Mental health is a word that applies to everyone. Just like your body may feel perfectly well, a little on the tired side, sore after a work-out, suffering from a cold, or chronically ill- your mental health will ebb and flow. Maybe it’s easy to point a finger at what’s causing changes for your wellness, or maybe it’s harder lately. Whether there’s a “reason” or not, your mental health is something to reflect on, monitor, and take action for if things start to dip or affect your day-to-day life, work, and relationships.
Today is World Mental Health Day. A chance to talk openly about different mental health tools, strategies, resources, and challenges. The strain put on everyone emotionally, financially, mentally, and physically due to the Covid-19 pandemic can compound already existing mental health challenges, or bring forward new ones you may never have experienced before. The changes we are experiencing are profound. Everyone’s needs are different, but here’s what I work especially hard to remember to make time for in my daily practices.
1. Being kind to yourself
Things are strange right now, and the underlying stresses financially, mentally, emotionally, and globally are no small thing. Be kind to yourself when you lash out more quickly than usual. Be forgiving with yourself if you find you’re feeling down, or anxious. Celebrate even the smallest things and try to keep your inner dialogue encouraging while we all just try to do our best.
2. Practicing Self-Care Take time off. Off from worrying about work. Off from being “on” for others. Take time for practices that add value to your day, whether it’s a mindfulness practice, extra time with your hygiene routine, listening to music, anything at all. Make space to be completely present with a focus on your wellness.
3. Seeking Help If you are finding that your mental health is suffering you may consider reaching out to your family doctor or local mental health service. Having someone to listen non-judgmentally as you sort through new situations and emotions can be profoundly helpful. There are links at the bottom of this page that may help direct you to local resources. I have used both digital and in-person counselling, and it may not be a perfect fit your first time around. Don’t feel disheartened and keep trying until you’re able to find someone who works well with you.
When I look up after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram for an hour, how do I feel? Happy? Blah? Like I just lost an hour of my life? Approach your time and actions with the end feelings in mind. Not the end result. The end feelings. Will doing a virtual paint night and making a haphazard daisy that looks nothing like the instructors bring you joy? Do it! Will doing a free tutorial or course make you feel more accomplished? Go for it! Try to intentionally spend your time doing things that have positive emotional out-comes and work to limit your time doing things that make you feel down, self-critical, or anxious.
5. Experiencing Nature
There are more studies and articles showing the benefits of time spent out-doors than you can shake a stick at! Go for a walk in a nearby conservation area or provincial park. Walk your dog. Grow plants in your yard. Grow plants inside! Walk, run, play, rake leaves, do anything at all where you are outside and able to feel connected to the natural world.
6. Practicing Prayer
Praying doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. It doesn’t need a script. Prayer can be practicing gratitude, thanking God for 3 things each day in a journal, on post-its, or just in your mind. Prayer can be sitting and practicing mindfulness, feeling connected to the earth and His creation. Prayer can be asking God for guidance and love for family members while you are cutting vegetables. Take time for both. Prayer that is whole, and intentional and prayer that is just part of your day, like having a friend over for coffee.
*Note. The intention isn’t to pray to God to “cure” or “fix” that you are unwell. It’s a practice aimed to help think through feelings and challenges. To focus on positives and hope and to find comfort in scripture and His presence.
I hope that you are well on this World Mental Health Day, but if you aren’t please know you aren’t alone. You may have heard that 1 in 5 suffer from mental illness at one point in their lives or another. Maybe this is your first time being that 1, or maybe it’s your 50th. Maybe you’re doing well but you’ve been supporting a friend or family member and it’s been challenging in it’s own way. Whatever boat you’re in, I hope that you are able to find tools and resources to make it a little easier to float along.
May your coffee always be hot, your music be loud, and your space full of colour
Christin “Hydra” Gillard