Welcome to Mental Health Month!
Every May healthcare professionals and individuals speak up for all things Mental Health related. Whether it’s raising awareness, fighting stigma, educating the public, or supporting mental health initiatives and policies, Mental Health month draws attention to an important topic we tend to shy away from in public. Keep in mind, good Mental Health is more than just what or how you think; it’s how you feel, behave, interact, and respond.
What may help me with my Mental Health may not necessarily help someone else. For some, small steps are all they can take and they should be acknowledged and celebrated for that; things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, or getting dressed. For others, it may mean taking bigger steps like walking the dog, cooking a meal, or chatting with friends and family. Even addressing things like overcoming a fear of flying, learning to be a confident public speaker, or taking action and going for that big promotion can be ways of working on improving your Mental Health. The important thing is to prepare yourself for whatever task is at hand. Whether that means going to the gym and keeping fit, doing meditation and yoga, or reading and learning something new; whatever helps you feel good about you and your accomplishments is what’s best.
Good Mental Health is different for everyone, based on our personal needs and where we are at any particular point in our lives, young or old, sick or healthy. We can however all agree that we know when we are feeling good, and we know when we are feeling stressed, stuck, anxious, or overwhelmed. If you feel like you are struggling or need some assistance getting on track, there are many ways to deal with this. One way is to talk to someone. Perhaps you feel comfortable reaching out to a friend or family member you trust, a Health Care professional such as a family Doctor, Psychologist or Psychotherapist, or maybe a religious figure or a Life Coach.
One aspect of improving your Mental Health is building a toolkit of positive actions or thoughts that help you to get through difficult moments in life. Every person has their own ‘toolkit’ that’s unique to them, so it’s important to take the time to learn what makes you tick. Do you know how to get in touch with you? One of the simplest ways is to think back to when you were a child or to a particularly happy point in your life, and ask yourself what made you happy then? Did you like to take part in sports, art, music, exercise, dancing, or playing board games? All of these memories and activities are windows to the soul. They invigorate us, they motivate us, they calm us and they inspire us.
There are so many methods you can use to get in touch with your thoughts, feelings and emotions, or to help redirect various mental states and emotions in a constructive way. Personally, I like to paint, write in a journal, write a poem or story, cook a good meal, and practice self-care. These methods may not work for everyone, so I suggest taking cues from your past and trying out different things until you find what activities bring you joy, peace, or the constructive redirection you need.
Taking cues from memories and finding ways to repurpose them today can have major benefits both to yourself, and your relationships with friends and family. Even in quarantine, there are still lots of things you can do at home. Did you dance with your mom or dad in the living room as a kid? Why not have a dance party today with your family, roommates, or even by yourself? Maybe you love to sing, so why not try singing your favourite song. People have found exceptionally creative ways to keep doing what they love despite the current circumstances. If those things feel like too much right now, that’s ok, maybe just listening to the birds singing out the window or watching the sunset is what you have the energy for today.
What works for us today for one problem may not necessarily work for us tomorrow for another, so just do whatever gets your motor running and makes you feel good in this moment. Try to take from this what you can, and use these ideas to work on improving your Mental Health, and hopefully you’ll have an amazing month getting in touch with and nurturing yourself!
Stay Safe & Happy Mental Health Month!!
Psychotherapist & CLC