From MSVU Counselling Services
May 3 to May 9 marks Canadian Mental Health Week hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association. This year’s theme is #GetReal, which highlights the importance of finding ways to name our feelings instead of numbing them (when possible).
This message feels particularly important in the midst of a global pandemic, as a lot of uncertainty and anxiety swirl around us. We haven’t been able to connect with others in the ways we are used to, nor engage in activities that previously supported our well-being. There has been a major shift in how people have had to learn and work, which has forced us to create new routines and rituals. On top of that, there is the added worry of getting sick and taking precautions to help ourselves, our loved ones, and the broader community.
The #GetReal campaign acknowledges that these are stressful times for many and validates that “good” mental health doesn’t always mean that we need to feel happy or that everything is going “right.” Our emotions serve a purpose and can help us to take action and may also help us tune into how to better connect with ourselves and with others. There can be a tendency for people, especially adults, to ignore or suppress how we feel, but it is important to practice self-compassion and to honour the full spectrum of emotions (yes, this includes the difficult ones too!).
MSVU’s Counselling Services team has come up with five quick tips to help you #GetReal during these challenging times:
- Consider talking with someone you trust, including a friend, family member or therapist. We are social creatures who need connections with others. Sharing our experiences can help boost our relationships with others and help us to realize that we are not alone.
- Try to avoid making judgements about yourself based on what you’re feeling. It can be helpful to think about how we are speaking to ourselves during these times. Consider re-framing to “I feel sad about…” instead of “I shouldn’t feel sad.” Language is important and can have a direct impact on how we think and act. Consider speaking to yourself the same way you would talk to a friend, a loved one, or to the child version of yourself.
- Consider trying activities like painting, drawing, and journaling to express how you’re feeling. Sometimes it can be challenging to talk about our emotions, but writing them down or producing art can help us to realize and express these emotions in a healthy way.
- Tune into your body through mindfulness practices, including deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. It can be difficult to focus on our emotions when we are busy. By taking a few moments to pause, we are more apt to tune into our bodies and able to listen to what they may be telling us. Sitting quietly and with intention can help us in identify where we may be holding stress or tension in our bodies.
- Practice self-compassion. Recognize that if you feel you have been numbing your emotions, this was likely a way of helping yourself navigate the needs of the moment with the tools that you had available. Feeling able to name and acknowledge your emotions is a journey that happens at a different pace for everyone. Be gentle with yourself as you move through this journey.
A reminder to MSVU students: the University’s Counselling Services team is available to support you at no cost. You can book an appointment or access online resources here.
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