Life is a fine balance, sometimes we can strike it…while other times not so much. It can be a frustrating endeavor – we can be hitting our groove, everything gelling together and then boom – life has other plans for us. Family changes, career changes, changes to our body, all of these things can throw our carefully planned and balanced life for a loop.
We know as women that for the most part we try to avoid that. We are planners. We try to anticipate every possible scenario and the best work around, whether it’s the week’s grocery list or play dates for our kids or our next career move – we do our best to map it out, but then the smallest element throws everything out of that finely cultivated balance.
In these down-to-the-minute days that we live in, we are perilously close to the tipping point and with that comes an onset of stressors and impact on our mental health.
Research has shown that by age 40, 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. That same research shows women are more likely than men (40% vs 32%) to experience depression or anxiety and are 3 to 4 more times likely to attempt suicide. The reasons behind this? They are varied and can include such things that we don’t always have control over such as genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors.
Once we hit perimenopause, the hormonal ups and downs along with juggling the other curve balls of everyday life impact our health – physically and mentally.
Menopause doesn’t make it easier. There are some significant changes occurring in our bodies, not to mention other major life events, like retirement, a change in financial situation, caring for an elderly parent, chronic illness – any one of these can put strain on your well-being.
The truth is, there is one critical layer of planning that likely most of us are missing, how to better manage our own well-being.
This is the point where the heavy sigh comes in along with the phrase “I just don’t have the time.” But, we know, that if it were anything (or anyone) else, chances are we would find the time.
Managing your mental health should be at the top of your list at every stage of your life and every day of the week. The first steps are easier than you may think.
The studies are out there; there is interconnection between what we eat, maintaining a healthy body weight and mental health. The key here is to set attainable food and weight goals and do what is right for our own individual bodies.
As above, we know that physical and mental health are intertwined. When we are active (and get outside!) and feel good about our bodies, chance are we feel good about ourselves. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon or working out two hours a day every day. This means doing what is right for our bodies.
Burning the midnight oil happens, but it shouldn’t be a lifestyle. Sleep impacts our mood, the way we think, our behavior and even our physical body. We know that sleep problems can impact us from perimenopause right through to post-menopause so this one may take a bit more focus. Things like following a regular schedule, developing a nighttime routine, turning our digital devices off earlier can help. Also, diet and exercise are additional factors that can support a good night’s sleep.
Whether it is our spouses, friends, or work colleagues, healthy relationships are a key component to good mental health. When we feel a sense of companionship, intimacy, connection, trust and support we are more likely to feel good about our lives. Setting aside time for meaningful interactions with those who are close to us gives us a sense of belonging and that does wonders for our mental health.
All of these steps can be taken in small chunks and incorporated into our everyday lives. We may not be able to control whether or not a mental health issues impacts our lives, but what we can control is how we build up our own resiliency so we can better manage our well-being.
If you or someone you know is having a mental health concern and needs help, here are a list of resources:
In an emergency or crisis
In a non-emergency
Jessica Samuels has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association since 2017.
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. Learn more about CMHA here.
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