10 Mental Health Tips From Ontario Doctors To Help You Look After Yourself In 2022

They're encouraging Canadians to make mental health "a priority" during the holidays and winter months.👇

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10 Mental Health Tips From Ontario Doctors To Help You Look After Yourself In 2022

It's cold, snowy, wintry and we're still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic — which means some days can definitely feel darker than others.

Ahead of the new year, the Ontario Medical Association is encouraging Canadians to make their mental health a priority, particularly during the holiday season and the winter months.

In a notice on December 27, Ontario's doctors explained that many people experience a shift in mood and feel pretty drained at this time of year in particular.

The onset of dark and cold weather can sometimes trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which the OMA describes as "a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter."

If you are feeling the impact of the holiday season, or of winter itself, the organization has shared a number of tips to help you take care of yourself and manage any symptoms you may be experiencing:

Understand the holidays aren't always full of joy

The first holiday-time tip from the Ontario doctors is to try and recognize that December can be both stressful and fulfilling.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, they recommend accepting all of the different emotions that surround the holidays, rather than setting the unrealistic expectation that everything should be perfect.

Breathe

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If things do get too much at any time, taking a moment to breathe "can help you gain clarity on what is truly important."

The OMA suggests taking five minutes (or however long it takes) to stop what you're doing, breathe deeply and observe what is around you.

Gratitude

An act of self-love and self-care could be taking a moment each day to think of three things you are grateful for, or three people that you are grateful for.

The OMA says allowing yourself to feel gratitude is an important aspect of taking care of your mental health.

Set boundaries

The holidays can be stressful, particularly for those who have complex relationships with their family and loved ones.

The OMA says that setting boundaries is important and recommends that they are maintained every day.

Examples of boundaries include how much time you will spend with somebody and what behaviour you are willing to tolerate from others.

"If a relative starts discussing something uncomfortable, such as your weight, a simple 'my body is not up for discussion,' could be a response that sets a boundary," the doctors added.

Kindness

If you want to feel good, how about making somebody else feel good?

Doing a simple act of kindness every day is "known to increase your own kindness," the OMA says.

Whether it's helping out a neighbour, smiling at a stranger or just giving your pet an extra snuggle, you're likely to feel better for spreading the love.

Disconnect

Antonio Guillem | Dreamstime

You may have found yourself at home a little more recently, perhaps due to the colder weather, the holidays or even the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means you may be spending more time than usual on your phone or on social media.

The OMA advises disconnecting from screens, phones, social media and news for at least one hour each day, wherever possible, to "help recharge your mind and engage in other activities."

Instead, you could practice a hobby that you love or go outside for a walk, for example.

Stay social

Nikkimeel | Dreamstime

"Although your symptoms may make this difficult, keep in regular contact with family and friends, both in person and virtually," the doctors recommend.

Connecting with people you love can provide opportunities to socialize, talk and refresh your mood.

It's also a good chance to check in on them too, as they could be experiencing the impact of the winter season.

If you know somebody who is elderly, vulnerable or who lives alone, keeping in regular contact with them is "a great way to show support and understanding and spread good cheer," according to the OMA.

Reach out

Dmitry Marchenko | Dreamstime

If you need help, make sure to reach out to your support network for comfort and a shoulder to lean on. And, if you need additional support, talk to a trained professional.

"If you are feeling suicidal or unsafe, go to your nearest emergency department or crisis center," advised the OMA. "Your life matters."

NARCAN kits

Have a NARCAN kit ready if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse.

NARCAN is a prescription medicine that can save a life if someone is dealing with a suspected opioid overdose.

Make the holidays your own

"Life isn't always warm and fuzzy like holiday commercials," says the OMA. "You deserve credit for everything you've overcome and any negativity you've had to tolerate."

Celebrate yourself, your accomplishments and everything you've achieved by making the holidays your own.

The OMA also shared a list of mental health resources as part of its notice.

This includes general mental wellness support related to COVID-19, support for teens and young people,confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling and more.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact the Crisis Services Canada helpline, which is available 24 hours a day to talk or consult additional resources. If you need immediate assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.

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