Johann Hari has said that “the opposite of addiction is connection.” I believe this to be true for general psychological problems, too. If you’re struggling, one of the best things you can do is connect with others. Call your mom. Go for coffee with a trusted friend. Deep, meaningful relationships make us feel safe and seen.
And, if it feels like there’s no one available to talk right now, you can call one of the numbers below. At the other end of the phone are trained volunteers who are there to help, even if that means just listening with care.
Fraser Health Crisis Line: 604.951.8855 (24hrs)
Mental Health Line: 310-6789 (no area code needed; 24hrs)
1-800-SUICIDE (that's 1-800-784-2433; 24hrs)
Research continuously shows that exercise improves emotional wellbeing. Whatever it is, find something that is easy to start. Some people find it helpful to sleep in their gym clothes, so that when they wake up in the morning, less energy is required to hit the pavement. If your running shoes are lost in the closet, put them right beside your bed.
Cardiovascular exercise is not the only form of movement that can help. The positive effects of yoga on mental health are well documented. Click here for a great morning yoga routine that’s easy and straightforward.
As always, consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
Research also shows that using a gratitude journal can do wonders for your mental health. Keep a small notebook on your bedside table, and at the end of each day, write down three good things that happened that day. These things can be big or small. For example, your might write “enjoyed a coffee, talked with Lisa, and tried yoga.” Try this practice for a few weeks and see how you feel.
You can also express gratitude during your day, too. Text a supportive friend, thanking them for all that they do. Challenge yourself to do this with one person, every day.
Meditation can be helpful for a wide range of mental health concerns. It’s not difficult to learn, either. Find a quiet place, preferably with no distractions. Then begin to notice your breath. Focus your attention on your breathing, and when your mind wanders (it will, and that’s normal), gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Your mind may wander a thousand times - that’s ok. Meditation is the practice of gently returning to your point of focus (i.e., your breathing), no matter how many times you must do so.
Try this for ten minutes at first - and over time, gradually work your way up to longer periods.