Why Practice Mental & Emotional Self-Care?

Your thoughts and emotions influence every aspect of your life. Your mindset and emotional state affect how you behave, interact, and manage life challenges. Currently, by the time Canadians reach the age of 40, 1 in 2 people will have, or have had, a mental illness (CAMH, 2011). At some point in life, everyone will experience emotional distress and issues with their mental health. As concerns surrounding mental health in Canada continue to increase, it is important to understand how to practice mental and emotional well-being, both personally and professionally.

The Mental Health Continuum:

Mental health is the state of one’s mental and emotional well-being and involves living a “satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life” (Mental Health Training PPT) that allows one to build the skills they need to be successful; whereas, mental illness is a diagnosable issue that severely interferes with one’s “cognitive, emotional, and behavioural/social abilities” (QUOTE) and daily functioning. The state of one’s mental health can be thought of as existing on a continuum, based on one’s level of emotional well-being and use of positive coping strategies. In this way, you could have no diagnosis of a mental illness and still have poor mental health, or you could have a diagnosis but still enjoy positive mental health.

Atkins, 2016

Mental & Emotional Well-Being Involves:

Mental well-being involves enjoying emotional well-being and engaging in positive coping strategies. Positive coping strategies may feel good, or annoying, in the moment but will benefit your health in the long-term whereas, negative coping strategies feel good short-term but are quick fixes that harm your health in the long run.

In general, mental health involves the following skill sets:

  • Cognitive abilities, such as attention span, memory, problem-solving, decision-making, and organizational skills.
  • Social abilities, such as verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • Emotional regulation, which involves naming, vocalizing, and moderating your emotions.
  • Empathy, which involves understanding and relating to what others are experiencing without creating confusion between your experiences/emotions and theirs.

Positive mental health and emotional affect promote one’s ability to grow through adversity, cultivate resilience, and live in accordance to one’s values. Being mentally and emotionally well includes the ability to:

  • Be aware of how your thoughts, feelings, actions, and physical reactions interact.
  • Recognize and build upon your strengths while gently addressing areas of improvement.
  • Cultivate a healthy sense of self that has the ability to change as you do.
  • Be open and vulnerable with your loved ones.
  • Self-regulate your thoughts and emotions and self-sooth when you’re in distress.
  • Challenge negative thinking and promote thought patterns that are uplifting, helpful, and healthy.
  • Cultivate a growth mindset.
  • Re-evaluate personal stories you have developed through your past experiences to ensure they align with the person you want to become and the future you wish to create.
  • Express your thoughts and feelings freely in a considerate, compassionate, and mature manner.
  • Recognize signs of stress and burnout and cultivate intrinsic and extrinsic resources to address the issue.

Ask for help when you need it.