What is mental health?
Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness refers to various mental disorders and health conditions defined by alterations in thinking, mood, or behaviour (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Mental illnesses are just as debilitating as physical illnesses, but in many cases it can be hard to tell if someone is struggling from a mental illness. Lack of visibility and stigma surrounding these issues cause many people that are suffering to keep their illness a secret.
If you or a friend are suffering from a mental illness please consider seeking support. There are many people, professional and peer, that want to help. You don’t need to tackle this alone!
What is stress?
We all talk about stress, but we are not always clear about what it is. It is normal for all of us to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or down sometimes, especially at University. Sometimes stress can be a good thing; it can motivate us to work harder and help us focus. Stress becomes a problem when is becomes excessive and we are not sure how to handle an event or a situation. Then worry sets in, and we feel “stressed”, which actually contributes to poor mental health and makes mental illnesses worse. It is important to know how to identify your limits and take steps to effectively cope with these feelings.
Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. For many knowing how to take care of their bodies is a no brainer...eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. Easy, right? But we don’t always know how to maintain good mental health.
5 Helpful Tips to Reduce Stress and promote Good Mental Health
Take time for yourself
Feeling stressed? All work and no play? It's important to set aside time every day to promote relaxation and escape the stress of university life. Listen to music, have a cup of tea, read a book, practice yoga, work on an art project, or go for a walk. Everyone deserves me-time, and it’s up to you to make time for yourself! Even a few episodes on Netflix, but know your limits. You could also try some techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or muscle relaxation — all are ways to help reduce stress and induce relaxation.
Spending too much time on the couch watching Netflix? Moving around and getting the heart rate up causes the body to release endorphins, which are your body’s feel-good hormones. Exercising provides stress relief and if you can do it outside that’s even better. Fresh air is good for you, it helps you relax, and clears your mind. This will help you be more productive when it’s time to get back to work.
Dal Athletics has lots of opportunities for you to get moving. Dalplex (located on Studley Campus) has a wide variety of facilities and services available, plus plenty of fitness and recreation programs and classes you can try. Plus full-time Dal students also get access to the fitness facilites at Sexton Gym! Or if you'd rather play a sport, you can get involved in intramurals or one of the many sports clubs Dal has to offer.
Try this 5 minute yoga app and de-stress now!
Spend time with those you love
Need a hug? Having friends who are willing to listen and support you through good and bad times is essential. Take time to nurture friendships and be PROsocial. Grab a coffee or tea, catch a movie, or take a walk together. Spending time with an animal can also help with stress. Studies show that pets have a calming effect and can even lower blood pressure.
Want to spend some time cuddling a dog or cat? Visit the Dal student health promotions event calendar to see when the puppy/kitten room is open.
Catch some Zzzz...
Too many late nights? The human body needs a chance to rest and repair itself after a long and stressful day. Sleeping rejuvenates the body and mind so you're ready to tackle another day. A full night’s sleep is important, but naps can also be very beneficial in reducing stress and giving you energy.
Track your sleep patterns today with this sleepbot app.
Eat good food
What did you have to eat today? Eating foods that are good for you not only improves your physical health, but also plays a major role in your mental health. When your body gets the proper nutrients, it's better able to function in every capacity. The odd chocolate bar can't hurt either.
Check out this article about 5 foods that improve mental health!