According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
Our brain health is just as important as our physical health. So, why is it so hard for us to talk about mental health? When we feel physically unwell, we're not able to function at a normal level, and sometimes doing basic daily tasks can be difficult. Our mental health is not unlike our physical health. When we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts and emotions, we may also struggle to function at a normal level.
Here are some suggestions to help manage our mental health, particularly important in these especially challenging times:
1. Be Mindful
According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. This practice can sometimes be intimidating so a common introduction is through mindful eating or walking.
2. PractiCe Self-Care
Sometimes the idea of self-care is confused with being selfish. This is an unfortunate misconception. If you're not giving to yourself, it's really hard to give to anybody around you. Self-care activities can be things like taking a bath, reading a book, or going for a walk— really anything that feels good for you. Practicing self-care can promote health and prevent illness.
3. Talk About It
It can be difficult to understand our thoughts and emotions. It's easy for us to distract ourselves and push unwanted thoughts from our minds. Even small challenges can build up to the point where your functioning may start to become impaired. Talking with a mental health professional can help support you and help you develop ways to cope with your mental health.
4. WRITE ABOUT IT
Writing down our thoughts and emotions can help us process what we're feeling. It's sometimes difficult to understand what's going on in our minds if we simply sit with our thoughts. Taking the time to put words to our thoughts can be really helpful in learning to manage our mental health.
5. TAKE A BREAK
It can be overwhelming to work through our emotions so ensure you give yourself a break. Allowing yourself to consciously shift to another focus or task can be really helpful to stay present.
Taking care of our mental health is instrumental to our overall physical health and well-being. According to Ottawa Public Health, brain health is about keeping your brain working at its best and reducing risks to it as you age. Research suggests the choices you make to keep your mind and body healthy may be good for your brain as well. Let's make sure we do everything we can to take care of our minds just as we do for our bodies!
Up next, check out my latest blog post The Top Six Apps for Better Mental Health for a review of the top six mental health apps on the market.
- You can reach Heather Anderson at Grounded Psychology
- Mindfulness apps: Aura, Breethe, Buddhify, Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer
- Mental health crisis line: 613-722-6914 in Ottawa, 1-866-996-0991 outside of Ottawa; 911 if you're feeling suicidal
- Biaov.org Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley - links to workshops, resources, support groups
- Practicing Meditator and Yoga Therapist, Lisa Greenbaum's Meditation for Concussion Patients