Four Ways To Reclaim Your Well-Being
We all know how important it is to be well but let’s face it – it can feel difficult to look at life right now without feeling like something’s off.
Good news: it’s perfectly ok to feel a range of emotions and by acknowledging that so many of us are feeling really big feelings, we’ll cultivate the courage we need to face the future with some hope.
Often, there’s a common misconception that “good mental health” means feeling happy, and “bad mental health” means feeling sad. A mentally healthy life includes the full range of human emotions – even the uncomfortable ones like sadness, fear, and anger.
As the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) points out this Mental Health Week, challenging ourselves to name how we feel, rather than numb it, reduces the intensity of negative emotions and supports good brain function too. Naming how we feel decreases activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that drives our responses to fear and stress, and increases activity in the prefrontal control regions, parts of the brain associated with regulating and making sense of emotions.
Even in times of extreme anxiety and stress, mental health is something we can protect, not just something we can lose. Brushing aside how we feel can affect how we feel about ourselves, our relationships, our work productivity, sense of purpose, and can manifest into long-term health issues.
A new article by thought-leader Adam Grant looks at how languishing – a perpetual feeling of blah – is a big risk factor for mental illness. Part of the danger is that when we languish, we might not notice the “dulling of delight” or the “dwindling of drive”. Being indifferent to our indifference silently lets solitude slip into our lives, dulling our motivation and disrupting our ability to focus.
So what do we do to reclaim our well-being if we feel it’s gone sideways?
- Permit yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Name it out loud to yourself, write it down, and if you’re feeling comfortable, share it with a trusted friend. Use this checklist from the CMHA to get a benchmark on how you’re doing and when you need a time out, use the Calm app to recentre and refocus.
- Share your experiences to help lighten the path forward. Research shows that peer-to-peer support is an effective way to build resilience and a really good conversation at the right time can make a world of difference for someone in need.
- Document how you support your mental health and share it with your sphere of influence. Start a group chat, send an email, or schedule a virtual tea or coffee to exchange ideas.
- Find a way to help lighten the load for others. When we give to others and ourselves, we experience a boost in purposeful joy, giving us great meaning to our lives and a strong sense of collaboration too.
- Seek out mental health support when it all feels too much. No one deserves to suffer in silence and when your emotions are overwhelming, know that you’re never alone.
What’s something new that you’re doing to support yourself right now? If you’re comfortable, share your thoughts with others below.
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