Mental health self-care

Good mental health involves managing your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Incorporating self-care strategies into your everyday life can benefit all aspects of your health.

If you are worried about your mental wellbeing and would like to chat to someone, call our confidential 24/7 support line on 1800 377 700.
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Look after yourself

Self-care strategies include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • making sure you have regular physical activity and exercise
  • maintaining a well-balanced diet
  • keeping stress levels at a functional level
  • practising mindfulness
  • ensuring you have some ‘down time’ and relaxation, and
  • keeping socially connected with your community, colleagues and friends.
Not all strategies help

It can also be helpful to be mindful of your negative coping strategies. These could include turning to addictive behaviours like increasing alcohol or drug use, gambling or overeating — behaviours that can vary from person to person.

Breathing relaxation

Here is a breathing relaxation exercise you can try:

  • sit (or lie) down and close your eyes, or let your eyes rest on an object in the room
  • inhale deeply and slowly, while counting to four
  • exhale slowly, counting to four
  • inhale deeply and slowly again as you count to four, then hold your breath for two seconds
  • exhale slowly, counting to four
  • repeat inhale and exhale cycle for several minutes, and relax consciously
  • as you inhale, imagine yourself in a safe, comfortable, beautiful place, continue to breathe as you hold the image in your mind, feel how relaxed you are, and
  • when you are ready, become aware of yourself in the room once again, wriggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes.
Muscle relaxation

When you feel stressed, your muscles might feel tense making it hard to relax. Try this progressive muscle relaxation technique to get your body to relax:

  • rest your arms by your side, and close your eyes
  • inhale as you count to four, and exhale as you count to four, until your mind is quiet and you feel calm
  • as you continue to breathe slowly, tense each muscle group for 10 seconds (don't tense so much that you feel cramp or pain), then relax for 10 seconds, starting with your:
    • feet: curl your toes, then relax
    • calves: tighten your calf muscles, then relax
    • thighs: tighten your thigh muscles, then relax
    • buttocks: tighten your buttocks, then relax
    • stomach: pull your tummy in, then relax
    • chest: breathe in deeply, then breathe out and relax
    • hands: clench your hands into fists, then relax
    • lower arms: bend your hands up at the wrists, then relax
    • upper arms: bend your arms up at the elbow, then relax
    • shoulders: lift your shoulders up, then relax
    • neck: roll your neck gently to the left, then the right, then forward, and relax
    • jaw: clench your teeth, then relax
    • forehead and scalp: close your eyes tightly, then relax, and
    • eyes: raise your eyebrows, then relax
  • continue slow, controlled breathing for five more minutes, and enjoy the feeling of relaxation, and
  • when you're ready, have a good stretch and bring your awareness back into the room.
What can I do next?

Read some of our other articles on staying healthy:

Our service provides free and confidential support to dental practitioners and students Australia-wide. If you would like to speak to someone call us 24/7 on 1800 377 700 or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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