Mental Health

Taking Care of Your Mental Health: You are Worth It!

One in five Canadians will have mental health problems that get in the way of life. Without mental health, it’s hard to have a sense of well-being. Do you worry about your mood, excess anxiety, alcohol or substance use? Your mental health matters and early detection and treatment is important since most mental health problems are treatable. No matter what age you are, it is worth talking to your doctor or a nurse practitioner about your mental health in the same way you would try to look after your physical health.

  • Talking about mental health. We all need support in life and seeking help to look after ourselves is a sign of strength, not weakness. Reach out to friends, and family or seek the support of a therapist to deal with problems that are really bothering you. Help break down the stigma around mental health.
  • Research shows mental health and life satisfaction can improve as we age. Self-rated happiness increases with each decade, despite losses or health challenges. Did you know some mental processes (such as empathy, emotional stability and decision-making) can improve over a lifetime?  A positive mental outlook is very protective for your long-term health.
  • We now know that our brains are not prewired to fail. Depression, anxiety, and worsening memory problems are not usual at any age. Sadness and worry are not the same as depression and anxiety disorders. You also can help protect your memory for the long-term: did you know up to 35% of dementia is preventable with a healthy lifestyle that includes: regular physical activity, social connection, and brain challenge. To learn more about mental health and illness check out Canadian Mental Health Association.

 

IDEAS TO GET STARTED!

Strategies to manage stress. We all have stress and challenges in our lives. The body’s stress response happens whenever you feel worried or unsure- stress chemicals are released, heartrates go up as muscles tense. Stress in short bursts is completely normal, but chronic or overwhelming stress is not good for our physical or mental health. The relaxation response is also a normal body reaction that relaxes you, to digest your food or fall asleep at night. Three effective relaxation techniques to try are: deep breathing, yoga and mindfulness.

  • Slow it down with deep breathing. Slow breathing can help your body turn off the stress response to feel more relaxed before sleep, or  when you feel stressed. To try out a deep breathing and relaxation practice, visit Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindful Body Scan Practice.
  • Yoga is a well-proven method to relax your mind and body.  Whether you do yoga for an hour twice a week, or just a few minutes a day, your mental and physical health can benefit. To try out a free 20-minute online yoga practice, try out Yoga with Adriene.
  • Mindfulness practice is a state of focused attention, for example, tuning into your breath in order to be “in the moment” and to bring on the relaxation response. Whether you practice for 20 minutes a day, or just a few minutes a day, your mental health can benefit. To learn more about mindfulness, check out and Susan Piver’s Online Meditation Studio.
  • Kindness to yourself. Make your favorite food, sit outside, or visit a friend.  If your thoughts tend to be self-critical, check out self-compassion exercises which have been shown to reduce critical, negative thinking associated with depression and anxiety (http://self-compassion.org). Check out the Positive Thinking section of this website for more on this.
  • Improve your eating habits. Did you know what you eat can impact mental and physical health and brain function? Foods rich in vegetable oils such as olive oil, nuts, green and colorful vegetables, and dark-coloured berries like blueberries are great for brain health. Check out Canada's Food Guides and Healthy Eating and Brain Health Foods and https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/
  • Improve your sleep. Do you have trouble sleeping? Most of us struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep at least some of the time. Under stress or mood changes, sleep can be more difficult. As we get older it is normal to need to need less sleep, but sometimes we need help. For evidence-based better sleep strategies, check out https://mysleepwell.ca
  • Mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a way to be in the present by noticing your breath. This can help you to stop worrying about the past and future. Regular mindfulness practice can prevent depression and reduce relapse. Mindfulness sessions are offered in the community and on-line. Check out Head Space for more information.
  • Stay active! Physical activity on its own can help prevent depression, manage stress and anxiety and can even be a treatment for mild and moderate depression.
  • Time for things that give you a sense of purpose. Set a personal goal to walk every day, visit a friend, or connect with a family member. Focusing on what matters most to you can improve your mental health.  
  • Are you a student? Check out our SMART Thinking Wellness Plan For University Students designed for students who want to create their own personal mental and physical wellness plans while at university.  
  • Are you an older adult? Check out our FoH Mental Health Myths and Facts Brochure if you are an older adult: Learn about the signs of dementia, depression and anxiety. Sometimes depression and anxiety can present differently when we are older, but it is just as treatable.

Set a goal!

Set a SMART mental health goal from the Ideas to get Started list, or choose one of your own. Remember the more specific, measurable and realistic your goal, the more likly you are to succeed!

Invitation: We invite you to try out our Wellness App to track your goal over the next 4 weeks. No goal is too small and the Wellness App will encourage you along the way!

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