Act: What does it mean?
At a basic level it simply means “Doing 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.
Some activities, like visiting a zoo with friends, can involve physical, social and mental aspects all in one. As we’ll find out on the next pages, you are probably already doing a number of mentally healthy things.
My Nana was a health expert...
“Use it or lose it” she used to say.
And according to the health experts she was right. Be physically active, she said. Take a walk, ride a bike, dance a little, dig the garden. Keep mentally active, she said. Do a puzzle, read a book, play cards, knit a scarf. Keep socially active, she said. Say hello to your neighbours. Have a chat down the shops.
Health experts now tell us that keeping physically, mentally, socially and spiritually active is how we keep mentally healthy
Your Act Results
A score between 0 - 7:
You can definitely improve! Follow the activities and tips here to see how you can become more active in those areas where you had a low score and you would like to do more.
A score between 8–13:
You are doing well, but you could do more – especially if you scored less than 10. Look at where your activity levels are lowest and think about how you can get more of that sort of activity into your day using the tips in the Great Way to Live Life guide.
A score of 14 or more:
Very good! Your activity levels are really good for your mental health and wellbeing. Keep it up and encourage others to follow your lead and have a more active lifestyle.
Remember, even when you are busy or feeling tired it’s important to keep up these activities to help you cope better with problems and stress.
When you have finished the Guide and started on some of your plans, answer the questions again after a month or so and calculate your score. Then do it again 3 months later and 6 months later
Your Act Workbook
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.
Some ideas you can try
- 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 together 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.
Think of physical activities that you enjoy doing, would like to try doing, or would like to do more of. If you need some ideas, take a look at the list on the next page. Which of these would you find easiest to fit into your daily routine?
Select an activity and pick three days on which it would be easiest to try it out.
Your Act Workbook
Becoming more socially active
Spending time with other people not only brings joy, laughter and fun to our lives, it also provides us with people to support us in times of need.
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 several close friends is very good for our mental health and wellbeing.
But 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.
Some ideas on you can try
- 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 six 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 school 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.
- When 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.
Your Act Workbook
Becoming more mentally active
Just as our body performs better when we are physically fit, so does our mind when we are mentally fit. Keeping alert to what is happening around us is good for our overall wellbeing.
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.
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.
Some ideas you can try
- 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.
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 such as baking, ballroom dancing, doing crosswords, playing video games, reading a book or working on a hobby.
Pick a day and give it a go this week.
Your Act Workbook
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 also 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.
Some ideas to be more spiritually active
- Belong to a faith and take part in services or other activities with other people.
- Go on 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.
Additional Act information
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.
Shape up Australia
Health campaign promoting a healthy active lifestyle. Includes ‘swap it’ tips, activity finder.
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
Country Arts WA
- Community newspapers
- Community notice boards
- Local library
- Local government websites