When we think about being healthy, we often think about eating right, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep, but according to mental health expert Dr Jean Starling, feeling good this year starts with a little ‘attitude’.
Dr Starling is Sydney Local Health District’s acting Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, she says while we all have daily stresses and things that don’t quite go to plan, if we’re able to, being positive as much as possible makes our lives, and our family’s lives, a lot more enjoyable.
“Positive mental health is important for us and those around us because we are calmer and get more pleasure from life,” Dr Starling says.
“We will also have better physical health.”
“Positive mental health is when we are emotionally stable, able to manage our day to day tasks, get pleasure from things we enjoy and generally feel good about ourselves and where we are in the world.”
Sometimes, says Dr Starling, we all wonder whether we can face the day.
“Be kind to yourself.”
She says there are plenty of ways to achieve positive mental health - for the whole family.
“We can try to eat regularly and well, get enough sleep and have regular exercise.”
The busy mum says strapping on a helmet and hitting the road on her bike is something she does with her kids to get happy.
“Cycling is a great way to not only get exercise but also breathe fresh air and see lovely places.”
“Try to say positive things to each other,” says Dr Starling. It’s been said that it takes five positive comments to balance out a negative one.
“It goes hand-in-hand with feeling loved and loving others.”
Reinforcing positive mental health in our children is about rewarding the little moments.
“Make an effort to say thank you for a hug or smile,” says Jean.
“Be really interested in what your kids say. And remember that casual times, such as when you’re coming home from school, are often the window to ask how they are - you don’t necessarily have to have a sit-down deep and meaningful conversation.”
Feeling that you are contributing positively is essential, whether you are growing up, caring for others, studying, working or being creative.
Dr Starling says doing something fun is particularly good for our health and wellbeing.
“Ideally there should be something enjoyable happening every day, even if it is just something simple like watching something funny on TV together, or grabbing an ice cream on the way home from school,” she says.