The Act-Belong-Commit

Guide to Keeping Mentally Healthy

The Act-Belong-Commit Guide to Keeping Mentally Healthy

Who is this Guide for?

This Guide is designed for a broad audience of people, including people who are already mentally healthy, but simply want to learn more about keeping that way; people who feel 'just ok' or a 'bit down' and want to enjoy life more or find more meaning and purpose in life; and people who have – or have had – a mental illness or mental health problem and who are looking for positive ways to build their mental health in addition to any medication, counselling or treatment they might be receiving. Whatever your reasons, we hope you find this Guide helpful.

The Purpose of the Guide

The purpose of this Guide is to help you build your Act, Belong and Commit levels to protect and strengthen your mental health and wellbeing. This will help you cope better with problems and stress and will help you feel better about yourself, your life, and other people. And, as our TV ad says "you'll simply feel happier too".

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Supported by Lottery West

Mentally Healthy WA would like to thank Lotterywest for supporting the development of this Guide.

Getting Started

Before getting into the tips and activities for Act-Belong-Commit, have you done the self-assessment?

The assessment is a short questionnaire to measure your wellbeing, and how much you currently Act, Belong and Commit in your everyday life.

By completing it you can see what areas you might need to do more in. You can then measure your progress over the coming months by re-doing the questionnaire.

No. I need to complete the self-assessment
Yes! I have completed the self-assessment
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Act-Belong-Commit: What is it all about?

It's about keeping mentally healthy by keeping active, keeping up friendships and connections with others, and engaging in activities that provide meaning and purpose in life.

Act-Belong-Commit is a community-based health promotion campaign that encourages people to be proactive about their mental health and wellbeing. Just as there are things we can and should do to keep physically healthy, there are things we can and should do to keep mentally healthy. These are summed up in the three words Act, Belong, Commit.

Click the 'continue' button to work through the guide.

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Act: What does it mean?

At a basic level it simply means "Do Something".

You can keep physically active in any number of ways – by taking a walk, doing some gardening, kicking a footy, going for a swim or cleaning the shed.

You can keep socially active by talking with salespeople while shopping, saying hello to your neighbours and maintaining contact with family, friends and workmates.

You can keep mentally active by reading a book, working on your car, doing a crossword puzzle, going to the movies or visiting a museum.

You can be spiritually active by attending religious services, engaging in meditation or prayer, experiencing the wonders of nature or practicing tai chi or yoga.

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Becoming more physically active

Any physical activity is great for your mental health (and your physical health). You don't have to go to a gym or exercise class, you can be more physically active simply doing regular everyday activities.

Get started

Think of 3 or 4 physical activities that you enjoy doing, would like to try doing, or would like to do more of and write them in the spaces below.

Which of these would you find easiest to fit into your daily routine?

Pick three days on which it would be easiest to try it out.

Tip

Get active outdoors

There are increased mental health benefits from being active outdoors, especially in natural environments. So keep that in mind when you need that extra boost.

Ideas to be more physically active

  • Leave the car keys on the hook and walk or cycle to the shops.
  • Kick a ball in the park with your kids or throw a frisbee.
  • Turn up the music, sing along and dance.
  • Hop off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • If you work in an office, take a break from your desk and walk over to speak to your colleague instead of emailing them.
  • Plan active outings such as swimming, bush walking or bike-riding.
  • Get your mates and kick a footy around over the weekend.
  • Join a walking group.
  • Wherever you can, take the stairs instead of a lift or escalator.
  • Take up gentle exercising like tai chi.
  • Tidy up the garden regularly.
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Becoming more socially active

Sharing the good times and being supported in the not so good times is what friendships are all about. 'Friends are good medicine' is indeed a scientific fact - and having close friends is very good for our mental health and wellbeing.

Even just being around other people whether at work, amongst crowds at sporting or music events, in shopping centres or at the movies seems to satisfy an in-built human need.

Get started

Make a list of activities, each separated with a comma (,), that you enjoy doing with someone or a group.

Now choose one to do next week, make time to fit it into your schedule and put it in your diary.




Get re-connected

List some of the people who have been important to you in the past, for example old school friends, work colleagues, previous neighbours, long lost cousins.

Who would you like to re-connect with or see more of? Why not look them up (try Facebook, Google or a mutual friend) and suggest meeting for a coffee or meal or something you both would enjoy doing, and find a time when you can do them together.




Ideas to be more socially active

  • Acknowledge people you walk past with a friendly smile or a hello.
  • Interact with sales assistants and ask them how their day has been.
  • Spend some time with a person over the age of 70 or under the age of 6 to get a different perspective.
  • Learn the name of someone you see regularly, such as at the post office, in your local coffee shop or pub, your child's friend's parent, or your pharmacist, and introduce yourself.
  • Make the effort to keep in touch, respond to emails, reply to text messages, acknowledge missed phone calls and get back to people.
  • Then using social networking sites provide positive comments and praise friends' successes.
  • Ask friends to introduce you to other friendship circles. This can introduce you to new activities and places you can share with existing friends.
  • If you are already physically active try being active in places that increase your social interaction, for example, in an exercise group or in a popular park. This allows you to be both socially and physically active.
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Becoming more mentally active

Learning something new or solving a puzzle contribute to feelings of self-confidence and a belief in one's abilities, which are good building blocks of mental health and wellbeing.

Get started

Think of a time when you could do some activity that requires thinking and concentration.

This could be learning something new or doing something you are already interested in.

Tip

Try things that you think enjoy - not just any old thing.

Pick a day and give it a go this week.




Tip

Think of mental activities that will benefit other areas of your life—such as finding healthy but tasty recipes, or basic accounting and budgeting.

Be curious

One way to increase our mental activity is to be curious about things: How did they do the special effects in that movie? Where does that road lead? Who invented that? Why do dogs sleep so much? What's in that recipe? How does a car engine work? These days the internet can be a great help, but so can browsing through your local library.

Ideas to be more mentally active

  • Read a book, a newspaper or a magazine.
  • Learn to operate a new device—like a computer, smartphone, the internet.
  • Do a Sudoku, crosswords, daily teasers or quizzes.
  • Teach something you are good at to a friend, relative or neighbour.
  • Learn something new— a language, how to cook, how to change the tyres on a car.
  • Visit a museum.
  • Get creative: paint, draw, take photographs, make scrap books.
  • Start a blog about something you are passionate about.
  • Write down important, funny stories to share with others or younger family members.
  • Watch something educational on TV like a documentary, or a history or geography channel, or have a look at TED.com for the latest new ideas from around the world.
  • When watching a quiz show, try answering the questions or remember the facts and share your knowledge with someone else.
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Becoming more spiritually active

Having a sense of spirituality helps people keep things in perspective, provides hope in times of need, relieves stress and can have social benefits. While the term spirituality can mean something different to different people, engaging in some form of spiritual activity contributes to mental health and wellbeing.

Being spiritually active can be done through formal religious activities or in non-religious ways, such as spending time in nature, meditation, yoga or creative practices.

Get started

Now think of some other ways you could be spiritually active, with or without other people.

Select one or two and pick a day to try them out:


Ideas to be more spiritually active

  • Belong to a faith and take part in services or other activities with other people.
  • Go on a retreat.
  • Spend time in meditation and prayer.
  • Read scripture.
  • Listen to singing or music.
  • Engage in reflection (contemplation).
  • Try yoga, Tai Chi and similar disciplined practices.
  • Spend time enjoying nature.
  • Spend time in contemplative reading (of literature, poetry, philosophy etc.).
  • Appreciate the arts.
  • Be creative - in painting, sculpture, cookery, gardening etc.
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Finished the Act Section

You should now have a good idea of what you could do to keep more mentally healthy. In the sections below, type a brief summary of what you plan to do over the next 3-4 weeks.

When you have finished, print this out or email it yourself. What also helps is to tell your friends, workmates or family members what you intend to do. Making our goals public helps motivate us to achieve our goals.

Act


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Additional Act information

  • Shape up Australia

    Health campaign promoting a healthy active lifestyle. Includes 'swap it' tips and an activity finder.

  • 10,000 steps

    Health promotion campaign that encourages you to monitor and log your daily physical activity levels; includes health and physical activity information, workplace challenges, and an online community.

  • Mind your Mind

    Health promotion campaign providing scientific evidence, practical advice on dementia and resources to keep mentally healthy.

  • Department of Culture and the Arts

    Initiatives and partnerships to develop arts and culture in the community.

    • Visit: dca.wa.gov.au
    • Phone: 1800 199 090
    • Email: info@dca.wa.gov.au
  • Country Arts WA

    Provides advice and information to regional artists and community groups

You can find events and groups by looking in:

  • Community newspapers
  • Community notice boards
  • Local library
  • Local government offices website
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Belong: What does it mean?

Belonging to groups, whether formal or informal, large or small, local or even international, contributes to our identity, our sense of who we are.

You can belong to all sorts of groups such as a sports team, a car club, a book club, a group of friends in your street, your local community or an online community. Feelings of belonging are particularly important in schools and workplaces.

New arrivals, whether from overseas or other parts of the country, often lack family support and old friends. In these cases new connections can be made at the workplace or the children's school or by linking up with other recent arrivals in various cultural or other associations.

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Belong more with friends and family

Who would you like to see more often? Perhaps there is someone from your past or present job or school that you would like to spend time with doing things together.

Get started

Consider starting an activity night or morning, like a movie night, games night, cooking night or cards night.



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Belong more by attending community events

What sorts of things go on in your local suburb or community? Markets? Swap meets? Music concerts? School fairs? Arts or theatre events?

Get involved

Visit your local community centre, or look in your local newspaper or the community notice board at your shopping centre, or the local library or on the internet for an upcoming community event that you think you might like to attend.

Write it down in your calendar to make sure you don't miss it.




Tip

If you're a bit shy, or even if you're not, invite a friend, family or neighbour to attend with you.

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Belong more by joining a club or group

What are you interested in or would like to become interested in? Could you attend current groups more often? If you are from overseas, perhaps you would like to join an ethnic or cultural group.

Get started

Write down some activities that you would like to do, used to do or already do:

Visit the Act-Belong-Commit "Find Activities" tool or do your own research to see if there are any groups or clubs doing the activity you like. Collect all the important details and make an enquiry.

If you already belong to a group or are a member of an organisation, could you be more involved? The deeper your involvement, the stronger your sense of belonging to the group.

If you already are involved in a group, have you thought of getting a friend you know is lonely to join in? What about asking a friend to involve you in some of their social or community groups?

Tip

If there isn't a group in your area, why not start your own? If you join a new group, research shows it's important to keep attending.

Tip

After about seven appearances, you will be feeling like a regular.

Clubs you might like to join

  • Scrabble, Bridge, Chess or Bingo group.
  • Car club, footy club.
  • Book club, choir, dinner, music or theatre group.
  • Nature and conservation group.
  • Cycling, swimming, dancing or walking groups.
  • Volunteer organisations, e.g. Salvation Army, the Samaritans, the Red Cross charity and fundraising groups.
  • Service clubs like Lions, or Rotary.
  • Ethnic or cultural clubs.
  • Men's Shed
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Finished the Belong Section

You should now have a good idea of what you could do to keep more mentally healthy. In the sections below, type a brief summary of what you plan to do over the next 3-4 weeks.

When you have finished, print this out or email it yourself. What also helps is to tell your friends, workmates or family members what you intend to do. Making our goals public helps motivate us to achieve our goals.

Belong


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Additional Belong Information

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Commit: What does it mean?

Commit refers to doing things that provide meaning and purpose in our lives. These can range from successfully completing challenging tasks to volunteering and doing good deeds for others.

Doing something that we are proud of, even if it's just fixing a toy or repairing a chair or baking a great cake, builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Doing something for others provides extra feelings of satisfaction.

Helping other people who are disadvantaged in some way has special returns. We not only feel good about helping such people but we learn to put our own problems into perspective and be thankful for what we have.

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Taking on more personal challenges and goals

Is there a new skill you would like to learn?

Have you ever wanted to play a musical instrument, cook food from other cultures, grow a vegetable patch, learn carpentry or how to speak another language?

If you already engage in a lot of activities, perhaps you could set some goals to make these more challenging.

Get started

Make a list below of the new things you would like to learn or list some activities you already do and set yourself a challenge or a goal. Then set a start date.




Tip

As you think about how to Commit more, keep in mind how these activities help you to Act and Belong. For example, if you already Belong to a group could you make this a Commit activity by taking on a committee position, such as treasurer or secretary.

Ideas for taking on new challenges

  • If you play an instrument, try practicing a new piece or set yourself a goal to perform this piece at an ‘open mic’ night, as a busker at a community event, or perform a free concert at an aged care home.
  • Think of a project you would like to do – like a home or garden improvement project, or restoring some old furniture or an old car.
  • Do you want to learn to paint or make a sculpture? Ask a friend to teach you or enrol in a course and set yourself a project to complete with this new skill.
  • Try to make what you already do more challenging by setting yourself some goals, entering competitions, or trying something new.
  • Raise money for a charity whilst doing something challenging and fun.
  • Learn a language, a musical instrument, or to sing.
  • Learn how to better use the computer.
  • Take up painting, sculpting, sewing, needlework, or knitting.
  • Learn welding or wood work.
  • Enter a sporting event that involves training such as a trek, marathon or fun run, swimming or cycling event, or a tennis match.
  • Take up bike riding, dancing.

Tips for setting challenging goals

  1. Take your time to think of a challenge that excites you and write it down as a goal. Make sure to include what you want to do, when and where you will do it, how long it will take, and what you need to achieve it.
  2. If you feel your goal is too big, break it down into smaller daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
  3. Put your goals on the fridge or the mirror and tell a friend. This will increase the likelihood of you achieving your goals.
  4. Keep at it! Challenges aren’t meant to be easy, and they will take time. Keep a diary or log book to keep track of your progress.
  5. Reread your goal from time to time and adjust your goal if you’re finding it too easy or too hard.
  6. Celebrate! Once you have achieved your goal, it’s important to celebrate and reflect on the feelings you experienced while you worked towards the goal and how you feel now that the goal has been achieved.
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Committing more to groups you are already a member of

Are you are already a member of a group?

Do you have the time to get more involved with this group? Look below for some ideas on how to commit more to your existing groups:

  • Attend more regularly
  • Become a committee member, president or vice president
  • Take minutes at the next meeting
  • Organise and lead a group session
  • Manage the budget
  • Do the catering at the next function
  • Build the membership
  • Help out with the admin

Get Started

Think about the areas where you would like to help out or skills you have that could be an asset to the group.

Write them down and select one or more to try.

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Commit more by volunteering or taking up a cause

Volunteering for a cause or to help other people provides meaning and purpose in life and a stronger connection to the world, to humanity, and even to our spiritual side.

Organisations, charities, and groups need people to help out in a number of different roles, including administration, general maintenance, or even cleaning or baking. Think about your own skills and things you already do at home, at work, for your family or children, or for fun and how you might be able to do these things for the benefit of others.

Get started

  • Start local. For example, could you volunteer at your child's school canteen?
  • Try approaching local community groups or organisations, your local library, hospital, or church.
  • If you're passionate about a particular cause, join an advocacy group or action-group with similar values to your own.
  • If you have come from overseas, perhaps you could draw on your experiences to help more recent arrivals settle in.

Think of some ways you could volunteer your time and type them down below:

Tip

When you commit to volunteering, other people will rely on you so it's important to realistically consider how much time you are able to give.

Tip

Do not overload yourself. If you find that even after giving something a good go you are not enjoying that activity or can't keep up with other commitments, let it go and try something less demanding or more to your liking.

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Helping people out and 'acts of kindness'

Think about your friends and people in your street or apartment block. Could you offer to help in any of the following ways?

  • Offer to help with someone's shopping
  • Visit a sick friend, relative or neighbour
  • Cook something for a neighbour
  • Offer to look after a friend's children
  • Offer to mow your neighbour's lawn
  • Visit someone who may be lonely

Get started

Try doing a small act of kindness this week.

Write down what it was that you did and how it made you feel.



Ideas for 'acts of kindness'

  • Let someone in front of you in a queue
  • Let one car in on every journey
  • Pick up litter as you walk
  • Treat a loved one to breakfast in bed
  • Buy fruit for your colleagues
  • Send someone a 'thank you' when they least expect it
  • If there's time left on your parking ticket, give it to someone else
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Finished the Commit Section

You should now have a good idea of what you could do to keep more mentally healthy. In the sections below, type a brief summary of what you plan to do over the next 3-4 weeks.

When you have finished, print this out or email it yourself. What also helps is to tell your friends, workmates or family members what you intend to do. Making our goals public helps motivate us to achieve our goals.

Commit


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Additional Commit Information

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What Next?

Congratulations on getting thought the Act-Belong-Commit online Guide to Keeping Mentally Healthy.

In the future

After a month or so, go back and do the Wellbeing questions again and the Act Belong Commit questionnaires to see whether you have improved your activity levels in each section.

Keep on trying. Changes in activities take time and effort. If you find your activity levels falling back, take time out to think about why. Then when you feel you are able, set new goals and try again. The more times you try and succeed even a little, the more likely you will eventually succeed.

Let us know how you go

We would love to hear from you about your attempts, your successes, your failures, your inspirations and your disappointments, how you put the Guide's advice into practice and how we could improve the Guide.

Use our Facebook and tell your story. It just might inspire someone else to try and do things to keep mentally healthy.

You can also phone us on (08) 9266 4648 or email us on info@actbelongcommit.org.au.

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