Self-help strategies in action

words by Tackle Your Feelings, Wednesday 10 May 2023

Recently, we reviewed the key findings from the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

The national study was collected between December 2020 and July 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic,  with the findings released in late 2022.

The study found that over two in five Australians aged 16-85 years had experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life, while one in five had a 12-month mental disorder.

The connections people making through relationships, places and social activities can build a safety net for their physical and mental health. The study found that health connections with family, friends, partners and co-workers are known to lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Looking at the self-help responses we focussed on to support mental health, we’re encouraging people to trial their own Big 3 Challenge, whereby they focus on one of the strategies in action each week.

Strategy in action: Exercise

Exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Exercise can also help to improve sleep quality, which is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Additionally, regular exercise can lead to an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as provide a sense of accomplishment and control over one’s body. Exercise can also serve as a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions or life stressors. Overall, incorporating regular exercise into your routine can have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being.

The challenge: 

  • A 20-minute walk to start the day
  • 20 x push-ups every day
  • 3 x exercise sessions per week. At TYF, we love swimming, Pilates, running and, of course, having a kick of the footy with our mates

Strategy in action: Nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in supporting good mental health. Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help to provide the body with the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly, including the brain. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and magnesium have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as fish and nuts, have been linked to a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. B vitamins, found in foods such as whole grains and leafy greens, are important for brain function and can help to reduce stress and improve mood. Magnesium, found in foods such as spinach and almonds, has been linked to a reduced risk of depression and anxiety as well. In contrast, a diet high in processed foods and sugar has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Therefore, paying attention to one’s diet and ensuring it is balanced and nutritious can be an effective way to support good mental health.

The challenge: 

  • Eat a piece of fruit every day
  • Meal prep 3 x lunches per week
  • Aim for 2l of water every day

Strategy in action: Sleep

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining good mental health. During sleep, the brain has the opportunity to rest and recharge, allowing it to function at its best during waking hours. Sleep is also important for the regulation of mood and emotions. Lack of sleep has been linked to a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and irritability. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to cognitive impairments, such as memory and concentration problems. Adequate sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase overall well-being.

The challenge:

  • Put your phone down at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Set a fixed wake-up time for every day
  • Try a relaxing activity before bed to help you wind down: read, stretch, meditate etc.

Want to know more about Sleep? Check out of blog on why sleep is essential for health

Need Support? If you know someone who requires urgent assistance or support, please contact:

Suicide call back service: 1300 659 467

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Emergency: 000

Support for AFL/W Players: If you are a current or past AFL or AFLW Player and would like to know more about our specialised wellbeing and mental health services please contact the AFL Players’ Association at or Tel. 03-8651 4300 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm). Click here to read our disclaimer.