The WHO, no not the band, but the world governing body of wellness, the World Health Organization, has declared October 10th, World Mental Health Day. Thank goodness because I for one, need the reminder to take care of that part of my wellness.
According to WHO (yes I meant that) the day carries “the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”
I must admit, I thought I had wellness all figured out. Eat Clean, check! Exercise, check! Emotional self-care – not so much. The same governing body celebrating mental health, suggests that total wellness involves looking after your head/heart space as much as looking after cutting up your glutes or whipping up an avocado smoothie. It’s right up there on the wellness scale!
Then why is it so difficult for us to dial in to our emotional places and give them much needed care? Although talk of meditation and crystal healing energy work are quickly becoming mainstream, we still shove our emotions down into the deepest of places inside ourselves. Why ever would we need to talk about how we feel? How our day is really going? The hurts we are dealing with? And so much more.
I’m frightened to learn that more than half of mental illness begins at the age of 14. That makes it too late for me and definitely too late for my daughters, if I wanted to have a positive impact on their mental health. But they, and I, weren’t raised during the peak of cyber bullying, account hacking and publicly explicit IG photos of them coming out of the shower while “friend” snaps photo. It’s a different game now. It feels much more challenging, more pervasive. The stories of young people committing suicide feel all too common for me, as if that word should ever be associated with the act. Yet it is so.
According to the CDC, in 2016 the following statistics were reported:
- Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34
Sobering n’est-ce pas?
I started practicing yoga, ujjayi breathing, meditation and journalling after the loss of my son, husband and business in a period best described as dark and horrible. Trust me! I found meditating extremely challenging because it felt like my brain was on a hamster wheel with no Off button. Over time and with gentle patience, I have gotten to a point where I now meditate at least 20 minutes every day, if not more. I’m feeling better.
Days such as this one, placing mental health front and centre, help us to think more widely about this critically important component of wellness. Having open conversations about mental health and strategies to build resilience in an increasingly demanding world, help to widen the discussion. In my opinion, normalizing mental health as part of your overall pursuit of wellness, along with exercise and nutrition, takes the stigma out of it.
Practice strategies for building mental health through any one, or all of the following:
- Exercise for 30 minutes/day at a Max Heart Rate of 65% or higher.
- Practice gratitude to raise vibrational and emotional energy. List at least 10 things daily. Write these in a journal for best results.
- Practice mantras celebrating your strengths á la Wayne Dyer … “I am that I am…”
- Practice ujjayi breathing. Taken from yoga, ujjayi breathing is a deep and meditative form of breath work, where you gently constrict the back of your throat and make the “ocean” sound. It is sometimes called the “victorious” breath. !0 minutes!
- Eat Clean. It can’t be stressed enough. Nourishing foods nourish mind, body and soul because they are living, high energy foods. Nutrients from such foods feed the body deeply.
- Pay it forward. Do something kind for someone else, unbidden. Do this for a stranger. Just do it. Give with no idea of wanting something in return.
- Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Turn off screens well before bedtime – at least an hour – and snuggle under the covers. Eight hours of rest is ideal.
- Meditate. Spend at least 15 minutes a day meditating. Science backs this practice: lowers anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, stress and so much more. Meditate. It works. My personal favourite is Wayne Dyer’s I Am That I Am meditation. Total bliss!
Don’t wait to implement any of these strategies. Implement one or all. But do it today. Since it’s beautiful outside, I am going to take care of my mental health by taking a walk. Placing myself in the glory of nature, especially at this time of year, helps me relax and reconnect.
Take good care of you on this World Mental Health Day and every day.
Hugs and love,