This week at Alberta Blue Cross® we’ve been talking a lot about feelings in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s #GetReal about how you feel campaign. They asked us all to get real with our emotions and to “name it, don’t numb it”. Only by acknowledging our feelings, even those hard ones like fear, doubt and anger, can we start to address them.
Good mental health doesn’t mean feeling happy all the time. It means embracing all of your emotions—whether they feel good or challenging or difficult. It’s all part of being human. Although negative emotional states like sadness are not usually considered desirable in Western society, these emotions can actually help us adapt. Expressing so-called negative emotions can have a positive impact on our relationships. By sharing, we can find support from others, build trust in new relationships and even deepen intimacy.
This Mental Health Week, let’s name, express and deal with our emotions—even the uncomfortable ones. Because heavy feelings lighten when you put them into words. Whether that’s talking to a professional or a friend or writing in a journal―when we put words to feelings, we lessen the burden. Getting comfortable with our emotions is an important part of self-care.
This week some of our employees have shared how they deal with emotions and work self-care into their lives. Here are just a couple.
“One thing I do for my mental health and well-being is to “stay open” when I feel inner resistance to things. This means when something in my external environment or in my own thoughts seems to cause me to close down or resist, I have awareness that this is happening and use my will to open up, relax and allow myself to feel whatever is there for me to feel. I refrain from passing judgement, but I do give myself permission to feel any emotions or sensations associated with that resistance and act as a witness to the whole process (mindfulness), to ensure I stay empowered and not at the mercy of the emotions.
This practice is important to me because it allows the trapped emotions in the subconscious mind to be released, thus bringing me closer to total freedom. It allows one to have less “buttons” to be pushed and be more capable of maintaining inner peace in the face of any situation.
An excellent resource to learn this technique in depth is a book called “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. His other book, “The Surrender Experiment” is a fantastic autobiography and a great introduction to the author.”
“Laughter helps me stay mentally healthy. It eases my anxiety, improves my mood and shifts my perspective. Sharing humour is half the fun! I recommend “Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American” on Netflix.”
“Hello, my dear old friend, what are you trying to keep me safe from today?” On my good days, this is what I remember to say to my inner critic voice. You know it, the thought that tends to criticize or reprimand you or casts doubt on your ability to face the situation. I’m learning to approach that part of me with some curiosity and kindness.
It came as a great surprise to me to learn that our minds are not always our friends. That sometimes what our mind tells us is not true. That was a revelation and has started me on a lifetime journey to be more self-compassionate.
My psychologist suggested that I try doing “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook” by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. It has helped me learn some wonderful strategies. Not everything worked for me, and I don’t always remember to use them, but I do know that every day brings some opportunity to practice them.”
Naming or labelling our emotions can help us understand and process them. It can even make us feel better. However, if your emotions are overwhelming, persistent and/or are interfering with your daily life, it is important to seek mental health supports. Here are a few resources you can work into your daily routine or use when you need extra support.
Text4Hope: Text4Hope is an evidence-based tool that helps people identify and adjust the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours provoked by the pandemic. Through a set of daily text messages, people receive advice and encouragement helpful in developing healthy personal coping skills and resiliency. To subscribe, simply text COVID19HOPE to 393939.
Issue specific support
Text Open2Change to 393939 to subscribe to the addiction program.
Text CancerCare to 393939 to subscribe to the cancer program.
More Good Days: MoreGoodDays is a daily messages service like text4hope but tailored specifically for youth. The service delivers a daily dose of inspiration and advice straight to your phone via text message. If you’re low on any given day, these simple messages can shift your perspective and give you something positive to build on. Get started by texting MoreGoodDays to 393939.
Togetherall: Togetherall is a safe and anonymous online space where you can connect with others that have real lived experience for advice and support any time of day or night. You can also complete self-paced courses or explore other helpful well-being resources when it suits you. You can access free mental health support all day, any day from any device with an Internet connection. Signing up is easy—go to togetherall.com and use your Alberta postal code to register—it only takes five minutes and you’ll have immediate access to support.
Access 24/7: Access 24/7 provides a range of urgent and non-urgent addiction and mental health services including service navigation, screening, assessment, referral, consultation, crisis intervention, outreach and short-term stabilization. You can access service by phone at 780-424-2424 or if you are in Edmonton, you can access services in person at Anderson Hall located at 10959 102 Street.
Distress Line: The Distress Line provides free, confidential, non-judgmental and short-term crisis intervention, emotional support and resources to people in crisis or distress. The service further supports family, friends and caregivers of people in crisis. When community members call the Distress Line, trained volunteers are on standby to listen to their situation, provide emotional support, explore options and connect callers with local resources and referrals. The Distress Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 780-482- HELP (4357).