Staying Mentally Healthy
As we age, we face many changes and many sources of stress – we are not as strong as we used to be, illness is more of a problem, children move away from home, people we love die, we may become lonely, and eventually we must give up our jobs and retire. Coping with all these changes is difficult, but it can be done. The keys to coping include your long-term lifestyle, your ability to expect and plan for change, the strength of your relationships with surviving family and friends, and your willingness to stay interested in and involved with life.
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.
Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. We can be creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We feel the sadness and anger that can come with the death of a loved one, a job loss or relationship problems and other difficult events, but in time, we are able to get on with and enjoy our lives once again.
All of us feel angry, at least occasionally. Most of the time when we get angry, we get over it quickly because, somehow, we resolve the situation and our feelings of anger pass. Anger becomes a problem, however, if we “bottle it up” or if we “blow up.” Both of these extremes cause problems for the angry people and for those around them.
The death of someone close to us is one of life’s most stressful events. When the death is from suicide, family and friends must cope with sadness at the loss plus all their feelings of confusion and sometimes even anger. It takes time to heal and each of us responds differently. We may need help to cope with the changes in our lives. But in the end, coping effectively with bereavement is vital to our mental health.
The death of someone close to us is one of life’s most stressful events. We fear loss of companionship and the changes it will bring to our lives. It takes time to heal and each of us responds differently. We may need help to cope with the changes in our lives. But in the end, coping effectively with bereavement is vital to our mental health.
Think about your emotional well-being. Assess your emotional health regularly. Consider the particular demands or stresses you are facing and how they are affecting you. Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.
For people experiencing a mental illness, a good work/life balance is critical. The relationship between stress and mental illness is complex, but certainly stress can exacerbate mental illness for some people. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, employees who considered most of their days to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were over 3 times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode, compared with those who reported low levels of general stress.
Some marriages end suddenly while others seem to fall apart over a long period of time. No matter what the cause, if your marriage fails, you are likely to feel a whole range of intense emotions: sadness, anger, hurt, fear of an uncertain future, loneliness, confusion over the many decisions you must make, and a sense of failure at your lost plans and dreams.
We all talk about stress, but we are not always clear about what it is. This is because stress comes from both the good and the bad things that happen to us. If we did not feel any stress, we would not be alive! Stress becomes a problem when we are not sure how to handle an event or a situation. Then worry sets in, and we feel “stressed.”