World Mental Health Day: Transitioning into Fall with a Clear Mind

Thanksgiving weekend is now behind us, taking with it the warm weather and extended hours of sunlight. The transition from summer to fall can be a difficult one for some people, knowing that rainy days and harsh, cold weather are just around the corner. In the workplace, this can also be associated with an increased workload, as vacation season comes to an end and campaign season begins.

With so much going on, it can be difficult for people to care for themselves. This is particularly important to recognize today, as the world celebrates World Mental Health Day 2018. According to a new survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association, over half (53 per cent) of Canadians consider anxiety and depression to be an “epidemic” in Canada. It’s clear that mental wellbeing is being recognized as a top concern among Canadians and an issue that is growing, yet there are large numbers of individuals that continue to suffer in silence and allow the illness to affect their lives.

According to a recent survey by Morneau Shepell and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year, equating to 500,000 employees unable to work every week. While Canadian employers are recognizing this “epidemic” and providing additional resources to affected employees, it’s important that individuals begin to recognize early signs of feeling down/overwhelmed and take proactive measures to stay mentally healthy. While it can be difficult to jump back into the swing of things following a gloomy weekend, if we take extra steps to take care of our own mental health, we increase the likelihood that we’ll be successful and happy.

To navigate the seasonal changes with a clear mind in the office, consider the following:

1. Take care of your body and mind: Prioritize things that will make you feel better, both physically and mentally. Take time out of your day to exercise (even if that means a 30-minute walk during lunch hour), eat healthy and get a good sleep. Also, avoid looking at your phone screen immediately before bed. Your body and mind will thank you later.

2. Allow yourself to unplug: While we work in a 24/7 business, when you can, turn your phone and computer off during your weekends and scheduled vacation time. Whether you’re hanging out with family and friends, or binging Netflix on your own, it’s important that you take time for yourself without worrying about distractions.

3. Invest in a hobby and spend time every day nurturing it: We often get so caught up in our work that we avoid spending additional time on the hobbies that we love. Consider this a “mental health break” – spend a minimum of 10 minutes each day on something you love outside of the office, such as listening to your favourite album/podcast, reading a great book or journaling. Brain breaks are healthy and scheduling a time to enjoy these will increase your overall mental wellbeing.

4. Take advantage of the resources available to you: Most organizations have confidential mental health support available to employees through their benefits plans, such as Morneau Shepell’s employee and family assistance programs. Do your research to see what is available to you through your workplace or community.

While taking time for yourself sounds easy, it can be hard to actually implement when life’s pressures are weighing you down. However, if you’re able to implement even just one of the above tips, you can be sure that you’ll feel better going into each and every day. Going into the next few weeks, we challenge you to make improving your mental well-being a resolution. Why wait until New Years?