Mental Health Tips from the Health Stand Nutrition Team
Asking our team “How do you take care of your mental health or that of others?”
Bell Let’s Talk Day is Wednesday, January 25th and we’re joining in to help drive meaningful progress in mental health.
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign highlights the ways that we can support ourselves and those we care about through actions like listening, being there, and talking.
Every Canadian can play a part in their communities, workplaces, schools, and at home.
That’s why we’re joining in the 13th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day to help create positive change.
We asked our team of dietitians and staff, “What do you do to take care of your mental health or that of others?” We hope our experiences and ways of coping with mental health help you on your journey. Perhaps someone else’s way of coping with mental health may resonate with you or spark ideas on how you can implement self-care practices into your daily life.
Join in on the conversation, and comment below what you do to take care of your mental health or that of others!
Mental Health Tips from the Health Stand Nutrition Team
3 ways I take care of my mental health include:
1. Understanding the power of the pause. Mindfulness meditation training has taught me that there is power in a pause throughout the day. Take deep breaths between tasks and meetings – these moments of a quiet pause and focus on the breath throughout your day can allow you to respond skillfully rather than react mindlessly.
2. Build in transitions between tasks and duties. Creating space as you move through your day to transition between tasks and also between work and family life is key. Ways I do that are commuting to work by bike a few days a week (yup even in the winter) as this is a great way to start and finish the work day. If I am driving to work I occasionally park my car on the side of the street before turning into my driveway to add a few notes to my to-do list for later and then take a few deep mindful breaths before coming home. This allows me to bring more presence home to my family.3. Get outside! Look for opportunities to connect with nature. As a family we sometimes walk to the store to pick up a few groceries or run an errand rather than drive. In the winter we also love ice skating and weekend cross country skiing, fat biking and downhill skiing.
To take care of my own mental health I use a few different strategies.
1. I use a journal (word document that is password protected) to let out my thoughts and explore my emotions. Also, I am lucky to have great friends and support people in my life who can hear this too sometimes. They are great at just letting me share without trying to find the brightside or make it better.
2. I get outside! The shift to being in the fresh air and changing my surroundings can really help me if I am feeling stuck, frustrated or overwhelmed. Another key here is that I try to mute my phone notifications or get out of cell service sometimes too.
3. When I am really feeling low or stuck in my mental health I do a deeper dive. First, I try to identify what it is I am actually feeling. Then I will try to do something that matches the intensity of my emotion. For example, when I am angry – I yell in my car! And then finally, once the intensity of the emotion has released some, I think back on what has been going on and see if there is something that I need to problem solve or a discussion that needs to be had so I don’t end up back in that space.
1. The power of positive thinking. If you are thinking negatively about yourself or your situation you are most likely going to feel poorly. I try to always think of the positives in every situation (no matter how small). Looking at things from that perspective can really change the overall outlook!
2. Ensure I have ‘me time’ daily, even if it’s for 5 minutes. Getting time to myself to do whatever I want to do, not need to do, is really important for my mental health
3. Spending time outdoors. I have a wonderful dog that gets me outside everyday, rain, shine or snow. Breathing fresh O2 and seeing the beautiful creations of nature is one of the best self care things I do!!
4. A special beverage of choice – whether it’s a London fog, glass of red wine or a bubbly water, I enjoy sipping on a favourite beverage as part of my self care:)
As a working mom with two kids under the age of 5, I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t make my mental health a priority, everyone ends up paying a price. As the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup”; therefore I ensure to find time to fill up my own every day. I try to move my body in a way that feels enjoyable, such as tobogganing, trail walks and dance parties with the kids. I also practice breathing techniques to help ground myself during stressful times. Finally, I make it a point to plan social events with friends every few weeks to connect with those who bring joy to my life.
When it comes to supporting my own mental health, one of the most important things I have learned (and am still learning to be honest!) is creating strong boundaries in my life to protect my self-care space. As someone who needs alone time to rest and recharge, that looks like protecting at least one evening a week for a quiet night in. Whether it’s reading a book, having a movie night, or some cuddles with my dog, I need weekly rhythms that include downtime so I can refill my cup and feel ready and rejuvenated to pour into those around me the rest of the week! I also find time outside incredibly grounding, so I regularly make space for walks with my dog and try to plan weekend hikes with trusted friends – we get fresh air, some joyful movement, and it’s great to talk with people I trust about what’s going on in my life.
When I notice my mental health needs tending to, I’ll either walk my dog, exercise, or do artsy things like paint or draw. I have been meaning to do some more meditation and journaling, so Bell Let’s Talk is a reminder for me to really give it a try! To support others, I’ve learnt to really focus on listening with empathy and understanding and less trying to solve the problem and offer suggestions. I’ve found that makes a huge difference in being there for my loved ones.
Three ways I take care of my mental health:1. I get outside and move my body. I find fresh air, sunshine, and nature really grounding and peaceful. I often will take a moment to intentionally take some deep breaths and soak in my surroundings, finding a place of gratitude. Often I will do something active as well (like running, biking or hiking) because I find moving my body helps me release any stress from the day.2. I often journal to get my thoughts out of my head and down on paper. I’ll journal anything that is bothering me but I’ll also often journal about the many things I’m thankful for. I find this brings perspective when I may be having a challenging day.3. I’m very grateful to have some incredibly trustworthy friends who are a safe place for me to share my thoughts, worries, challenges, successes, etc. I find that a good heart to heart with a friend is invaluable. It’s often not about “solving a problem” but rather being seen and knowing you’re not alone.
1. Having a support system around me: I am incredibly lucky to have a supportive family, friends, and a wonderful partner. Having “check-in” conversations with my partner and prioritizing time with him are key. It helps to have someone to vent to or just share how my day went. I am a big processor and if I am not able to chat about what is on my mind I try to journal or write a note in my phone. My dog is also a great listener and is always up to cuddle.2. Prioritizing “me” time: making some space in the week for things I enjoy outside of work and other obligations is super important to me. Mindful walks outside, good music, grabbing a latte at a new cafe, seeing a friend for lunch, or booking in for a massage or facial are also ways I reset.3. Using my creative side: art has always been therapeutic for me. I would not call myself an artist but I love to turn on a trashy TV show and get creative. I have done DIY embroidery recently which I love, but have also used adult colouring books and taught myself macrame on YouTube. It helps to use my brain in a different way and slow down and enjoy the process of making art!
Keep listening, talking and being there for ourselves and each other.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat lens. All at no cost to participants beyond what they would normally pay their service provider for online or phone access.
You can also find resources, learn more about some of the organizations providing meaningful mental health supports and services throughout Canada and download the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit to begin your own conversation about mental health at home, school or in the workplace.
Please join us this Bell Let’s Talk Day by showing your support for all those who live with mental illness and those taking action to help them.
Don’t forget to check out our Nutrition for Mental Health blog post!
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