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Maintaining Your Mental Health

Why is your mental health so important?

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Mental health is an essential part of your overall health. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being in which you realize your own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work and study productively and are able to make a contribution to your family and community.1

Being aware of your mental health is important because it affects every single aspect of your daily life and ability to function. Without awareness, it’s difficult to pinpoint why you are so stressed or having problems coping.

Maintaining your mental health is a lot like staying physically fit: it requires a little effort every day.

But the rewards are great! Mostly, it’s about finding balance in your life. Everyone has to face stresses and demands, but we all need and deserve a break sometimes. Devote a little of each day to improving your mental health. You’ll reap the benefits in the same way that daily physical exercise makes you stronger and fitter.

At least 1 in 3 Canadians experience problems with their mental health each year.

Everyday tips for keeping mentally healthy

Here are a few healthy practices that can be easily integrated into your daily life. The idea is that a lot of small, concerted actions can add up to a significant overall effect. Apply some of these ideas on a regular basis and you’ll find yourself feeling rejuvenated and more confident:

Learn how to cope with negative thoughts:

Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud: don’t let them take over. Distract yourself or comfort yourself if you can’t solve a problem right away. Try seeing the issue from all sides rather than from just one point of view.

Be in the present:

When you’re out for a walk or socializing, turn off the cell phone and take in all the sights and sounds around you.

‘Collect’ positive emotional moments:

Make a point of thinking about the times when you’ve felt pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence or other positive emotions.

Enjoy hobbies:

A hobby helps bring balance to your life. You’re doing something because you want to, not because you have to. There’s no pressure. It’s a form of mental stimulation too.

Treat yourself well:

It could be a good meal, a bubble bath, a movie, or just sitting in the park enjoying nature. Small daily treats have a cumulative effect.

Live a healthier, more active life:

Eat healthy foods, be active and get enough sleep. Regular physical activity is good for the mind. It can even reduce depression and anxiety. Share your activity with others; social connections are beneficial too.

Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.

Asking for help

While family and friends are important supports, there are other resources out there to help you as well. Many communities have information centres that can provide lists of available services. Or a public library might help. Other possible sources of information and inspiration include:

  • websites of reputable mental health organizations such as CMHA
  • books about specific mental health problems
  • audio and video resources
  • courses and workshops offered through community centres, schools and universities
  • people you admire for their ability to find balance

Build your support system for positive mental health

Good relationships at work:

Supportive relationships in the workplace are important to your mental health. Reach out to others around you. Listen to the concerns of co-workers. Share a laugh with them. You’ll find it reduces stress, and brings more satisfaction and security to your professional and personal life.

Neighbourly relations:

Look across the road or across the hallway. Most of us live close to others but we rarely talk to them. A simple gesture is all it takes to build support with a neighbour. Say hello. Welcome newcomers to the neighbourhood. Be there for your neighbours and help build strong neighbourly connections.

Ties to your community:

Joining community groups, clubs and organizations makes you a part of something bigger. Contribute to your community and it will be part of your social network. You will reap the rewards by feeling connected and having a sense of purpose.

Caring relationships:

When we care for others and others care for us we feel valued. You may find this caring relationship in a best friend, a family member, neighbour or caregiver. These relationships can be the most rewarding parts
of our lives, but sometimes we forget to maintain them. Do you always wait to be contacted by friends? Do you only connect with friends when you need a favour? Make contacting friends first a priority. Make a plan to reach out a few times a month.

Only one in three people who experience a mental health problem or illness – and as few as one in four children or youth – report that they have sought and received services and treatment.

How CMHA and other mental health organizations can help

Learn how to take care of your mental health. Get the facts about mental illness. Find help for yourself or others.

CMHA can help. We have a remarkable team of more than 10,000 volunteers and staff across Canada providing vital services and support to well over half a million Canadians every year.

For more information on how to maintain your mental health, to find Mental Health Week events in your community or to donate to CMHA, go to mentalhealthweek.ca.

Or contact your local CMHA, or any other community mental health agency/organization, to obtain information on available supports and services close to you.

Maintaining your mental health sometimes means seeking the help of a professional.

  • If you have a mental health concern, speak with your doctor.
  • For financial challenges, seek the help of a financial planner or debt counsellor.
  • For direction in your work life, speak to a career counsellor and make a career plan.
  • To repair relationships with loved ones and friends, talk to a counsellor and work through the issues.

 

1World Health Organization, September 2002.

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