We’ve made it to October and if you’re in the northern hemisphere that means you’re thinking about pumpkin spice everything (unless you’re team apple cider), cozy sweaters, Canadian Thanksgiving, and Hallowe’en.
Something you might not be thinking about is October 10th, World Mental Health Day. After the year and a half we’ve had it’s more important than ever that we talk about our mental health and taking care of ourselves.
This pandemic has impacted everyone. And as it stretches into its 19th month here in Canada we’re edging our way back into old routines (with some modifications).
If this long and uncertain transition has you feeling nervous or hesitant – you’re not alone. And if you’ve been giving side-eye to the folks who have managed to pen their memoir or learn a new language or simply seem to effortlessly breeze through the return to the office or social gatherings…take a deep breath with me.
Seriously, do it. Inhale……and…..exhale……rinse and repeat…….good.
We all fall victim to “comparisonitis” from time to time (raising my hand here too) but remember you’re almost never seeing the full picture. It’s okay if you’re not ready to skip out the front door, return to concerts, or get back on a plane. I promise you’re not behind. There’s nothing wrong with you. And my gawd, can we all just give ourselves a HUGE pat on the back for making it through the hardest two years of the 21st century?!
In fact, the numbers show we’re ALL feeling the stress.
>> 96% of Canadians have experienced some level of personal disruption due to COVID-19 (CAMH) (and I dunno who this 4% is but I’m gonna guess they live in a cave off the grid?)
>> 80% of Canadians indicate the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health (CAMH)
>> 1 in 5 Canadians screened positive for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD at the end of 2020 (StatsCan)
Again, you’re not alone. We’re all feeling it. And although we’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of prioritizing our mental health, maybe we haven’t been talking about it enough because we’ve bought into the cult of toxic positivity or because there’s still so much stigma surrounding mental health.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and well, they’re connected (ever had nervous farts or sweaty palms before a big presentation? No? Just me?). Your mental health is just as deserving of your time, attention, and care. And just like you seek help from your doctor when something goes wrong with your body, you should absolutely ask for help when you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed.
You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken arm to get over it. And you wouldn’t tell someone with strep throat to think positively. That advice is just as useless when it’s a mental health issue.
If there’s one silver lining of this pandemic, it’s that I have hope that the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly eroding. With the courage of people like Simone Biles or Naomi Osaka speaking out and prioritizing their mental health. And when I hear stories from friends who say their kids are talking openly about stress, anxiety, and mental health with their peers.
I have hope for all of us to engage in these conversations with compassion and a willingness to listen to one another. I have hope that we can normalize asking for help. And that in doing so, we might just save lives.
I’m checking in on my mental health all the time with regular therapy, journaling, meditation, and chatting with friends. I seriously don’t know where I’d be without these tools.
This October also marks the one-year anniversary of the trip to my friend’s cabin in the woods. Ya, that one where I had the realization that my nervous system had been on high alert for so long I didn’t even notice I was literally buzzing?! And that it took getting out of the city and giving my body the break it needed so I could recalibrate and evaluate WTF I was doing with my life?! (read more here). Ya, THAT one. Well, I’m excited to return to the cabin again, to reflect on what’s happened this year, reconnect with nature, and slow down even more.
Let me say it again for those in the back – making it through this pandemic is a WIN. So, be gentle with yourself. Continue to be kind and compassionate and heap on the empathy like a warm blanket because we are way too hard on ourselves. Be kind to others as well. We’re all navigating this the best way we know how, which may or may not align with how you’re personally doing it. LEAD WITH LOVE. And if you find yourself frustrated (again), ask yourself, “What would love do?”
Speaking of love (how’s that for a segue) I’ve created a challenge that I’m so excited to share with you.
It’s called the Fall Back in Love With Yourself Challenge and it’s happening all month on Instagram.
We are each setting our own wellness/self-love/self-care goals to work towards and I’ll be showing up every day with an affirmation + a little coaching wisdom to guide you on your way.
My hope is that over the month of October we rediscover all the amazing things about ourselves that maybe we’ve forgotten or been too quick to dismiss. Because when we love ourselves well we also open ourselves up to receive love.
You don’t have to start back at the beginning (but you can if you want to). You’re not behind if you jump in today.
It’s all happening on Instagram. Read the affirmation and share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be able to respond together as a community, share what we’re learning, and encourage each other along the way.
You’re not alone. We’re all in this together. That’s the power of community.
If you’re struggling and ready to ask for help here is a list of mental health resources. (not personally endorsed by me, although I have had great experiences with Wellness Together Canada).
www.bouncebackontario.ca (more self-guided with coaching support)
AbilitiCBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – free in ON and MB, other provinces $500)
camh.ca (Center for Addiction and Mental Health)
ycei.org (Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence – has a free course for teachers and an upcoming online conference)
This CBC article summarizing what’s available.
Betterhelp.com (starts at $40/week)
You don’t have to suffer in silence. The last 19 months have been hella difficult for everyone and there is no shame in reaching out for help. Feel free to forward this post if you know someone who could use these resources or if you think they’d love to join our Fall Back in Love with Yourself Challenge on Instagram.