Hey, we are back for Part Two of our mental health blog issue! Last week we talked about 1) taking time to de-stress, 2) spending time outside and 3) spending time away from social media. This week we are going to talk about 4) staying in touch with loved ones and 5) practicing healthy habits. We worked hard on these ideas so we are glad you came back for Part Two but try not to get overwhelmed with all of these tasks. We found that when we pile up many self-care actions at once, we aren't able to sustain them for very long. Perhaps fit one habit into your day and once you feel comfortable, add another. It’s challenging to set small steps and be patient but improving your mood takes time. Sometimes we journal daily, sometimes we quit for months. Ugh! So we would definitely recommend being patient and kind with yourself.
4-Stay in touch with loved ones
When you are feeling low, it can be difficult to keep up with connections. Answering texts becomes a chore and something you just keep putting off. You are not alone in struggling with this, it's something we have experienced lots during the pandemic. Sometimes even the simplest things seem like too much. Here are some easy tasks we use to keep us connected to the supportive people around us.
Where possible, have meals with family or quality zoom meal get-togethers.
Family (or virtual with friends) movie nights or game nights! Alexhouse YouthSpace also has some fun virtual ways to hang out with others who care (https://www.alexhouse.net/wellness-circles).
Call a friend while you are doing tasks like chores or homework. You don't even need to talk if you don't want to, but you will find it's nice to have a little company.
Alexa enjoys playing game pigeon and PlayStation with friends online. This is an easy and fun way to stay connected with them without too much effort.
5-Practice healthy habits
Drinking water, sleeping, exercising, and eating are the pillars of not only physical health but also mental health. Even though we all know how important these things are, we rarely actually manage to perform them - and that’s okay! Falling out of healthy routines is normal especially if you aren't feeling your best. One of the first steps to fixing these unhealthy habits is just realizing when they happen. Take a look at your typical day. Takara started using a phone app like Daylio to easily track habits (just click a preformed list). You probably already know the recommended amount of sleep, exercise, food, and water you are supposed to get. Next, try and pinpoint what area you could improve in. Small things like mild dehydration can negatively affect mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly-same goes for lack of sleep, food, or exercise. We promise you'll be surprised by how much even small improvements in these areas can make you happier and more productive. Here are some habits we have found useful to fit in our schedule.
Try getting together all the things you need for school or work before you go to bed so you have some extra time to sleep and eat a good breakfast the next morning.
The temptation to stay up late will always be there, so we like to deal with this by giving ourselves one free pass a week to stay up as late as we want under the condition that we make an effort to get good sleep the remaining days of the week.
Sometimes just remembering to drink water is a challenge, but we found carrying around one of those big litre water bottles helps. Setting alarms every hour to drink water can also be an effective trick.
Find ways to make exercise fun. Takara boots up her old Xbox Kinect or watches Netflix on the treadmill. For you, it might mean trying a new running app like Zombies, Run! climbing trees, or having a dance party in your room to your favourite songs!
One important thing to remember about working on our mental health is that growth is not a linear line. Understandably, it can be frustrating when you feel like you've made progress, and then out of nowhere, you have a day or even a couple of weeks where you don't accomplish anything. After those days you may think you have lost all of your progress, but I promise you this is not true! Once you can stop putting yourself down about bad days, and instead accept them and keep going, we hope you can feel a lot better.
If you feel your mood doesn't get better or it starts to get worse, talk to the school counsellor or try local DiscoverY free youth counselling https://www.sourcesbc.ca/our-services/discovery/ or free drop-in virtual counselling through Foundry BC
https://foundrybc.ca/virtual/drop-in-counselling/ or the Youth Hotline 310-1234.
Finally, there’s also a bunch of youth mental health ideas (resiliency, meditation, etc) in our Together-SSWR youth section.
Thanks, Alexa and Takara