Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


Leave a comment

Mental Health Coping Strategies You Can Try Today!

office exercise

If you cope with mental health issues in your life, you might be familiar with experiencing a stressful, anxiety-inducing or depressing episode during the workday. This episode can be compounded by discomfort because you may not want to show that you are upset while at work. With 1 in 5 Canadians suffering from some kind of mental health issue, it becomes vital for us to develop and hone coping strategies and skills that allow us to support ourselves through difficult moments if formal support is not available.

We all know that learning to manage stress and mental health is a life-long journey, but how can you help yourself when you experience an episode in the workplace?  The following are tangible strategies that can help you maintain a sense of calm and control of your mental health while at work.

Talk (or Write) it Out: If it is appropriate, talk with a trusted family member, colleague or friend about what you are currently experiencing. Releasing some of the pent-up anxiety or bad feelings brings relief to the immediate symptoms that can keep us from being productive. If you are not comfortable speaking to someone or prefer to write out your feelings, take a few minutes to do so. Take note of potential triggers, exactly what you’re feeling and how long the experience lasts. This can help you uncover patterns and predict stressful situations.

Accomplish something: If you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things on your plate, it may help you to accomplish something – even if it is unrelated or minor. For example, if you are worried about completing all the items on a task list for a big project, it may help you to clear your email inbox or complete a timeline of how you plan to tackle the work. Ensure that you channel this feeling of accomplishment and capability into your task list.

Endorphins are your friend: We are all aware of the health benefits of exercise. Even a short, 10 minute walk can do wonders in terms of clearing your head, getting some fresh air and pumping feel-good hormones into your bloodstream.

Coaching Up: Coaching up refers to the process of offering suggestions to your manager or boss about ways in which he or she can support you in the workplace. Sharing only as much as you feel comfortable, tell your manager how you prefer to receive instruction, how you respond to stressful situations, and what times of day you are most productive. This opens the lines of communication between you and your manager so that the work environment is a safer place for you even when you are experiencing a mental health issue.

Be kind to yourself: We are often our own harshest critics and when we become stressed, overwhelmed or down, we forget to be kind to ourselves! Be a friend to yourself and think of what advice or support you would give a dear friend if they came to you with the same feelings or worries that you are currently experiencing. As a friend, you would be understanding and highlight your friend’s strengths and positive qualities. Remember to be this kind of friend to yourself!

Anxiety, worry and even bouts of depression can be found at home and at work, and it is unrealistic to expect us to purge ourselves completely from these feelings or episodes of poor mental health. What we can do is improve the way we manage our symptoms and find ways to support ourselves through a difficult time. What do you do to get yourself through a stressful situation? Would you feel comfortable using any of the coping strategies listed above? I look forward to your thoughts below.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Feeling “SAD”? You are not alone!

WinterThis winter has been a particularly fierce one and with plenty of snow, grey skies and nippy temperatures, when you find yourself daydreaming of an exotic sunny getaway, just know that you are definitely not alone.

While most of us chalk up these feelings to mild cases of the “winter blues”, some of us feel the impact of winter on our mental health more negatively than others, which can be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

As the sun’s rays has become weaker with the shortening of daylight, it can take a toll on mental health and symptoms of SAD begin to take shape, which can include extreme fatigue, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, decreased energy, lack of focus, or weight gain.

During the winter months, the winter blues and SAD could affect your productivity and motivation at in all parts of your life. Here are some ways you can combat these symptoms and make yourself feel better:

  1. Use food as fuel: It’s only too easy to reach for comfort food during the winter months, particularly food that “sticks to your ribs”, as they say. Ensure that your diet consists of vitamin-rich foods so that you can combat illness and unhealthy cravings.
  2. Every bit of exercise helps: Even if you don’t enjoy traditional winter sports, don’t put exercise on the backburner for the winter months. Bundle up and go for a walk, invest in at-home yoga videos or take advantage of indoor pools and gyms. Take a few minutes throughout the day to stretch at work, especially if you have a sedentary job.  The endorphins released while exercising increases your energy for the rest of your day.
  3. Take sun breaks: When the sun breaks through the clouds, try to take advantage! Spend a few minutes outside, soak up the vitamin D and enjoy winter’s small miracles.
  4. Honour your commitments: keep your schedule full and don’t let yourself back out of your plans. When you don’t have anywhere to be, hibernating in bed for 11 hours is only too easy.
  5. Plan ahead: When you have something to look forward to, whether that’s a trip, an event, a meaningful purchase or some other life change, every day that passes brings you a step closer. The winter will not last forever, so give yourself reasons to move forward.  It’s almost over!

How do you combat the winter blahs? Do you have any tips or tricks to making the most of the winter season? I look forward to your comments below!