Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance
Mental health problems and illnesses affect more people in Canada than some of the major physical disorders.
- One in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year, with a cost of over $50 billion to our economy.
- 70% of adults living with a mental health problem or illness say their symptoms started in childhood.
- 60% of people with a mental health problem or illness won’t seek help for fear of being labeled.
- 500,000 Canadians, in any given week, are unable to work due to mental health problems or illnesses.
One in three workplace disability claims are related to mental health problems or illnesses.
Assessing our mental health is not as simple to do as measuring our physical health. There are no scales or endurance tests that rate mental fitness. But with the help of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Meter, you can reflect on your unique strengths and identify areas where your level of mental fitness could be improved to help you cope with all of life’s up and downs. Here is the link to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s mental health meter. Take the test and see if you need to focus on improving certain areas of your personal life, and work life/balance.
Here are some simple ways to practice mental fitness:
- Daydream – Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a dream location. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whether it’s a beach, a mountaintop, a hushed forest or a favourite room from your past, let the comforting environment wrap you in a sensation of peace and tranquility.
- “Collect” positive emotional moments – Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence, or other positive emotions.
- Learn ways to cope with negative thoughts – Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them. Don’t try to block them (that never works), but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away.
- Do one thing at a time – For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making that mental “to do” list. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells you encounter.
- Exercise – Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or a gym can also reduce loneliness, since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common goal.
- Enjoy hobbies – Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday tasks. It also keeps your brain active.
- Set personal goals – Goals don’t have to be ambitious. You might decide to finish that book you started three years ago; to take a walk around the block every day; to learn to knit or play bridge; to call your friends instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
- Keep a journal – Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.
- Share humour – Life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share it with someone you know. A little humour can go a long way to keeping us mentally fit!
- Volunteer – Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.
- Treat yourself well – Cook yourself a good meal. Have a bubble bath. See a movie. Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in ages. Sit on a park bench and breathe in the fragrance of flowers and grass. Whatever it is, do it just for you.
Mental Fitness Tips
Think about your emotional well-being. Assess your emotional health regularly. Consider the particular demands or stresses you are facing and how they are affecting you. Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.
Most important……Getting Help
Some people worry about asking for help because there can be stigma around mental health problems. They may believe that asking for help means admitting that something is wrong. Some people worry about how others might see them. Asking for help means that you want to make c
hanges or take steps towards your new health goals. We should celebrate the courage it takes to speak up and make changes. Getting help is part of recovery.
Resources: Canadian Mental Health Assocation www.cmha.ca
Despina has specialized in benefit plans for over 12 years since joining the Dupuis Langen Group in September 2004. As VP of the Employee Benefits Division, and with her years of experience, she is confident she can customize benefit plans for even the most challenging industries, such as community services, long-term care, community living, mining, and energy resource. Despina’s number one goal is to find workable benefit plan for organizations in any sector.