Today marks the start of Mental Health Week. Between our relationships and responsibilities, our mental health often gets pushed aside. Alberta Blue Cross® recently created a 10-day mental fitness challenge for our business clients, and we want to share a condensed, 7-day version with you. These daily challenges help prioritize mental wellbeing and build healthy habits.
Below is a week of mental health prompts you can use to strengthen your mind. See which ones you like best and make them a part of your routine.
Mental health is dynamic. As our mental state changes with life challenges, we need to understand how we’re feeling and learn tactics to bring us back to a healthy state.
Take a moment to reflect on your mental state. Ask yourself the following questions to learn where you can better support yourself:
- One thing I do on a regular basis to take care of my mental state is …
- One thing I would like to do more often for my mental state is …
- I know I need to pause and take care of myself when …
Though simple, daily deep breathing can positively impact your mental health. A controlled breathing exercise during stressful moments can help to relax you.
Even if we try not to, sometimes we fall into thinking traps. Thinking traps are a pattern of negative thoughts that stop us from seeing things as they truly are. This can mean jumping to conclusions, focusing on the negative, overthinking and imagining the worst possible outcome.
If you find yourself falling into a thinking trap, identify what the thought was and ask yourself direct questions like the following:
- What evidence supports or opposes this thought?
- What are the odds of this happening or not happening?
- What would I say to a friend if they expressed these thoughts to me?
- What would a friend say to me if I expressed these thoughts to them?
Walking has many benefits. From lowering blood pressure and improving sleep to boosting emotional wellbeing, walking is a great addition to your day.
Take a 10-minute mindful walk. Remain in the present and take note of your surroundings. If you are able, walk in a park or natural area. If you don’t have large green spaces nearby, try walking along an urban street where there are plants.
Sleep is crucial to your mental health. Most adults need at least 7 hours of deep, constant sleep each night. Finding a routine that can help you relax and prepare for sleep can be difficult, but it will help with the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Schedule your sleep. When it’s around 30 to 60 minutes before your scheduled bedtime, try unwinding with an activity that relaxes you. Unwinding activities can include reading, journaling, drawing, meditating, listening to music, deep breathing, light yoga or stretching, bathing, showering or drinking tea. Avoid blue light exposure from screens at least 30 minutes before bed. You can also change the settings on your phone or computer to swap to night shift mode or turn on a yellow filter in the evening.
Mindfulness and meditation are mini vacations from life’s stresses. If you’re feeling anxious or having trouble focusing, meditation can help. Meditation is like a workout for your brain: the more you do it, the stronger you become. This is because meditation thickens the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in focus, planning and impulse control.
Follow this 5-minute meditation video to build your mental fitness.
Your surroundings can greatly impact your mental and physical wellbeing. Look at your workspace or living area and see if clutter is affecting your mood and wellbeing. Choosing décor that brings you joy can boost your mood and productivity.
Examine the spaces you frequent at home. Can anything be improved? Look at decluttering, putting away dishes or folding clean laundry.
Reorganize your workspace. Are things you need easy to access? Can your workstation be tidied? Find a setup that works best for your routine and keeps you focused.
Once you complete your 7 days of prompts, reflect on which ones you enjoyed most. Was there something that helped balance your mood? Find activities that support your mental wellbeing and lifestyle to turn activities into habits.
Check out some mental health resources for more information and support:
- Visit Alberta Blue Cross’s® mental health support page.
- Learn about mental health and find supports at Wellness Together Canada.
- Alberta Blue Cross® plan members can log into our wellness platform, Balance®, to access “ask an expert” videos.
- Overcome negative thinking patterns with a self-talk renovation.
- Sign up for our wellness monthly newsletter.