Find your balance
Top tips to maintain mental wellness at work
The first weeks of May are a time of renewal on campus - classes and exams are over and the early buds of a new season are in bloom. It's a great time to step back, take a breath and think about life balance.
The Canadian Mental Health Association's (CMHA) Mental Health Week - May 7 to 13 - offers the opportunity to consider the role mental health plays in your life balance. Mental wellness isn't defined by a lack of mental illness - everyone has a sliding scale of mental health and there are things you can do to help keep that scale tipped in your favour.
"Be mindful of what works for you," says Dr. Sameena Merchant, a family physician with SAIT's Health Services Clinic. "An introvert and extrovert will need to recharge their batteries in different ways. Practice self-care and be aware of what you need to stay healthy."
The path to life balance is an individual journey, but maintaining mental health at work is a key part of overall health. Merchant shares her top tips for making mental wellness a priority in the office.
Take a break
"This time of year, I'm a big believer in getting outside," says Merchant. "Removing yourself from your desk and changing the scenery allows you to separate your mind from your work and take a true break."
Tip in action: Ditch the routine of lunch at your desk - get out and embrace the sunshine for an energizing pause in the day's work.
"Working out has been found to be just as effective as medicine for treating mental health issues," says Merchant. "Try 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise a day to experience the best results."
Tip in action: If you're looking for a way to incorporate a workout into your daily routine, head over to the Wellness Centre to take advantage of the equipment and recreational programming. Not up for a trip to the gym? A walk around campus is a great way to get exercise in.
"In addition to exercise, mindfulness - reflection or meditation - is also an effective way to battle mental health issues and maintain mental wellness," says Merchant. "Guided meditations are available for download in the app store and you can listen to them on your phone over your lunch break."
Tip in action: The spring weather offers a great opportunity to take your meditation outdoors, and there are plenty of spots on campus to sit, relax and enjoy a quiet moment.
Be kind to yourself
"This tip extends beyond the workplace, but it's so important to take care of yourself," says Merchant. "Carve out time for yourself - without the guilt. Do something that makes you happy. You will be better equipped to do well in other areas of your life if you are taking care of your needs first.
"Think about how you talk to yourself. Are you your own best friend or are you a bully? Often, we set unrealistic expectations and then berate ourselves when we don't meet them. Change the internal dialogue. Recognize when you're being too hard on yourself and try to be supportive instead."
Tip in action: Try to talk to yourself the way you would a valued friend. Stop negativity in its tracks by writing down self-criticisms, crossing them out and re-shaping those criticisms into affirmations of understanding and constructive advice.