How to cope with change
Get useful tools and strategies to help you cope with change and care for your mental health.Read more
Mental health issues are more difficult to acknowledge and address than physical ailments, but the symptoms and the impact on our lives can be just as real. Here MensLine Australia discusses the steps you can take today to realise mental wellbeing.
Good physical and mental health is more than the absence of sickness in our lives.
Wellness is about adopting lifestyle practices that improve our chances of not getting sick or when illness occurs we are in a better place to manage it.
Mental health issues are more difficult to acknowledge and address than physical ailments, but the symptoms and the impact on our lives are just as real. Mental illness is often accompanied by stigma and misunderstanding which results in a person feeling more isolated and alone.
Just as we can take life style precautions to safeguard our physical health, we can also take steps to promote mental wellbeing.
Resist the urge to give up or run away from stressful problems. Avoiding the situation often make stress worse in the long run.
Feelings of sadness, anger, fear and other forms of distress are common when coping with stress. It is more difficult to feel happiness when coping with stress. Try not to bottle your emotions up. Instead, try talking about your feelings or writing them down. Try not to lash out at other people. Many of the coping strategies listed below are also useful ways of managing our emotions.
Seeking social support from other people is helpful, especially when you feel you can’t cope on our own. Family, friends, co-workers and health professionals can all provide support. You can ask someone for their opinion or advice on how to handle the situation.
This is one of the hardest things to do when coping with stress and at times can seem impossible. Dwelling on the negatives often adds to our stress and takes away our motivation to make things better.
Problem-solving the controllable parts of a stressful situation are one of the best ways to lower our stress. A good plan of action can put other tasks on hold to concentrate on the main problem or waiting for the right time and place to act.
Try breaking a stressful problem into smaller chunks:
None of us will cope well if we do not take care of the basics.
Taking good care of ourselves can be difficult during stressful times. If we don’t balance work with play, most of us will experience burn out. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water throughout the day to maintain your energy. Try to exercise or do something active on a regular basis. Try to avoid using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping.
Practice meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques. Take regular breaks from work to maintain your energy level. Plan fun activities and hobbies so you can look forward to them. Get a good night’s sleep.
Family, friends and co-workers can be affected by our stress, but they can also be part of the problem. Keep the feelings and needs of others in mind when coping with stress, but balance them with your feelings and needs.
Accepting things, we cannot change can be the most challenging part of coping with stress. Sometimes all we can do is manage our distress or grief. Denying the problem exists will only prolong our suffering and interferes with our ability to take action. Acceptance is a process that takes time, so be patient. Death, illness, major loss or a life change can be particularly difficult to accept. Try not to get caught up in wishful thinking or dwelling on what could have been.
Distraction can be helpful when coping with short-term stress we can’t control (E.g. reading a magazine while getting dental work done). However, distraction can be harmful if it interferes with us taking action over things under our control. Distraction by using drugs, alcohol or over-eating usually leads to more stress and problems in the long-term. Distraction by overworking can easily lead to burnout or other problems (e.g. family resentment).
If you need someone to talk to, you can call our MensLine Australia counsellors on 1300 78 99 78. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Don’t wait for the person to approach you. Men may be reluctant to seek out help or admit that they are vulnerable.
Some things to look out for include:
When reaching out to someone and engaging their trust, it is important to:
What not to do:
From the time we are born many of us receive instruction from our community about how we should be as boys and girls in the world. We are taught a complex system of beliefs, attitudes, values and assumptions about what it means to be a man.
Within in Western cultures importance is placed on being rational, logical, independent, dominant, competitive, self-reliant, stoic, tough, competent, invulnerable, unemotional and successful, to name a few.
These values are good values. However, when taken as a whole and placed within a rigid framework that says there can be no deviation from this way of being, then there may be physical and mental consequences.
Some of these include:
To better manage our lives, it is important to grow in awareness of those conscious and unconscious influences that shape and mould us.
If you need someone to talk to, MensLine Australia professional counsellors are here to provide information and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This tip sheet was adapted from the work of Lilia Szarski BAMED (psych)Monash Reg Psych Vic./McIntosh J. Because it’s for the kids – building a secure base after separation, Bambra Press, Melb./Family Court resources.