This Sunday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day — a day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The day is also a good opportunity to do a mental health check-in (especially with colder, darker days ahead and us surpassing the 18-month mark for the COVID-19 pandemic). So, we asked our mental health team to share with us some of their top mental health self-care tips.
HERE ARE OUR TEAM’S TOP 10 MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
1. TAKE A BREAK
Having a short break can make a big difference. Take the time to do something that you enjoy, such as listening to your favourite song, spending time outdoors, or making a cup of tea. Try to give yourself a break (even if it’s just 5 minutes) for yourself at least every day.
2. DON’T SKIP MEALS
Try to eat healthy meals (including breakfast) and snacks each day.
3. GET MOVING
Exercising is a great mood booster! Even just going for a walk around the block (or even around your room) can make a big difference. Aim for five to 20 minutes of continuous movement.
4. DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE
Deep belly breathing can help to calm and relax your system. Two techniques to try are the 4-7-8 technique and diaphragmic (deep belly) breathing.
5. TAKE THE TIME TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Practicing gratitude has shown to have incredible effects in boosting moods. Ask yourself: what are you thankful for, regardless of how big or small it is? Tell others how much you love and appreciate them, and say “thank you”. Some people even like to write what they are grateful for in a journal.
6. STAY CONNECTED WITH OTHERS
Being around others can also help to improve your mood. Spending time with or calling your family and friends, chatting with your neighbours, or volunteering are all great ways to feel less lonely and isolated.
7. TRY A NEW HOBBY (OR RESTART ONE THAT YOU USED TO ENJOY)
Have you ever wanted to learn how to paint or play the guitar or decorate a cake or try something else? Hobbies give you the chance to explore yourself and to have some fun. So give a new hobby a try!
8. LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF TIME YOU SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
There have been lots of news stories about how social media use is linked to depression and anxiety. Try to set limits on how much time you are spending on social media platforms every day.
9. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Being in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. You don’t have to go far to find nature. Toronto has many parks and trails. The city also has many areas for people to enjoy its waterfront, which is great news because being near water can help to reduce stress.
10. PRACTICE MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION
Instead of just ignoring what you are going through with a stiff upper lip mentality, stop and tell yourself “this really difficult right now”, and ask yourself how you can comfort and care for yourself at this moment. Here are a few exercises that you can try!
BONUS TIP: KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP
We want to remind you that while these tips can be helpful, they are not a replacement for therapy or medical care. If you have concerns about your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to family, friends, and professionals for help.
Also, know that we are here for you. WoodGreen offers counselling and social work support services (call us at 416-572-3575). We also have a free Walk-in Counselling program that operates every Tuesday and Wednesday evening (please register by calling (416) 645-6000 ext. 1990 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on those days). If you need someone to talk to, please give us a call.