27 October 2020

GMRF is committed to addressing mental health issues affecting our veterans. Through the Veteran Health Initiative, researchers like clinical psychologist Dr Sarah Hampton are exploring evidence-based treatments for their suitability to be used with veterans and their families in the community.

You can boost your mood and improve your emotional wellbeing through actively practising compassion towards yourself and others. While it might mean different things to different people, Dr Hampton describes compassion as the sensitivity
to suffering in self and others, with a commitment to alleviating and preventing it.

“Compassionate behaviours, such as the giving and receiving of kindness and care, have been shown to stimulate feelings of warmth, calmness and contentment, which help regulate emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, stress and shame,” Dr Hampton says.

Compassion focused therapies have been used to reduce distress symptoms in a variety of psychological and medical conditions. If you have a diagnosed mental health condition, Dr Hampton recommends seeing a psychologist to find out if compassion focused therapy could help you.

Dr Hampton says compassionate actions are about asking yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” This might be different to what you want, when what you want is not a healthy way to cope, such as alcohol.

“It’s about changing the tone of how you’re talking to yourself in your mind, from critical to kind and understanding. If you’re having thoughts like ‘stop being weak’ or ‘get over it’, it is more helpful to acknowledge how you’re feeling with acceptance. Then the conversation might change to ‘I am feeling stressed, what I need is to take a break and go for a walk’.”

Self-care is extremely important for managing your mood. There are
simple steps you can take every day to increase feelings of positivity towards
yourself and your approach to your situation.

It is important to check in with yourself rather than suppress negative thoughts. By managing your feelings now, you may prevent a low mood, or a ‘slump’, developing into severe and harmful thoughts and behaviours or conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“If you’ve been noticing worsening disturbances to your behaviour such as trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, or negative thoughts, you should connect with a psychologist or psychiatrist or get a referral from your GP,” Dr Hampton says.