Every year, in the first full week of May, people rally for CMHA Mental Health Week. It’s a Canadian tradition bringing communities, schools and workplaces together to celebrate, protect and promote mental health. This year, things are looking a little different. We are confined to our individual living spaces, in a time of collective uncertainty and physical distancing.
We’re learning that we need each other now more than ever. It is precisely the time, during and in recovery from the pandemic, to lean on each other. Even if we can’t be close physically with one another, we need to stay close emotionally. Let’s have real conversations about how we’re all really doing. We’re in this together. Here are seven ways to #GetReal about how you really feel – one way for every day of Mental Health Week.
1. Check in on how you really feel
How many times in a week do you ask—or answer—the question, “How are you?” And how many times do you go through the motions, and skip the opportunity to really connect? Chances are you’re feeling more or less than just “fine.” The English language has literally thousands of words to describe how we feel. Check out our article, More than simply fine a long list of ways to express yourself. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, tell them like it really is. See how it changes your conversations.
2. Get social on social media
We’re living in a digital age in which the world is just a touchscreen away. We can reach hundreds, even thousands of friends, family members and peers with the tap of a finger. Now is the time to really harness the power of social media and take the opportunity to use our platforms for good. Download the toolkit and #GetReal by mix-and-matching your favourite social media images and posts. Take it a step further and customize our blank social media images with your own text and then upload to your profile. Tip: Use #GetReal and #MentalHealthWeek in your post to be part of the online conversation!
3. Be generous
Research shows us time and time again that by giving to others, you give to yourself. Whether you volunteer your time, do random acts of kindness or donate to a cause, helping others will boost your mental health and wellbeing. Our communities need us more than ever, so for Mental Health Week, give back. In whatever way you can.
4. Practice listening
The key to real connection? Listening. Really listening. And some studies show we could do so much better at it. The good news is that listening is a skill you can build, and we’ve collected some tips to help you do just that. So, do your part and brush up on your listening skills. Check out our tips for some pointers and then dive in and practice with a friend. Top it off by reviewing your skills with our Listening Checklist. You’ll be a careful, active listener in no time.
5. Check in on your mental health
What better way to celebrate Mental Health Week than to check in on your own mental health? While feeling well means different things to different people, some things might actually apply to all of us: in order to thrive, we all need a good sense of self, and we all need a sense of purpose, contribution, hope, resilience and belonging. To make it easy, we’ve created a simple checklist to guide you in checking in with yourself. Encourage the people you love to check in, too.
6. Turn your camera on
We’re lucky to be living in an age when we can have face-to-face conversations regardless of the distance between us, thanks to video technology. If you have a computer, a smart phone, or a tablet, you can set up video for free using Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp and other video services. If you want to meet in a group, Zoom is for you (zoom.us). The possibilities are truly endless. Try having a virtual coffee date, game night or just a simple check-in. Even if you can’t be close physically, the virtual face-to-face time will strengthen your connection.
Celebrate Mental Health Week by being kind to others. There’s even a new (Canadian!) term for that: it’s caremongering. Showing kindness can actually work to decrease stress, which we’re feeling more of lately. Thank someone for their friendship, or send a kind message on social media. Or reach out to that neighbour who might need your kindness more than ever. What only takes a few minutes, can make somebody’s day.