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This Psychology Month, Make Mental Health a Priority

This Psychology Month, Make Mental Health a Priority 

When one member of society improves their quality of life, it spreads far beyond just themselves. For this reason, Canada has dedicated the month of February to explain how psychology works to help, and to raise awareness about how to protect and improve your own mental health. 

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior of humans. Psychologists apply their knowledge of how we think, act and feel to understand how biological influences, social pressures and environmental factors affect our mental well-being. 

February is Psychology Month. Why Do We Celebrate ? 

Psychology month is a campaign dedicated to showing the impact of psychology on society, and to commemorate the effort of Canadian psychologists who work to improve the wellbeing of many.

COVID-19s Impact On Mental Health 

This year, in particular, Psychology month commemorated the psychologists who are taking action against COVID-19 by researching its impact on mental health and offering new support platforms. 

Throughout the pandemic, measures were enforced to ensure that as few people as possible caught the virus. Though these measures were put in place with the population's best interest in mind, it did cause many people's mental health to decline. Signs that you or a loved one are suffering from mental health issues are:

  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Over or under eating 
  • Poor focus
  • Negative thoughts 
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Worsening of chronic health problems

5 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health Amidst The Pandemic

1. Exercise

When you increase your heart rate, endorphins are released throughout your brain and body that improve your mood instantly and remain long after the workout is over. Regular exercise has the power to:

  • Boost self-esteem 
  • improve brain function through neural growth 
  • Improve sleep patterns
  • De-escalate overthinking 
  • Alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety (tight chest, tension, headaches, etc) 

 2. You Feel What You Eat 

 Cleaning up your diet can cause huge improvements in your mental health. A balanced diet will allow for less mood fluctuations and boost your physical and mental energy. While everyone has different dietary needs, a general rule of thumb is to choose whole foods that come from the earth. 

3. Deep Breaths

The way you breathe affects your whole body. Think of when you panic, your breath is short and quick. Taking long, deep breaths stimulates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight or flight and rest and relax response. Through taking simple, deep breaths, you can reach a state of calmness and:

  • Alleviate symptoms associated with stress, worry, anxiety and depression 
  • Help pass or stop negative or worrying thoughts
  • Balance hormones
  • Reduce mood swings 

4. I Just Called To Say Hello

The pandemic called for a lot more alone time, inherently causing a lot more loneliness. If possible, try dedicating one or two days a week to call up a friend or family member for a chat. Try making a pact with one or two loved ones that when you call each other, you aren't allowed to talk about the pandemic. It is equally important to take your mind off of negative thoughts and feelings as it is to acknowledge them, since it can become consuming. 

5. Raise your Hand If You’re Not OK Right Now 

While it can help significantly to reach out to a family or friend to unload, sometimes it can be challenging to be fully transparent about our mental health struggles. Especially during a pandemic where we feel everyone around us is dealing with enough. Having an unbiased person to express your thoughts, feelings and concerns can be freeing and impactful on your mental wellbeing. 

The Ripple Effect of Improving Your Mental Health

As we gain insights to our own mind, we gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. Therapy, and the self-help measures described above can cause a ripple effect that can lead to healthier personal lives, safer communities, and happier workplaces.

If you find yourself experiencing any negative thoughts, feelings, loss in energy or change in sleep patterns, seek out professional help. Beginning your journey to a healthier mind and happier life is the first step to helping those around you. 

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