Mental Health Week 2021, May 3 – 9
A recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association with researchers from the University of British Columbia, reported 48 per cent of people are feeling worried and anxious during Canada’s second spike in COVID cases.
It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions (even outside of a pandemic). We shouldn’t aim to be happy all the time.
This week — May 3 – 9 — is Mental Health Week in Canada, let’s start getting in tune with our emotions… name it, don’t numb it.
Lu Ripley, director of Community Learning and Engagement at the Crisis Centre of BC has been discovering effective ways to take control of her mental wellbeing as a lifelong mindfulness learner with 15 plus years of experience. She describes managing mental health as being able to handle waves.
So, what does handling waves actually mean?
Waves on the water are inevitable, the same goes for challenges we will face in our lives. Waves are unpredictable and each day presents its own unique situation. We can’t stop the waves or determine how hard they hit, but we can take some actions that will help us ride them.
Emotional regulation or managing our emotions with mindfulness practices can help us ride the waves. Mindfulness can help us become more aware of our emotions, and help us respond rather than emotionally react.
Mindfulness can also help us attain a broader perspective of our lives. We have a negativity bias which means that challenging situations provide more stimulation in the brain and are more easily hard wired, than “positive” experiences. Mindfulness can help us see the whole picture of our lives.
In raising a child, Ripley would remind herself of three things that went really well in the day when she felt frustrated, upset, or tired. It was a simple way to practice mindfulness.
We want to encourage people to remember that mindfulness isn’t about not having emotions or negative thoughts, It’s about being aware of them, and naming them. When we name them, we tame them. And then we can choose more wisely ..
This doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to feel anger or negative emotions. In fact, when people can express their anger calmly, they are better equipped to resolve conflict. As Ripley is quick to remind folks, “when we name them we tame them.”
Ultimately, the easier we make practicing mindfulness the more we’re likely to do it. Mental health is a shifting spectrum, every individual is different and has varying needs. Focus on ways you’re able to seamlessly integrate mindfulness in your life. We need to think of our minds as a muscle – we have to train it like we would any other part of our body.
Accepting our emotions and talking about our feelings can reduce our worries and anxiousness. Waves are part of the human experience and they don’t last forever.
Check out the Centre’s Tools for Managing Stress and Burnout, a 6-week online course.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call:
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
- Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)