The past year has been tough for everyone, and it may be the first time, or the 1000th time that you have experienced some degree of mental illness in your life. It is normal to have feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and being overwhelmed.
It is important that you take care of your own mental health.
How to Prioritize Your Mental Health
- Connect with Others (Virtually). Humans have evolved to be social creatures. It takes a toll on our mental wellbeing when we are unable to see loved ones in fear of spreading COVID-19. Set up weekly or monthly video calls with your friend group. Plan a virtual dinner with extended family. Check in with friends by sending them a message.
- Sleep. The body requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Getting a good night’s rest is essential to allowing your body to recharge and be ready for the day ahead.
- Exercise. Studies have shown that exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increases cognitive functioning and self-esteem. Exercising does not have to be an hour-long weightlifting session; it can simply be a walk around your property.
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice of reflecting on your emotions and feelings, and generally on the day itself. It is a way to become aware of your own emotional responses in the moment and helps to not feel overwhelmed or overreactive in a situation. Everyone can practice mindfulness, it starts by simply taking a deep breath and thinking “Wow, I am very stressed in this moment and upset, I am going to take 3 deep breaths before I respond”.
- Journal. Studies have shown that keeping a journal is a way to release stress and help to manage anxieties and depression.
- Take Breaks. Things like the news, social media and all things COVID can get overwhelming. It is okay to take breaks from media, television and your phone to relax and unwind. Watch a movie, bake some treats, read a book or go for a walk.
- Utilize Mental Health Resources. 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer mental illness in their lives and it is expected that this number will rise because of the pandemic. Below is a list of free resources you can access for support. There are also private practice counsellor and therapist options for individualized support.
Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario (https://ontario.cmha.ca/). The CMHAO has municipal level branches with specific resources and programs for their areas of service.
Do More Agriculture Foundation (https://www.domore.ag/). The goal of Do More is to help Canadian producers with their mental wellbeing.
Crisis Services Canada (https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/looking-for-local-resources-support/). The resource page has lists of local resources, distress centers and crisis organizations depending on your area.
Connex Ontario (https://www.connexontario.ca/en-ca/). Free and confidential health services information for people in Ontario experiencing problems with mental health, addiction and problem gambling.