The More You Know: Tools and Tips for Better Mental Health
For World Mental Health Day, our team at Modo Yoga has created a list of useful community resources, tools and information. According to Canada’s Mental Health Association, what constitute good mental health are a sense of self, a sense of purpose, of belonging and contribution, enjoyment and resilience. Taking time to self-educate about mental health is not just a way to support loved ones who may be struggling with mental illness but also a way to be empowered and be an advocate for yourself and others, especially in medical spaces. We also know how incredibly lonely and isolating it can be to navigate healthcare services, tools and pathways on your own. We hope that we ease this difficulty for you in a small way with this gesture and challenge you to take at least one tool for yourself, and share one with a friend!
1) A Sense of Self
Mental Health Resources in Metro-Vancouver: Here to Help BC has an amazing resource library that is easy to use and not overwhelming. They also have a tool called P.R.E.P.A.R.E that teaches you how to communicate to a doctor your concerns.Link: https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/getting-help-for-mental-illnesses
- Plan: Make a list of the main points you want to tell or learn from your doctor or health care provider.
- Report: During your visit, tell your doctor what you want to talk about.
- Exchange Information: Make sure you tell the doctor about what’s wrong. Printing out an online screening tool, or bringing a diary you may have been keeping can help. Make sure to describe the impact your symptoms or side effects are having on your day-to-day life. Sometimes it can help to bring someone along for support and to help describe your behaviour and symptoms if you’re unable to.
- Participate: Discuss with your doctor the different ways of handling your health problems. Make sure you understand the positive and negative features about each choice. Ask lots of questions.
- Agree: Be sure you and your doctor agree on a treatment plan you can live with.
- Repeat: Tell your doctor what you think you will need to take care of the problem.
Mental Health Checklist: One of the toughest challenges with seeking help is communicating and articulating pain associated with mental illness to our friends, family and to medical professionals. This tool, created by the Canadian Mental Health Association, helps you assess the complexities of your feelings and care/access needs. It is also a great way to do a regular mental health check in, especially in busy work weeks as a way of finding balance again. Link: https://northwestvancouver.cmha.bc.ca/news/your-mental-health-checklist/
Meditation: When you can’t find the time to get to the mat, there is a way to fit in those inhales and exhales! With so much of our lives centred around technology usage, one way to fit in mindfulness on your way to work, picking up the kids or during a study break are these amazing meditation apps that really help with managing anxiety and stress levels. If technology is the source of your stress, try out our guided meditation classes at the studio or build your own practice at home. There are so many ways to find breathing space. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#stop–breathe-amp;-think
Physical Exercise: Whether it’s the boost in happiness hormones (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin), a way to get a solid sleep, exercise is not just about the heart and the body. It does wonders for the mind and spirit. Try out different styles of exercise and change it up to meet your body, mood and mental health wherever they maybe.
Spoon Theory: This communication tool is a way for folks living with chronic illness to gain a sense of energy levels and explain to friends and family how they feel and what they have the energy for on a particular day. It is a way to explain to a friend last minute cancellations because of illness, anxiety or pain as opposed to feeling guilty for not being able to carry out social responsibilities. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/resources/pain-self-management/using-spoon-theory-explain-chronic-pain
Counselling Services and Crisis Support: The Multiple Sclerosis Society has created an amazing guide for reduced cost and affordable counselling services in the metro-vancouver region. Link: https://mssociety.ca/library/document/6QVD0rM3a4uRNlXYOSqpiHcWIK8bgjfJ/original.pdf
2) A sense of purpose
Giving: Whether it’s a smile, your time, or your service, giving back is good for the soul. But there are some days where giving to others comes at the expense of your health. Persian Poet Hafez says, “there are different wells within your heart/some fill with each good rain/others are far too deep for that/in one well/you have just a few precious cups of water/that love is literally something of yourself/ it can grow as slow as a diamond if it is lost.” What is often lost in conversations on self-care is the beauty of community care. When we articulate our needs for care to others, we give loved ones the joy and pleasure to care for us in a time of need. In doing so, they receive just as much from the experienced as the person being cared for. Sometimes our way to give is to receive.
Community Volunteering: If you are in a place to give time and expend energy, call, email or drop by a local school, not-for-profit organization or community centre to see how you can get involved. One great place to start is: https://charityvillage.com/. Ask yourself, how can you be a better neighbour? Another way to be a part of a beautiful community is to be an energy exchanger at Modo Yoga!
Conversations: Sometimes our loved ones know us better than we know our selves. A unique (and daring) way to get a sense of your skills, strengths and beauty is to ask! It is also a great way to practice communicating our needs for affection and attention and building trust and intimacy in our friendships. Make a list of questions, treat a friend to coffee and see where the conversation leads you!
Daily To-Do Lists: Who says you need to have a wedding to plan, or be a CEO for a checklist? There is something about checking off a mundane task and seeing a list of completed tasks at the end of the day. It is a way of celebrating the little wins of your day. We can be so tough on ourselves for not working hard enough, longer hours, or as fast paced as others, that we forget about how much we accomplish each day. Whether it’s a goal to meet your daily water intake, connect with a loved one or finish an assignment, seeing it all written down on a piece of paper reminds you how much you are already doing and giving to others!
3) Enjoyment and resilience
Affirmation: A powerful way tore-wire and transform how you speak with yourself and relate with your body is affirmations. In the beginning of your day, ask yourself where you are hurting, what you are feeling insecure about, or what is it that you are anxious or worried about. In response, create one affirmation that will support you in this struggle throughout the day. For example, saying “I am resilient”, “my struggle is real and valid”, “ I will get through this”, is a way to counter negative self-talk and teach our minds new vocabulary to relate with our selves.
A Regular Yoga Practice: Our bodies and minds do a lot of heavy lifting to carry us through the peaks and valleys of life. Whether it is managing the stress of daily deadlines, healing from intergenerational trauma, or responding to a crisis, practicing resilience is energy-consuming and takes a serious toll on our bodies and minds. Instead of working yourself to the point of burnout or waiting for the next crisis to check in with your body’s needs, cultivate a regular routine of self-assessment and self-compassion. An on-going dialogue, on the mat and in our journals, is a way of celebrating the mountains we climb every day, bearing witness to our relationship with our bodies and understanding the long-term impacts of our daily hustles on our bodyminds.
Pod-mapping: Pod-mapping is a tool to map your relationships and assess who in your life you can count on, and ask for support, and when (based on the type of need). It is a way of visually outlining and communicating trust, boundaries, expectations and needs to support survivors of violence in their healing. A pod is made up of the people that you would call on if violence, harm or abuse happened to you; or the people that you would call on if you wanted support in taking accountability for violence, harm or abuse that you’ve done; or if you witnessed violence or if someone you care about was being violent or being abused.People can have multiple pods. The people you call to support you when you are being harmed may not be the same people you call on to support you when you have done harm, and vice versa. In general, pod people are often those you have relationship and trust with, though everyone has different criteria for their pods. (Mingus, 2016)
Download a pod-mapping worksheet and instructions here ( link https://batjc.wordpress.com/pods-and-pod-mapping-worksheet/).
Last but not least, here are 52 ways to be invite more joy into your life! (link https://alliworthington.com/blog/52-ways-to-be-happy)