Healthy Minds

Did you know that 1 in 5 people will experience symptoms of a mental illness in any year and that is over 5 million here in Australia alone? And over half of those who experience a mental illness will not seek assistance. Black Dog Institute

Just like our physical bodies, we also want our minds to be healthy, free of disease and disorder. While we know what we need to do to build a healthy body, do we know what we can do to build a healthy mind?

When we build a healthy mind we find we enjoy and participate in life as we wish. We can utilise our resilience skills to manage difficult experiences and adapt to adversity. Building a healthy mind is also about accessing appropriate support when needed and actively choosing activities to assist us.

Below are some resources and tools to assist staff on how to build a healthy mind.

Building healthy minds

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  • Managing stress

    The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James

    Stress is a reaction, it is feelings or concerns that arise within someone when something we care about is at stake. Stress and meaning are linked; if we don’t care about the issue or the person then we tend to experience lower stressors. For instance if you are caught in traffic when you are in cab while on holidays you will not feel the same levels of stress as if you were stationary in traffic on the way to an important meeting. Stress can help us engage with and adapt to life, it can clarify our values and priorities and can help us rise to a challenge.  It creates learning and growing and can be a catalyst for building and strengthening social connections. 

    There are many different types of stress, some include everyday life hassles and some are caused by the long term effects of trauma.  We say we are stressed, we are stressing out or something stresses us. But what happens if we change the way we view stress? What if we view stress as the body’s way of managing something that we care about?

    Tips to manage stress

    • Take action to give you a better sense of personal control. Acknowledge your emotions and the source of your stress, look for solutions and keep to daily routines. Try a problem solving mindset.
    • You may need to accept that there are some things you cannot control but try to face these with a positive attitude.
    • Try stress management skills such as mindfulness, gratitude or deep breathing.
    • Keep healthy and safe, exercise daily, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, get enough sleep. Avoid using alcohol or drugs to lessen stress.
    • Avoid behavior that may increase stress levels such as news stories, social media or other stress-inducing information.
    • Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create further stress in your life.
    • Seek assistance if you need help to manage stress. This maybe the EAP, your GP or UniCare, or a psychologist.
  • Building resilience

    Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.Nelson Mandela

    Resilience is your ability to cope with tough times by applying your inner strength and engaging your support networks. It involves being able to withstand and overcome adversity and unpleasant or difficult events successfully, and to be able to adapt to change or uncertainty.

    Resilience enables you to better cope with challenging situations and helps with your mental wellbeing. You already have skills and support networks that help you to be resilient. The great news is that you can continue to build your resilience, it is a work in progress. It is important to note that resilience is not stoicism. Tough mindedness and persistence is important however continuing to push ahead despite the effects on your health, your relationships or performance is detrimental.

    To build your resilience

    • Know your strengths and personal values and keeping them in mind.
    • Be emotionally aware and taking time to notice your feelings.
    • Find purpose and a sense of belonging in what you do.
    • Stay optimistic and solution focused. Reframe your setbacks and minimise negativity around you. Utilise your coping strategies (mindfulness, gratitude, etc).
    • Build your self-esteem — have confidence in your abilities and the positive things in life.
    • Build healthy relationships and social networks.
    • Know when to ask for help and feedback. When you are able to, support others who are struggling.
    • Manage your stress and anxiety levels.
    • Work on problem solving skills and coping strategies.
  • Adopting mindfulness

    Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.Buddha

    Mindfulness is the act of paying attention, noticing what is happening and pausing before reacting. It is being present in the moment. 

    Mindfulness practices

    Free mindfulness apps

    or you can pay a small free for apps such as Headspace , Buddhify and Simply Being (Apple /Android ).

    Mindfulness is the act of paying attention, noticing what is happening and pausing before reacting.  It is being present in the moment.  There are various mindfulness practices that can include breathing practices, loving kindness practices, mindful eating and mindful movement.  In addition there are free apps such as Insight Timer , Smiling Mind , Stop Breathe and Think , Calm and UCLA Mindful , or you can pay a small free for apps such as Headspace , Buddhify and Simply Being (Apple /Android ).

    Mindfulness is the act of paying attention, noticing what is happening and pausing before reacting.  It is being present in the moment.  There are various mindfulness practices that can include breathing practices, loving kindness practices, mindful eating and mindful movement.  In addition there are free apps such as Insight Timer , Smiling Mind , Stop Breathe and Think , Calm and UCLA Mindful , or you can pay a small free for apps such as Headspace , Buddhify and Simply Being (Apple /Android ).

    Mindfulness is the act of paying attention, noticing what is happening and pausing before reacting.  It is being present in the moment.  There are various mindfulness practices that can include breathing practices, loving kindness practices, mindful eating and mindful movement.  In addition there are free apps such as Insight Timer , Smiling Mind , Stop Breathe and Think , Calm and UCLA Mindful , or you can pay a small free for apps such as Headspace , Buddhify and Simply Being (Apple /Android ).

  • Cultivating gratitude

    Gratitude is a sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation of life.  While we often focus on things that are going wrong, cultivating gratitude is a tool that allows you to think about what went right.  To gain the most from gratitude it is best to do this in a formal practice.  You may like to keep a gratitude journal, do your gratitude practice just before falling asleep or do this as a family at a meal time.  If you like you can choose to complete a simple written gratitude practice. Remember to think about three things that went well today.  It may be events that happened, something you did well, goals you have achieved, individuals who care for you or who you care for or something beautiful you experienced whether from a loved one or total stranger or maybe it was something from nature.  Why did it go well?  How did you or others in your life contribute to the good thing that happened?  How did you feel?

    The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.Dalai Lama

    Gratitude is a sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation of life.

    While we often focus on things that are going wrong, cultivating gratitude is a tool that allows you to think about what went right.  To gain the most from gratitude it is best to do this as a formal practice. You may like to keep a gratitude journal, do your gratitude practice just before falling asleep or do this as a family at a meal time. If you like you can choose to complete a simple written gratitude practice.

    Remember to think about three things that went well today. It may be events that happened, something you did well, goals you have achieved, individuals who care for you or who you care for. It could also be a beautiful experience, whether from a loved one or total stranger or maybe it was something from nature.  Why did it go well?  How did you or others in your life contribute to the good thing that happened?  How did you feel?

    Gratitude is a sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation of life.  While we often focus on things that are going wrong, cultivating gratitude is a tool that allows you to think about what went right.  To gain the most from gratitude it is best to do this in a formal practice.  You may like to keep a gratitude journal, do your gratitude practice just before falling asleep or do this as a family at a meal time.  If you like you can choose to complete a simple written gratitude practice. Remember to think about three things that went well today.  It may be events that happened, something you did well, goals you have achieved, individuals who care for you or who you care for or something beautiful you experienced whether from a loved one or total stranger or maybe it was something from nature.  Why did it go well?  How did you or others in your life contribute to the good thing that happened?  How did you feel?

  • Random acts of kindness

    When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it also helps us to develop inner happiness and peace.The 14th Dalai Lama

    We have seen all round the world small acts of kindness which have lifted the spirit of those watching. We saw people coming out of the homes at a set time to clap the front line staff, people singing from balconies, choirs of thousands forming online and kindness shown to neighbours and communities.

    You may like to write and post a letter to a friend, send a loving text to a friend, check in on your neighbour, share your baking and home cooking with an older family member, pay for an extra coffee when you collect your own coffee or any other way that you can see to help someone.

    You can also recognise a colleague by using the online Recognition form. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way!

  • Developing a growth mindset

    Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’Audrey Hepburn

    A growth mindset is when we believe our abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning and persistence. However, a fixed mindset, is when we think our intelligence and abilities are a fixed trait (e.g. we are born with a fixed level of intelligence). The good news is that it is possible to develop a growth mindset.

    A growth mindset assists us to embrace challenges, persist during setbacks and take responsibility for our own actions or words. It allows us to build new skills, to grow in what we are doing and achieving and view challenges as opportunities to learn. 

    Tips to develop a growth mindset

    • When a challenge arises try to view it as an opportunity to grow as a person.
    • Accept imperfections in ourselves and others. These help to make us unique but they don’t limit our abilities.
    • Pay attention to your own words and thoughts. Look for the negative message that plays on repeat in your head, especially when things don’t quite go right. Replace that negative thought with more positive thoughts and rather than judging yourself accept yourself for who you are.
    • Provide your own approval and not constantly seek it from others.
    • Remember that your brain has the ability to change and make new connections. This is called neuroplasticity.
    • Focus on the process as well as the result. Sometimes we don’t achieve what we set out to achieve.  However when we consider what we have learnt, we realise we have improved ourselves, even if it is how not to do something next time!
    • Reward the effort and actions that went to achieving the outcome, rather than the trait. For instance a child has studied hard and achieved a good mark you would say "I know how hard you worked for this result. Well done!" rather than "What a great grade, you are so smart!". It is about rewarding the effort that went into an activity rather than the outcome. This assists in building resilience.
    • Be open to constructive feedback and learn how to give as well as receive..
    • Learn the power of not yet. When you are struggling to achieve a goal it is important to re-frame what you are thinking to be ‘You are not achieving it yet’. The magic of yet is that there are still possibilities, you can still achieve it!

Wellbeing health check

The University Health Practice in collaboration with UoA have made available Wellbeing Health Checks for all eligible UoA staff members.

Find out more

Building resilience training

Building resilience training

Webinars for staff and managers will explore a range of practical ideas and techniques to help build resilience and deal with stressors in a positive and healthy manner.

Find out more

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The University of Adelaide support staff and their families by providing access to two Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service providers, offering you a choice of providers and locations across Adelaide. 

Healthy minds support

Staff

Students

Support for all

External mental health resources

Further information on mental health advice and support