What is self-care?
In a general sense, self-care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. There are many ways to do this and self-care is something that can be personalised for every individual.
Self-care can also be about processing emotional reactions to life and doing things that we might find difficult, like asking for help.
Being mentally healthy and living well is important to every single one of us – whether we are living with a mental illness or not. It’s about enjoying life and fulfilling your potential. It’s having the ability to cope with stresses and sadness, and it’s about being connected to friends, family, community and culture.
Why is self-care important?
Mental health and wellbeing is important to individuals, families, schools, workplaces and communities. There is a role for everyone to play.
Some of the benefits of self-care include:
- greater capacity to manage stress
- increased resilience
- reduced symptoms of mental health problems
Taking time for self-care is not always easy, but doing something small each day, week or month is a good start.
Ways to look after yourself
- Be active and eat well
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Monitor and manage your stress in positive ways
- Limit the use of alcohol and other substances
- Nurture and maintain your personal relationships
- Connect with others to keep strong
Time for you
- Make time for interests and things you enjoy
- Get involved and join a group with common interests
- Learn something new to help build you confidence
- If you have spiritual beliefs, make time for regular spiritual practice
- Connect with others who share your philosophy
Asking for help
Reach out for support when you need it. Everyone needs support from time to time. Talking to a family member, a friend, your doctor or one of the many services available can make all the difference.
"It can be so easy for us to take our mental health for granted; to prioritise other things; to put it off until next week. It can also seem too big and too hard. But it’s not. There are some things everyone can do."
Additional resources - online self-help programs
Mind Health Connect
Mind Health Connect provides a list of research tested and clinically sound online programs aimed at helping people deal with their mental health issues and promotes eTherapy and self-care.
Beacon is a portal to online applications for mental and physical disorders. Reviewed and rated by a panel of experts, websites and mobile applications are listed, including the evidence that supports their efficacy. Reviews of internet support groups are now also included.
ReachOut for Professionals
ReachOut for Professionals provides an easy to navigate portal for apps and online tools - particularly suitable for youth. It covers mood disorders, anxiety disorders, wellbeing and less common mental health issues.
Apps and tools
The BRAVE program is an online self-help program that contains both resources and information for children, teenagers and their parents. It is designed specifically to help young people with anxiety overcome their worries and improve the quality of their lives.
E-couch is a free, open-ended interactive self-help program with modules for depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief. E-couch presents users with a range of different skills to access depending on what feels right for them.
Mindspot has free, structured eight-week courses for Australian adults with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression, post-traumatic stress, and obsessive compulsive behaviours. Users have access to assessment with therapist feedback, an 8-week online or postal therapy course supported by telephone or email guidance from a therapist, and help finding local services.
MoodGYM is a free, structured five-module course covering information, assessments, self-help skills and exercises. Designed for people experiencing symptoms of depression; has also been shown to assist in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
MyCompass is a free resource for all people with a focus on building resilience and good mental health providing tips and exercises to maintain good mental health. There are also modules on mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression.
OnTrack has free online programs for alcohol and depression, alcohol, odd experiences, supporting someone with a mental illness, flood and storm recovery, health and mood support for people with type 2 diabetes.
THIS WAY UP
THIS WAY UP has a range of self-help courses for worry and sadness, stress management and shyness. Plus a 6-week clinician-assisted course for anxiety and depression (for a small fee) which can be accessed with a referral from your GP. Go to the Take a test page, to get started.
The ToolBox app allows young people to work out health and wellbeing goals, then download recommended apps for each goal and read reviews by health professionals and young people.