The World Health Organization recognizes today, October 10th, as World Mental Health Day. As per their website, “The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”
Well, I consider myself and everyone else a stakeholder when it comes to mental health as it affects us all. Mental health is no less important than physical health and when one is not well, nor is the other.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “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. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance.”
In Canada, it also happens to be Thanksgiving today. What a special day where we can celebrate, have gratitude and give thanks for so much including our mental health.
How we handle and cope with stress and illness ties in too. It’s no secret that, the last few years I experienced ups and downs, and the downs took me to low places. Deep, dark, scary places. I was in such a dark place; I was scared I would never be able to climb out. But I did.
How we think and feel about ourselves directly affects our mental health.
How I managed to climb out of that darkness was unique to me as I am to the next. It took a lot of hard work and courage not to quit and keep looking for a way out. Eventually, the pieces came together, and I saw the faintest flicker. As I continued to seek out different sources of support, the flicker grew brighter and brighter, and before I knew it, I was out of the dark and standing in the light again.
A couple of months ago, during the first few weeks of recovery from my knee surgery, I felt myself slipping back into that dark place and it scared me. I didn’t ever want to return there. No one wants to go back after finding their way out, and that’s what was happening.
What this experience taught me was that my mental health is as important as my physical health and should be taken care of daily. How we achieve good mental health, I believe in a lot of ways, is the same as ensuring good physical health. Eating a balanced diet, getting some regular exercise, getting adequate sleep and finding joy in our day can go a long way. For me, it’s learning to keep things in perspective, being able to let go, and asking for some help when it’s needed.
When October 10 is known for something other than World Mental Health day, that will be a great day! When that happens, it will because we will have ended the stigma and mental health will be talked about as regularly as we talk about physical health, and we won’t need to have a day dedicated to raising awareness.
To celebrate both Thanksgiving and World Mental Health day, I prepared a large batch of my anti-inflammatory shake and pre-cooked a few osteoarthritis friendly meals after attending a hot yoga class led by my favourite instructor.
So, what did you do today for your mental health?