Ottawa Citizen

Eat your veggies, brush your teeth ... and meditate?

Making mental health part of your daily routine


When people talk about mental health, they’re often thinking about mental illnesses.

When we talk about a physically healthy person, though, who do we picture? A healthy person doing healthy things.

If we thought the same way about mental health, what would we envision? It’s probably very similar to what we think about with physical health: a healthy person doing healthy things.

Just like with physical health, people can incorporat­e good mental health habits that reduce the risk of mental illness and increase people’s ability to bounce back when mental illness does happen. Plus, they make our everyday lives better.


Get the basics right: eat well and exercise. Our bodies and our minds are connected. When you take care of your body, you also take care of your mind.

Sleep has a huge effect on mental health. When we get enough sleep, it is easier to cope with stress, handle problems, concentrat­e, think positively, and remember things. The average adult needs seven to nine hours, while the average teenager needs eight to 10.

Talk positively to yourself. How would you react if you heard a friend say: “I can’t do anything right” or “I hate myself ”? You’d probably challenge them. Your thinking impacts how you feel and behave, so challenge your own negative thoughts, change how you talk to yourself, and see if it changes how you feel.

Get comfortabl­e saying no. You don’t have to ‘do it all’, and thinking that you should can bring a lot of stress into your life. Instead, think about what brings you joy and make time for it, even if that means asking for help with the other responsibi­lities in your life.

Has something been bothering you? Let it all out … on paper. Writing about upsetting experience­s can reduce symptoms of depression.

Practice forgivenes­s. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

Send a thank-you note — not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expression­s of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

When you feel under pressure, take a mental health ‘time out’ by taking a walk, meditating, or doing some breathing exercises or whatever you need to calm your mind before going back to tackle the problem.

Find the habits that work for you; you can start small, adding one or two of these to your daily routine, and build up from there. Your mind will thank you!

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