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. Among older adults, depression is the most common mental illness.
Managing mental health and discussing it openly will ensure that people feel supported. Stay connected by conversing with a loved one, neighbour, or friend and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Practise self-care through exercise, meditation and 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.
Maintain relationships virtually
While technology cannot fully replace human connection, it can keep us emotionally connected, even when we are physically apart. Research has shown that connecting virtually 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 experiences, you can strengthen self-esteem and self-fulfillment, helping to improve your well-being.
Turn on the tunes
Music acts as a timestamp. It can help reduce anxiety, pain, and depression and improve sleep quality. With the press of a button, it can transport us to different times, 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.
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.
Volunteer in your community
Studies suggest that volunteering can reduce depression by increasing psychological well-being, sense of accomplishment and belonging, quality of life and self-esteem. In addition to making a real difference in the lives of others, it could have a direct positive impact on your physical and mental health!
When we exercise, our bodies release 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. Many exercises can be performed at home using minimal equipment, such as Yoga, Pilates and even strength training using everyday 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 minor improvements in depression and an 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 mental well-being using the above strategies and remember to check in with others.