By Seija Grant, MEd CP, RP (Qualifying)
In the spirit of ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ day, I thought that I would write an article with the goal of reducing the stigma around talking about mental health. Let’s try to break down these barriers to accessing help and talking about the obstacles that we face. We are all human, and we all struggle sometimes as imperfect beings. So let’s talk.
What is mental health anyway? Well, mental health is something that we all have, just like physical health. Some days it may be better than others, some days it may be challenging, again, just like physical health. Mental health encompasses your emotional, psychological and social well-being, and requires regular upkeep and maintenance… you guessed it, like physical health. Having well-balanced and maintained mental health can help you handle the curve-balls life can throw at us. It can affect how we manage situations, and is important at all of life’s stages. In short, mental health is just as important as physical health. Take a moment to process this message. Keeping this concept in mind, this article will provide some ideas to implement to take care of your own mental health.
There are many contributing factors to the mental health of an individual. Some of these include genetics and family history (nature), as well as upbringing (nurture). We can’t change our own physical make-up, we have to play the hand we were dealt, and we can’t go back in time and change our own past. But we can take matters into our own hands now. We can take what we have been given and turn it into something beautiful.
So what does this look like? Taking care of our mental health means talking about our experiences and emotions—talking to our friends, family, and maybe even therapist. It means being open and honest with yourself. Try to sit with feelings as they come up instead of running away from them or stuffing them away. It may not be comfortable, but it will pass, and you will be stronger for it. We can practice self-care and self-compassion, and loving ourselves (because we are worth it)! It means making our health (both physical and mental) a priority, and getting enough sleep, rest, and relaxation. Sometimes it even means examining our habits and asking ourselves if we are helping or harming ourselves (substance use, food intake, sleep practices, critical thoughts, etc.).
Nobody is perfect, has perfect self-care practice, or is fully self-actualized. We are all a work in progress, and can always take steps towards improvement. Mental health is fluid, and it can change over time. Just because at one stage of your life you were mentally unhealthy doesn’t mean it will always be that way, and vice versa. Having good mental health means that you can express yourself, manage emotions, maintain your relationships, handle change, and learn new things. In other words, having good mental health helps you to grow and to be the happiest version of yourself.
Some areas of your life that you may want to examine to ensure good mental health are:
Remember that mental health and physical health are linked. They are not separate entities and there is more and more research coming out to support this mind-body connection. If you notice changes in your physical health, you may also notice changes in your mental health. Often, taking care of one area has positive impacts in another.
So the moral of the story? Take care of your mental health just as you would take care of your physical health. Because you deserve it.
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Check out kellymagazine.ca for recent mental health articles and blog posts.
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