
“Be Active” on Wednesday – this theme emphasises the importance of physical activity for our mental health as well as our physical health. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals in our brains, which can elevate our mood and reduce stress. Why not try:
- A brisk walk in the Spring sunshine.
- A yoga session with a friend.
- An at home dance party with the kids.
- A window-shopping walk – or parking further from the doors than usual.
Thursday: Connect | Me Whakawhanaunga
“Connect” takes centre stage on Thursday, highlighting the importance of nurturing meaningful relationships – which are at the heart of our well-being. When we feel seen, heard, and understood by others, we experience a profound sense of belonging and happiness that is really enduring and also supports our mental wellbeing during harder times.
- Remember to connect offline as well as on – pick up the phone or catch up in person.
- Touch base with older relatives and say hi to your neighbours.
- Catch up for a coffee (maximum connection in minimal time for busy lives!) and if there’s a little more time to be had, head to the movies.
Friday: Keep Learning | Me Ako Tonu
Friday: Keep Learning | Me Ako Tonu
The week concludes with “Keep Learning”, another favourite of mine! New experiences, fresh interests and learning new things not only gives us a surge of achievement and confidence but exercises our brain, enhancing creative, problem-solving skills and curiosity. Why not:
- Head into Whitcoulls and step outside your reading comfort zone, grab some non-fiction or find a new recipe book to inspire you.
- and my daughter has been a great fan of the craft kits available there too.
- Or learn and experience something new for free… The Base sits on land with quite a history and, when building the shopping centre, this history was acknowledged in design features that highlight its connection with Te Awa Waikato and it’s surrounds, traditional fishing practices and even the beauty of the sunlight filtering through the tree canopy onto the river surface. Check it out before you go here: https://www.the-base.co.nz/en/taonga-trail/ or look for the Taonga Trail signs (there’s one at the main entrance of Te Awa) with information at the click of a QR code.
Mental Health Awareness Week’s “Five Ways, Five Days” theme serves as a valuable reminder that nurturing our mental health is an ongoing process. By embracing mindfulness, kindness, physical activity, social connection, and lifelong learning, we can build a strong foundation for our mental wellbeing. My takeaway? Mental wellbeing doesn’t have to be hard work – tiny bites every day make for a life that is healthier and happier and works the way you want it to. I’ll be getting into “Five Ways, Five Days” and finding the habits that I love to carry into my daily life.