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5 mental health and self-care strategies

You’ve likely heard the statistic that one-in-five Canadians experience some form of mental illness or mental health problem every year. Mood disorders—like depression—are especially prevalent, with over 2.9 million Canadians experiencing a mood disorder in 2020. Amongst older adults, depression is the most common mental illness. The global pandemic has also impacted mental health due to fear and anxiety around getting sick or having loved ones get sick, loss of family, friends and community members, disruptions to everyday life, and social isolation, to name a few.

 

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. 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. Practise 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,

 

Listen to music

Music acts as a timestamp. With the press of a button, it can transport us to different times in our lives, such as our first high school dance, favourite concert, or wedding day. With these memories come the thoughts and emotions we felt in those moments. It can help reduce anxiety, pain, and depression and may even 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!

 

Get moving

When we exercise, our bodies release a chemical 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 such as 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 showed small improvements in depression and increase in well-being for those who took 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.


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DISCLAIMER: Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of these blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with current social distancing recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website

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