By Lucy Belanger, M.Ed., Strengthening the Forces –
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated October 10th as World Mental Health Day. The WHO uses this day as an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues and this year’s theme was suicide prevention. Positive mental health is the foundation upon which all health is built, is essential when dealing with all components of health, and can help mitigate the risk of suicide. Positive mental health includes:
- Feeling in control of your life;
- Being able to manage stressful situations;
- Feeling hopeful that good things are coming your way;
- Feeling physically healthy, and;
- Feeling like you belong to a group or community.
In recognition of World Mental Health Day, here are some actions you can take to support your mental and physical health.
Manage Your Stress!
Everyone experiences stress differently and not everyone manages stress in a way that supports their mental health. Excellent stress management techniques include exercising, ensuring you have good sleep, practicing meditation, scheduling alone time, spending time in nature, and having a supportive social group of family and/or friends. The key is to develop a plan to manage your stress and not leave it to chance. If you schedule time to de-stress you are more likely to cope better when stressful situations occur.
Exercise supports positive mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, mild depression, and enhances addiction recovery. Regular exercise also improves a sense of self-worth, the quality of your sleep, and cognitive function. Being active also involves taking precautions to avoid injury such as wearing protective gear, exercising in well-lit areas or ensuring you are visible when exercising outdoors, and not exercising when you feel ill or when overly tired.
Eat Healthy Foods!
Healthy food choices have a positive impact on mental health. According to Dietitians of Canada, “the food we eat is associated with our mood, behavior, and cognition”. Studies show a consistent association between diet and symptoms of depression and anxiety. A Mediterranean diet that is comprised of daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats, weekly intake of fish, eggs, poultry and beans and moderate amounts of dairy products and meat, helps to boost positive mental health.
Choose Addiction-Free Living!
Positive mental health includes living a life that is free of addictions. Effective coping techniques can reduce the likelihood of addictions. Good communication skills improve the ability to identify and discuss difficult situations, reduce conflict and increase problem solving. Some additional methods that are helpful include, having a supportive social network and feeling socially connected. The ability to talk about stressors you are facing will also help mitigate the risk of addiction.
As you can see, positive mental health impacts all areas of health. When you take steps that encourage positive mental health you benefit, and so does your family, and community.
To learn more about any upcoming health promotion workshops or campaigns in the National Capital Region, please visit the PSP Ottawa website.
Feature Image Provided by: CAFConnection
This post is also available in: Français (French)