Taking care of your physical health is important, but don’t forget about your mental health. One in five Canadians struggle with mental health issues every year, and mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the country.
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can use to maintain your mental health. Here are some tips for maintaining your mental health.
Learn How to Deal with Stress
Hospitals can be high-pressure environments, so casual hospital employees need to know healthy ways to deal with their stress. Some coping methods are healthier than others. Unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking alcohol or overeating, can end up making you feel worse.
Learning healthy ways to deal with stress can help you maintain your mental health. Relaxing activities, like meditation, are one strategy. Hobbies, like gardening or drawing, can also be helpful. Experiment to find the methods that are most useful for you.
Eat Healthy Meals and Snacks
During busy shifts at the hospital, it’s easy to miss meals. It’s also easy to rely on fast food meals and candy from the vending machines. This isn’t great for your physical health, but there’s a connection between food and mental health, too. Eating an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for anxiety and depression. A healthy diet is protective of your mental health.
To make healthy eating easier, pack nutritious meals to eat at work, rather than eating fast food. Bring your favourite healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, instead of visiting the vending machine.
You probably already know that regular exercise is good for your physical health, but it’s good for your mental health, too. Physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety and boost your mood. If you’re not already active, try to incorporate some regular exercise into your routine.
Incorporating exercise can be as simple as going for a short walk during your breaks at work. You could also walk or bike instead of driving, when possible. Running, swimming, lifting weights, or other exercises may also be good options for you. Choose an activity you enjoy and stick with it.
Get Enough Sleep
For casual hospital employees, getting enough sleep can be a challenge. Working varying shifts or overnight shifts makes it harder to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Poor sleep has been linked to a greater risk of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. To maintain your mental health, try to get enough sleep.
If you’re working night shifts, invest in blackout curtains for your bedroom to make daytime sleeping easier. Since drinking caffeine can keep you awake, try not to have any caffeine about six to eight hours before you go to bed. If you’re having a lot of trouble sleeping, consider talking to your doctor about sleep aids.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
When you’re dealing with a difficult situation inside or outside of work, you don’t need to handle it by yourself. There’s nothing wrong with asking for some help from others. One option is to turn to your friends and family. Another is to use an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
An EAP is available to casual hospital employees on any of HCP’s plans. This program provides access to confidential support services, and these services are available 24/7. The program provides three sessions per person, per issue, with a mental health professional. If you need long-term support, the EAP professionals can refer you to external services.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. To protect your mental health, try to incorporate these strategies into your daily life.