October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and it feels like perfect timing. Life is finally starting to feel a little more normal. We’re emerging from many pandemic-related restrictions and beginning to find our footing in this post-lockdown world. Now is the perfect time to ensure that you are making your mental health and wellness a priority.
Start with the basics
You may believe that mental health is something negative- like depression or anxiety. In reality, it’s simply a term for your overall mental wellness. Much like with our physical selves the term “physical health” is a catch-all for the overall state of your physical wellbeing, despite any type of chronic condition, illness or diagnosis.
According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.” They go on to say that your mental state is an integral part of health and wellness.
Everyone will experience flux in their mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing. It becomes an issue when you experience a prolonged state of emotional duress or it begins to impact your life. Mental Illness itself is quite common. In fact, by the age of 40, about 50% of Canadians will have or have had a mental illness. Knowing what we’re dealing with is the first component to taking charge of your mental health.
Work for Wellness
When you make an effort to take care of your body, you build habits like eating more greens, drinking more water and exercising more regularly. You should take the same care in your mental health. You only get out of it what you invest into it.
- Your physical state directly affects your mental state. Proper eating habits, getting enough rest and exercise, drinking water; all can help improve your mental health, regardless of a diagnosis or a lack thereof
- Connection with others is an excellent strategy for maintaining or improving your mental health. Building a trusted network of friends and family that you can lean on will help stop any feeling of loneliness and isolation. Your network can consist of family and close friends, as well as co-workers, teammates, classmates, and so on. Consider joining a team or a club, taking a class, or joining a hobby group to help you connect with like-minded people with similar interests.
- Having a purpose in life can help you feel more motivated overall and can boost your feelings of self-worth. It may be your job or career where you feel like you make a difference, or it may be elsewhere. Volunteering, supporting family members, sharing your hobbies and talents with others are all ways that you can help feel more purpose in your life.
- Be mindful. Learning to be present in the moment, or practicing meditation can help you quiet the noise of stress and self-doubt. Meditation has also been proven to help you sleep better!
Stress is a major challenge to your mental health. Even those that have no history of mental illness can find themselves battling anxiety and depression during a, particularly stressful time. While small measures of stress can be seen as a benefit (it may help you perform under pressure) prolonged stress is neither good for your body or your mind.
- Learn what triggers your stress
- Practice techniques that help you relax
- Making time for hobbies and activities you enjoy
- Use helpful tools like to-do lists to set priorities and make tasks achievable.
Put Yourself in Time Out
Sometimes you just need to a break! If you’re finding that you are always busy, it might be beneficial to schedule some ‘you’ time each day or week. Maybe take a mental health day to decompress and start fresh. Some meditation or binge-watching your favourite tv show in your sweats can do a world of wonders sometimes.
Get Some Help
Everyone needs an extra hand sometimes. If you’ve taken action and feel like you could use a little more help or support there is no shame in reaching out. There are some signs that can tell you it’s time to seek help from a professional:
- You’ve been feeling sad, down, angry, depressed, numb or generally ‘not yourself’ all the time, for two weeks or more
- Your emotional state is preventing you from coping at work, school or in your relationships
There are many resources you can turn to. At RLB, we have an Employee and Family Assistance Program, as many organizations do. There are also free resources such as Here 24/7, Bounce Back Ontario or Stronger Minds. You can always start by talking to your family doctor or a trusted friend or family member who is a good listener. If it’s an emergency and you think your life or someone else’s life is in danger, always call 911 for an ambulance and immediate support.
Remember that only a trained health professional can diagnose you with a mental illness and offer treatment services.