Health Canada recommends that adults “accumulate at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity” every week. That’s quite a bit of exercise. To meet the mark, you’d have to walk briskly, ride a bicycle or swim for an average of over 20 minutes every day.
Without making a conscious effort, most of us probably aren’t nearly as active as we should be. But knowing just how much activity we need every week, simply to stay healthy, helps to underline the importance of making the effort.
So how much time should you spend on your mental health every week?
Health Canada’s website also has a mental health section. It has links to resources and guidance for many conditions including anxiety, depression and even bullying. But the nature of mental health means it’s difficult to make relatively simple recommendations like “accumulate at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous mental activity every week”.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t take time every week to support your mental health.
Recommendations for Supporting Your Mental Health
First, nothing we say here will solve or even necessarily improve any particular mental health condition. If you are suffering a mental health condition that interferes with your day-to-daylife, or causes any undue concern, you should consult a mental health professional for advice.
That said, we all occasionally experience symptoms of mental health issues. And we can all benefit from devoting a little time every day to think about and support our mental health.
Here are a few tips and tactics that can help.
1. Write Down Your Thoughts
This one has lots of benefits. Writing down your thoughts, especially when experiencing symptoms, can help you deal with the symptoms as they happen. If you’re feeling anxious, take a few minutes to record how you’re feeling and what you think might cause the anxiety. Try not to over-analyze or get hung up on your writing skills.
In addition to helping you deal with what’s happening in the moment, over time you will end up with your own ‘mental health journal’. It can help you spot the stressors that trigger your symptoms. That way you may be able to avoid them, or at least be better prepared to deal with them.
2. Think of Things for Which You Are Thankful
There are days when life seems to be particularly difficult. You may not be able to stop thinking about something that’s causing you distress. Take a moment to consider some of the positive things in your life. It could be your good health, a positive relationship or an achievement. Practising gratitude for what you have can give you a break from the negative thoughts and feelings and help you manage them.
3. Reason with Your Inner Voice
We recently wrote about your inner ‘boss’ and some of the negativity that can come from it. Take a moment to listen to your inner voice. If it’s unduly negative, or even abusive, think about how you would react if you heard someone speaking that way to another person. You might explain that the other person doesn’t deserve that treatment. You might point out why the other person is in their situation. And you might ask the ‘voice’ to be more thoughtful.
4. Get Some Exercise
That 2.5 hours of activity recommended by Health Canada can help your mental health too. Just like being grateful can take your mind away from your symptoms, so too can a walk or jog.
5. Build a Mental Health Toolbox
As you take more time to consider your mental health, you’ll identify things in your life that can help you get through the rough spots. It might be calling a friend, watching cute kitten videos on YouTube or simply taking a warm bath. Try to become more aware of your coping mechanisms and put them to work when needed.
If you feel you need help to manage your mental health issues, please contact us here at BRCook Psychological Services and schedule an appointment.
I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.