Mental Health Week 2020

alyssa koenderink

This year Mental Health Week feels a little different. Our country is experiencing a health crisis that has impacted the way we live our daily lives. Knowing that this is a strange and sometimes scary time, this mental health week gives us an opportunity to focus on and care for our whole selves. Caring for the mind and body together can be tricky to navigate during a crisis so here are a few tips for how to increase your own wellness on an ongoing basis.

Food

Eat good food. If we have to have food to survive, we certainly deserve to enjoy it. Try to eat mindfully, focusing on the texture, flavour, and whole experience of taste. We can do this after a long day of parenting, working and cleaning. Give yourself the gift of enjoying food.

Sleep

This is such a popular topic we did a whole webinar on it! Why can’t I sleep during COVID-19? Sleep is an essential part of our lives and if it feels unbalanced, we can really struggle. Good sleep hygiene routines can look different for everyone and that’s ok. A few helpful tips for good sleep: 1. Drink less caffeine in the hours before bedtime. 2. Make sure to set proper conditions for sleep (temperature of the room, lights off, technology off, comfy pillows etc.). 3. For families, agree on a “no noise” time so that sleep time is respected. 4. Only use your bed for sleep and sex so that your body knows what the bed is for. 5. If you have trouble falling asleep, get up, go somewhere else in the house, and do something quiet (no technology!) until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. For other information on sleep, 10 Ways To Improve Your Sleep.

Social Time

Being around people can add a lot of joy to our lives. During COVID-19 it has been very challenging to feel connected to others due to the social distancing restrictions. Here are a few ways we can still stay connected to people during this time: 1. Use the phone to call and check-in with your people. 2. Spend time with the people you live with or talk to neighbours from a safe distance. 3. Use the social media platforms that work for you. 4. Be friendly and engaging in public while following social distancing rules. Remember that humans are social by nature and that we all need varying amounts of contact with others to stay well.

Creativity and Enjoyment

Although many of us experience that “I don’t have time” for it feeling during even the best of times, it can be so fulfilling to include some creative outlets into our weeks. Think back to the last time you made something cool, had an idea you thought was great, or were so mindfully engaged in an activity it felt like time stood still (look up the concept of flow!). Adults deserve to be creative and have those moments just as much as kids do. You are not too old for it. Yes, there are priorities in life that take first dibs on our time. We can still sink in, put some of the not-fun things on pause, and make time for creativity and enjoyment.

Relaxation

Listen, I’m not one to tell people to just “relax” in that sort of passive-aggressive tone. I struggle to find time to just have the bubble bath, enjoy the hot tea, or sit outside and take in the splendour of nature. However, when I do those things, it does feel good. I know that when I feel tapped out I can try to make time for relaxing without judging myself if relaxation does not happen right away. Take a moment for yourself when it fits and when you think you can really sink into that moment. When we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for others and continue this cycle of care.

Productivity and Accomplishment

As a list person myself, I really get a lot of value out of crossing things off. Crossing. Things. Off. Ahhhh such a great feeling! I’m even saving paper by using the Sticky Notes app on my laptop (environmental win!). Some of us need to feel like we have accomplished something in order to stamp the day with a badge of success (or sometimes just a participation ribbon but whatever works). Set yourself up for feeling this way by setting reasonable goals for the day or week and making sure to self-praise for things you complete while simultaneously being kind to yourself if things do not happen as planned. Catch any negative judgements that happen when the “I should haves” start up in your mind.

Hopefully, you enjoyed the tips in this post and can feel validated in what you’re already doing to support your mental health. Add in anything that you think will help to support you to feel well and take out those things that just do not seem to fit in. We are all different and we all deserve to stay as healthy as we can.

alyssa koenderink

Alyssa Koenderink

Registered Psychotherapist