Mental Health Balance – Make it Your Business
Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. Feeling well can mean something different to everyone, but there are some things that might apply to all. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association – Toronto (CMHA), “Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process”.
First understanding the characteristics that influence mental health and well-being is important. The CMHA has created a checklist that helps assess mental health. Although not a scientific test and not a substitute for professional advice, it can help raise self-awareness and is a good exercise when learning about the characteristics that make up mental health.
Click here to access the My Own Mental Health Checklist.
Finding Balance at Work
Balancing all the different elements of life is hard. Factually speaking, the majority of Canadians experience “overload”. 58% reported an imbalance between work, family, friends, physical health, volunteering, and community service.” Source: CMHA
While the quest for balance in our total lives may be ongoing, here are a few tips on how to bring about a bit of balance to your workday:
- Schedule breaks several times in one day. Productivity, effectiveness, and accomplishments will all increase.
- Make a list of priorities for tomorrow at the end of today. Having short-term goals planned can assist in feeling organized and purpose-driven.
- Check emails at block times or specific intervals during the day not in real time – depending on your work. After the last check, close your email or turn off notifications.
- Identify what “work” means to you and separate it from the rest of your life. Being available 24/7 can lead to burnout.
- Take time to mindfully eat at regular intervals – don’t skip lunch
- Do something nice for someone else
- Practice gratitude daily by sharing what you are grateful for with your team, writing in a gratitude journal at the end of the day, thinking of what you are thankful for during times of stress and conflict
- Set boundaries and parameters with others to reduce multiple priorities – talk it over with your mentor, CPL or manager if you are needing help with multi-tasking and prioritization
- Incorporate exercise into your day – take the stairs, go for a walk at lunch, walk to and from work or transit
- Incorporate mindfulness into your day – even a minute of breathing exercises can help
Try this breathing exercise on your next break to help with mental health balance:
Take three minutes to focus on your breathing. Get comfortable in your chair (legs uncrossed, arms relaxed by your side). Inhale slowly through your nose (or mouth), count one, two, three; completely fill your lungs. Hold your breath – pause, then exhale through your mouth. Repeat this process for a few minutes and focus on how relaxed you are.
If you are having trouble with this process, try instead to focus on this image and breathe along with its motion: