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7 Tips for Improving Your Mental Health

7 tips for taking care of your mental health while living with disability

Posted by Emily Erickson Feb 2021

Taking care of your mental and emotional wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical health, especially for people living with a physical or intellectual disability. 

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that an estimated 36 percent of people with severe or profound disability self-reported that they had mood disorders such as depression, compared to 8.7 percent of people without disability.

Some factors that can contribute to higher levels of mental health conditions in people with disability include: 

  • social exclusion
  • financial hardship
  • loss of independence
  • bullying or discrimination in the workplace or social situations
  • ill health or going through multiple medical procedures 
  • issues with self-acceptance
  • coming to terms with an acquired disability

There are many things you can do to help prevent or manage mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.


7 Tips for improving your mental health 

1. Make your health your top priority 

Focus on taking care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels through meditation, self-care activities or taking intentional deep breaths throughout the day.


2. Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t

Negative thoughts can drain your energy and the more you give in to them the stronger they become. Try to change your thinking into positive thoughts, focus on opportunity and the things you have achieved instead.
Spending your time and energy recognising your strengths and what you are capable of will give you a greater sense of control and boost your self-esteem. 

3. Ask for (and accept) help from a professional or your support people or social network

It’s important to remember that accepting help doesn’t make you ‘weak’. If you’re struggling, consider talking to a professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist who could help you develop a mental health care plan, or reaching out to close friends and family.
Sharing your worries and fears with someone you trust rather than keeping it inside can often provide relief. A professional or your support person may be able to help you develop tools and strategies to work through your struggles.

4. Don’t compare your life to others’

As the popular saying goes, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. Everyone is going through their own struggles, successes, and failures, so you can never truly know everything that is going on behind the scenes. Use other people’s experiences and success as inspiration instead of measuring your own life against theirs. Recognise what you have achieved on its own merit and not how you compare to others.


5. Get outside 

Walking, riding or simply sitting outside in nature is an easy way to reduce anxiety and clear your mind. Getting some fresh air and being surrounded by nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of psychiatric conditions.


6. Take some time out

If you feel like life is getting on top of you and you're unsure how to break out of this, consider booking a short break or respite stay away from home. 

A change in environment, surroundings and routine can refresh your mind, introduce you to new people, or break any bad habits you might have recently formed. 


7. Try new things

Research has shown that finding something to look forward to helps people cope with everyday struggles. Finding a new hobby or rediscovering an old passion that you love doing or gets you involved with your community may give you a renewed sense of purpose. 
This could be volunteering, picking up a paint brush again, learning a new language or taking care of an animal. Finding activities that you enjoy will improve your mood and give you something to look forward to.

Need help?

There are a range of mental health supports accessible through your doctor, Australian Government-funded services, Medicare, or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). 

Alternatively, you could access mental health helplines and support organisations such as Lifeline (13 1 14) , Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) or Headspace. 

If you don’t currently receive NDIS supports and live with a psychosocial disability or mental illness, you may be eligible for the NDIS. Click here for more information on eligibility.

If you are an existing NDIS participant, your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or Support Coordinator can help you understand what supports are available.


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