young people find happiness in physical activity, family, and friends

New survey findings released ahead of The Push-Up Challenge launching on 5 June

Family, friends and physical activity are the top three things young people find happiness in during their day-to-day life, according to new research from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

The national survey of over 3,000 young Australians aged 12-25 revealed that, following spending time or speaking with family and friends (17% and 13%), playing sport, exercising, or winning a sports game or competition was named as the best ‘little’ thing that had happened to them that week (10%), highlighting the benefits of physical activity on mental health.

The findings from headspace’s National Youth Mental Health Survey have been released to coincide with The Push-Up Challenge, Australia’s largest annual mental health and fitness event which kicks off on 5 June.

headspace National Clinical Advisor, Rupert Saunders, says that staying active is a great habit for supporting good mental health, and that it can also be a great way to connect with others.

“Staying active can improve your sleep, give you more energy and help manage stress – all helping you to keep a healthy headspace.

“Exercising can be anything that gets your body moving. Activities like walking, playing sport, yoga, dancing or swimming will all help you release stress and give you a better chance of improving your mood.

“When you’re feeling stressed or low, it can be bit difficult to get moving. But it’s often when you least feel like getting active that it will benefit you most.

“Partnering exercise with other habits – like getting enough sleep, eating well and spending time with people we love – are small steps we can take to help us live our lives in positive and meaningful ways, and to cope when things get tough.”

“headspace is proud to be partnering with The Push-Up Challenge this June, which is a great opportunity to get active and come together with friends, family, colleagues, for a good cause.

Victoria, aged 21 from Tweed Heads, NSW, lives with ADHD, anxiety and autism. For Victoria, sport and exercise are an important way to maintain her mental health.

“Running with my dog is an essential part of my routine. When I’m stressed about university or any part of life, I feel like the sweat releases everything that is pent up. After a long run, I feel grounded and in the moment.

“One of the best pieces of advice I have is to get up and get moving – even when your motivation is low. It doesn’t have to be anything too intensive. I live nearby to a nature reserve and feel so much better after a brisk walk with my friends, or after going for a swim in the ocean.

“I’m looking forward to taking part in The Push-Up Challenge this year to connect with my friends, and to get active for a good cause.”

The Push-Up Challenge will see thousands of Australians of all ages and ability learn daily mental health facts while they complete 3,249 push-ups over 23 days, highlighting the number of lives lost to suicide in Australia in 2022. Funds raised will go towards headspace, Lifeline and The Push For Better Foundation.

Rupert added: “Changing habits can be tricky, so we encourage all young people to find something they like to do. It can be helpful to start by setting small goals, because you’ll be more likely to achieve them, and feel more motivated to keep going. Exercising with a friend may help you to stick with it, plus it can be a fun way to catch up.

“Planning ahead and making it a part of your daily routine is also a great way to begin exercising. Laying your gym clothes out before bed or getting off the bus or train one stop early and walking the rest of the way are simple habits that can help us to stick to our goals.

“But most importantly, be kind to yourself while you’re trying out new things. It can be tempting to compare yourself to others, but remember that everyone is on their own journey. What’s essential for young people is that they find what works best for them.”

Young people aged 12 to 25, as well as their families and friends can visit a headspace centre for support. Support is also available via phone and online counselling service eheadspace seven days a week between 9am-1am (AEST). The number is 1800 650 890.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to immediately, Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), and 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) are available to talk 24/7.

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