This past year has been one many of us could not have imagined. The global pandemic, and related lockdowns to help curb the spread of the virus, have meant many changes to life as we formerly knew it. Staying positive during a challenging time, especially for older adults who are at higher risk of complications from the virus, can be a tall order for many.
Every January Bell Let’s Talk is a day devoted to ending the stigma around mental health issues and continuing an important conversation with those close to you. Now more than ever, managing mental health and talking about it openly with others will ensure people feel that they are supported. Stay connected by having a conversation with a loved one, neighbour, or friend and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Practice self-care through exercise, meditation and by doing activities that bring you joy, such as painting, singing, or writing.
We have compiled a few evidence-based strategies to help you strengthen your mental well-being now, and long-after the pandemic has passed.
Stay connected through technology
While technology cannot fully replace human connection, it can keep us emotionally connected when we are physically apart. Research has shown that connecting virtually, and through social apps, can improve quality of life and break social isolation. By talking about accomplishments (for example, the challenging puzzle you just completed, the famous family recipe you made, or the first scarf you knitted), reliving happy times, and sharing life experience, you can strengthen self-esteem and self-fulfillment, helping to improve your well-being. In addition to sharing memories, consider asking friends and family how they are doing,
Lean on laughter
Laughter and humour are strategies that can be used to maintain perspective during difficult times. Laughter interventions, such as laughter yoga, and humour interventions, such as watching a funny movie, are some methods that can help us incorporate laughter and humour into our lives. Some evidence suggests that, overall, laughter and humour interventions may reduce feelings of sadness and worry in adults and may also improve sleep quality.
Reconnect with your artistic passions
Whether you like singing, music, painting, drawing, photography or other artistic activities, evidence has shown that they can help improve your overall health and well-being. The good news is, many of these activities can be done safely from home!
When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals called endorphins that contribute to a positive feeling and affect our mental health. By incorporating exercise into our daily routine, we are helping both our body and our brain stay fit. There are many exercises that can be performed at home using minimal equipment such as Yoga, Pilates and even strength training using common household objects like soup cans.
Try a mindfulness-based program online
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, combines cognitive behavioural therapy with mindfulness, a type of meditation that focuses on being in the present moment. It is possible to participate in mindfulness-based programs over the Internet, and research shows small improvements in depression and an increase in well-being for those who take part.
The conversation about mental health and well-being is one we need to continue year-round. Strengthen your own mental well-being through using the above strategies and remember to check in with others. While we may be physically distant, we can remain emotionally close.