Written by Dr. Allan Burgmann
Life has been pretty challenging lately, hasn’t it?
These past 18 months, maybe even more, have been a struggle. Many individuals have had to give so much of themselves to try and navigate their way through this pandemic. Whether it has been from personal or professional experiences, the way our daily lives shifted has resulted in many increased feelings of stress and anxiety, and the results are still to come on what this has meant, and will mean, for our wellbeing.
That said, I think it is remarkable that so many of us are still caring for ourselves while taking care of others. Just don’t forget—you’re important. You matter. And sometimes it’s OK to take time for yourself.
Take a walk. Take a break. Take a moment. And if you find yourself needing a little more help, here are some research-based tips that can help improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
Exercise does wonders. It leads to new brain cells with better connectivity, improved mood, healthier weight management, better sleep, and a reduction in inflammation. You don’t need to take up cross-fit or train for a marathon to see the benefits — daily walks or yoga sessions are a perfect way to get started.
Eat for your brain
Wholesome nutrition such as following the principles of the Mediterranean diet is another key component for wellbeing and can prevent or delay cognitive decline and possibly also Parkinson’s disease.
This means more greens and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish and poultry and less butter, cheese, pastries, sweets, red meat and fried or fast foods.
Dr. Allan Burgmann. Photo provided by VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.
Connect with your community
Connections with your friends, family and neighbours are key aspects to your mental health.
Social integration and community are crucial for happiness and longevity. So foster relationships with friends and family and reach out if you need help. Talking with a friend when you’re feeling down can have a profound impact. Likewise, helping others also has health benefits for the helper.
An active brain is a healthy brain. Learning or practicing new skills helps keep your mind sharp and can be a lot of fun. Whether it’s working on a craft project, becoming a puzzle master, or reading a new book, stretching your mental muscle every day is not only satisfying, it’s good for you!
Take a mindful moment
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. By immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and feelings of a particular moment you can improve your ability to focus, reduce stress and better manage anxiety and other mental health challenges.
Following these steps can help improve mental and physical wellbeing. But if you find yourself in need of additional support, you can visit vghfoundation.ca/take-care for additional wellness resources.
No one is perfect. We’re all facing our own challenges in our unique and nuanced ways during this global pandemic. Do what you can, and if you’re able to implement some of these steps into your day, then that’s wonderful.
Just remember above all to take care.
Dr. Allan Burgmann BSc, MD, FRCPC (Psychiatry) is an adult psychiatrist working at Lions Gate Hospital. He works in both the acute inpatient and outpatient services at the newly constructed Hope Centre.
Content provided by The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, Lions Gate Hospital Foundation and VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation