Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Navigating the murky depths of winter, when the days grow dark and dreary, our mental well-being can be tested. Just as we tend to our physical health during this somber season, it's essential to remember that mental health is a continuous journey, ranging from moments of calm to grappling with significant challenges.
The Canadian Mental Health Association defines mental wellness as "a state of well-being and the ability to function in the face of changing circumstances." These changing circumstances include the weight of stress, the burden of loss, the complexity of human relationships, and the demands of decision-making.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Yet, coping with stress is a skill we must cultivate, not an inherent trait. We learn these skills from our environment, and as we venture further into the gloomy days of winter, adding positive and healthy coping mechanisms to our lives becomes even more crucial.
The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a roadmap to maintaining mental wellness during these dark Winter days.
Here are some key coping skills that can act as beacons.
Read and Research
The more you understand depression and mental illness, the better equipped you are to safeguard your mental health. Seek help from trusted sources and engage someone you trust to assist in your learning journey.
Change Your Thinking Patterns
Redirecting negative and anxious thought patterns can enhance your mental well-being. Journaling your thoughts and focusing on your achievements can help you break free from the shadows of depression.
Ask for Help
Reaching out to others is an act of courage, not weakness. Build a support network of caring individuals who can offer solace during moments of despair.
Even when the darkness of winter casts a heavy weight, exercise can elevate your mood and mental functioning by increasing blood flow to the brain and releasing endorphins.
Eat and Sleep
Maintain a balanced diet and a regular sleep schedule. Aim for eight hours of sleep nightly, even if your appetite falters in the dimly lit days.
Prioritize activities that bring you peace and pleasure, whether it's meditation, outdoor excursions, hobbies, or simply taking care of a beloved pet.
Relax Your Standards
Be kind to yourself and let go of unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, we're harshest on ourselves, and it's essential to practice self-compassion.
A sense of humor can be a powerful remedy. Laughter can lighten the mood and act as a soothing balm for the soul. You don't need to wait for a comedy show; endless comedic content is just a click away on the internet.
In the heart of winter, remember that help is available, and you need not navigate the shadows alone. To learn more about healthy coping strategies and ways to reduce stress, consider visiting the Canadian Mental Health Association or exploring local resources like "Here 24/7," a 24/7 service dedicated to assisting with addictions, mental health, and crisis situations in Waterloo Region. You can reach them at 1-844-HERE247 (1-844-437-3247).
Lissette Mairena Wong
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