How to take care of yourself: Mental health and wellbeing
Looking after yourself or self-care refers to choosing to engage regularly in activities and practices that maintain and enhance your health and wellbeing. Activities like going for a walk, having fun with friends and family, or doing something you enjoy, helps alleviate stress by giving your body and mind time to rest, reset, and rejuvenate.
Looking after yourself makes you more effective, because when you rest, eat well, and exercise, you bring more balance to your life. Joining a local or digital support group can provide you with a sense of community during difficult times.
Worry and anxiety have negative effects on our mental and physical health. Triggers for both emotions include: the new, the unpredictable, and situations which are unclear.
If any of these situations sound familiar, taking steps to regain some certainty and balance could help your self-care.
Perhaps, you have debts, or your finances are causing you concern. There are steps you can take to reduce the anxiety this may cause.
Start by speaking with your lender and utility providers. You may find they have solutions which can help. There are also government debt counsellors who can help you work through financial issues and formulate a plan to meet your commitments.
Our Customer Support Package may also be helpful by providing you with financial assistance.
Managing your finances during crisis
Part of looking after yourself is ensuring you understand your financial position and how to deal with the issues you may face. It may not feel relevant sitting down to consider your finances but being on top of them is part of regaining control of your life.
For financial education and help, Westpac’s Davidson Institute has a number of online tools, including financial literacy webinars, budgeting tools and calculators aimed at financially educating yourself.
Financial self-care helps you identify where you can make changes.
Two steps you might start with are cost-cutting and budgeting.
- If you’re finding your income has been impacted, then our Cost-cutting checklist (PDF 216KB) may help. You can identify where you’re spending and where you may be able to save and ease some of the strain on your finances. Not all the items identified on the Checklist will suit your situation and some may have a bigger impact on your ‘bottom-line’ than others, but cost-cutting is a step you can take to regain some control.
- Once you’ve had a look at the ways you might be able to reduce your costs and save, the next step is to put all the figures into a tool such as our Budget Planner (PDF 82KB) to help you see the big picture. Understanding what you have in savings and income and what your outgoings might be, may help you plan more effectively.
Managing stress during COVID-19
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by worry and anxiety, seek help early - it may stop the situation getting worse. You might decide to talk to someone you trust to get a different view of the situation and your options. If you’re having any changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, consult your GP or doctor.
Mental health care plan
A mental health care plan is put together by you and your doctor and identifies the mental health services you may need to access. It may include referrals to mental health professionals.
A mental health care plan sets out what you and your doctor are aiming to achieve within a particular time frame.
Looking after yourself during and after a crisis has four critical stages: assessment and acceptance of your situation; the formulation of a plan for recovery; putting the plan into action and integrating it within your life, and finally, moving yourself and your resources back to a ‘new normal’.
You and your loved ones – working together
Natural disasters or crisis can place a greater strain on relationships. Interrelate, a not-for-profit organisation providing relationship services in the community, has developed specific resources to support you and your loved ones during these times. They include strategies that can reduce stress and boost well-being; coping with grief and loss; and a Creating Positive Relationships tool, developed by Interrelate in partnership with Westpac. The tool helps couples to have positive interactions and healthier conversations when discussing finances in their relationships.
Mental Health Support Services
If at any stage looking after yourself feels like a struggle, we encourage you to seek assistance. Here are some mental health services working online and in the community.
The Black Dog Institute provides online and clinical support for people experiencing mental health and well-being issues. The organisation’s Online Clinic has been created by clinicians and is based on research. The free mental health assessment tool is suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who is worried about their mental health or wants a better understanding of their mental health. Find out more about what is involved. For people under the age of 18, Black Dog Institute’s Bite Back Mental Fitness Challenge is a free, self-guided online wellbeing and resilience program for people under 18 years old.
Beyond Blue and Headspace have a number of resources you can explore. For those under 18 years of age, Headspace has a youth focus and online tools aimed at helping younger people.
Lifeline can be contacted for support online, and by phone on 13 11 14.