A recent survey across 1,200 Australians highlighted the importance of relationships, sleep, exercise, meditation and diet in supporting good mental health during times of stress.
There is a growing body of evidence in prescribing lifestyle interventions, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, smoking cessation and healthy dietary habits, to supplement the role of medications in mental health care.
The role of relationships and social connectedness is relatively new for health care providers to include in their services. Feeling connected is important, whether it be within family, with friends, at work, in the community or online. And so health care services are now starting to focus on community, group sessions, and identifying and relieving social isolation.
A range of evidence-based therapies can help to foster connectedness, such as meditation and mindfulness groups, community lifestyle programs, adult learning (i.e. classes, courses), spiritual activities (e.g. prayer), volunteering, pursuing creative interests (e.g. art classes) and exploring nature with others (e.g. camping or hiking groups).
Most of the medical and neuroscience commentary describe feeling connected is the critical factor for these interventions. So it doesn’t matter who you have relationships or friendships with, it’s more important that these relationships are strong, and nurtures a sense of belonging and being cared for.