Mental Health by Design   

Mental health by design means that you take an active role in strengthening your resilience. Your emotional and psychological well-being influences all parts of your life—how you think, feel and act. Your mental health affects how well you cope with the daily struggles that may come your way. Creating healthy habits can have a positive impact on your mental health. Be more consistent in doing the following:

1.    Get enough sleep

Establish a wind-down routine—start about 30 minutes before sleep time. A guided meditation, calming music or sounds may help you relax. Aim for a cool, dark and quiet bedroom.

2.    Eat well

A diet low in sugar and rich in healthy fats (including foods rich in omega-3 fats) can help you feel more energetic when you are awake and help you sleep better. Pay attention to how you feel after eating to help you determine which foods best suit you. Some foods may taste good, but leave your body feeling sluggish or bloated. The less processed the food, the better your body may be able to handle it.

3.    Learn some relaxation techniques to help reduce stress

Mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can all help you let go of building tension. These practices can help you bring your mind back to the present moment and help you feel more centered. Acknowledging and accepting your emotions can help you process and release them, greatly increasing your stress tolerance.

4.    Daily do something fun and active

Choosing something you enjoy to get your body moving makes it more likely that you will continue. Go for a walk with a friend or your dog, swim, cycle, dance. Tie something that you love to do, like watch a movie (in your home, walking in place in the aisle at the movie theater might be frowned upon) or listen to music, to moving your body.

5.    Reach out to friends or family, make eye contact, smile and talk

The best results will come from face-to-face interactions with others. Be a good listener, find a good listener. Make sure you put your screens down and built some real relationships.

6.    Find a cause, interest or passion

Having a sense of purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed. Some find meaning from involvement in religion, community or a cause. The important thing is that you are serving something outside of yourself. Find meaning in your work, volunteer, build relationships, care for a loved pet, or develop and share a talent.

7.    Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest

Work on controlling your thoughts, words and actions. Give up trying to control anyone else’s thoughts, words and actions. Listen respectfully to others, make requests or suggestions, set your boundaries and choose your behavior, and notice or focus in on what is working.

8.    Enjoy the present and express gratitude

Gratitude is an amazing antidote for toxic thoughts and feelings. When you choose to look around you for what is good and express gratitude, you will increase your happiness. Gratitude increases resilience and helps to protect your mental health.

Enjoying mental health does not mean that you will never have a bad day, or feel down or sad. Personal struggles are a normal part of life. Choosing to maintain your mental health will help you to be more resilient and better able to cope with and recover from difficulties. It will be easier to find the silver lining and rise above struggles.

When to seek professional help

If you have tried to improve your mental and emotional health and still find yourself struggling at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. The eight suggestions above are still beneficial. But a counsellor may help you move further along your healing journey than you can do alone.