Mental Health Awareness Week
Welcome to October! This week, October 4 – 10, is Mental Health Awareness Week across Canada, so we thought it would be a good idea to join the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in spreading the word about the importance of mental health. As the CMHA says, mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness.
Mental health is a state of well-being, and staying mentally healthy is just like staying physically fit – it requires a little effort every day. We know why being physically healthy is important, so why is staying mentally healthy also important? Well, we cannot truly be healthy without it. Our mental health involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with our world. If these processes are disrupted, how could we possibly reach a state of well-being?
There are many things that you can do to make sure you stay mentally healthy and don’t get worn out by the stress and demands of everyday life. For example, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper sleep all help to maintain both your physical and mental health, and can help keep you charged, energized, and resilient.
Alcohol and drug use also have an impact on both our physical health and mental well-being. Just like eating unhealthy foods, alcohol and illicit drugs have no nutritional value and so they create an extra stressor on our body as it works to digest and remove these toxins from our system. This extra stress on our body is now taking up resources that could normally be used elsewhere, which decreases our resiliency in being able to cope with problems or stress. Furthermore, alcohol and drugs can lead to the development of serious physical and mental illnesses such as cancer, liver disease, depression, and anxiety. For some individuals who already struggling with a mental illness, alcohol and drugs can help to maintain or exacerbate some of your symptoms.
So, just like we need to take care of our bodies we need to remember to take care of our mental health. Practicing moderation in the use of alcohol and abstinence in the use of illicit drugs is one step that you can take towards reaching a higher level of well-being. Reducing your consumption of alcohol and/or drugs can decrease your risk for physical illness, as well as support your mind and body in dealing with the daily stressors in your life. In order to accomplish your goals and lead the life you want, you need a healthy body and mind.