Banishing 'the blues' in the bush

Date published

09 May 2020

RFDS Wellbeing & Mental Health Team Leader Justine Cooney works with rural and remote Australians every day, helping people manage difficult situations including drought, family crisis and chronic illness. Here, Justine shares her top six sure-fire mood boosters for better living.

“Humans are social creatures and even if we can’t see our family and friends regularly, we can still stay connected online or over the telephone. Take advantage of technology to have face time or zoom catch ups, which can give us the connection and social support needed to sustain us during difficult times.”


“Exposing ourselves to a constant news cycle for most of our waking day can leave us feeling helpless and distressed. Limit exposure to the media, and only trust information from respected sources.”

“Self-care means different things to different people, but it is important to build it into your routine in whatever form you enjoy. Lots of people hold stress in their upper bodies – head, shoulders, chest, neck – so pay attention to these areas and consciously release muscle tension during a ‘me time’ session. That could mean during a hot bath, a nature walk or a meditation or yoga session.”


“The quickest way to boost your mood is to move your body. And it doesn’t need to be much, it just needs to be regular. As little as 15 minutes of activity can make a big difference, but aim for 30 minutes per day. Research has shown that regular exercise can impact our mood as much as anti-depressant medication, and it also has significant benefits in treating anxiety.”


“Anxiety is the body’s way of telling you to take action to stay safe, but sometimes our brains can remain focussed on what’s threatening us, rather than what we can do to reduce the threat. It can be helpful to write down a list of things you can’t control, and also a list of what you can control and how. Be proactive in problem solving and continually taking steps to build your ‘resources’ toolkit (which can include supports, strengths, routine, emotional regulation tools, relaxation strategies, substance misuse levels, diet and exercise). The more resources we have, the better equipped we are to negotiate the stressful demands of life.”


“Research via The Resilience Project has shown that if you list three things per day for which you are grateful for 21 days in a row, this has a significant positive effect on your mood. Appreciating even the smallest things can change our mindset from negative to positive. Showing empathy also gives us a flow-on positive feeling – doing something nice for others or even giving compliments are ways to boost your mood. And it gives us another reason to do something nice for our neighbours!”