Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson column: Are we willing to do the work on mental health?

This has been a tough year for all of us.

Can we just get real for a moment? I’m not really feeling like a velvety glove approach today. So let’s get direct.

This has been a tough year for all of us. The pandemic. The isolation. The financial kick in the teeth. So many people being affected financially. The spike in chronic stress. It sucks! The year 2020 has been a crap year for so many people.

What are the top three things that people tend to worry about? Usually finances, health and relationships. Have your finances been impacted by COVID? A job. Income. Investments. Stocks. What about your health? Are you as active, or less active than you were prior to March? Eating better or worse? Drinking more? And your relationships? Are you spending as much time with friends that last six months? If you have been you’ve been disregarding the orders to isolate. How is your marriage? Stronger? I bet for some it is. I bet for many it isn’t.

So what’s my point? The point is, for many, an already stressful and over-scheduled and over-committed life up to March got a whole lot more stressful and people just don’t generally have healthy coping mechanisms for this. How could we? Who here has been through this kind of thing before?

OK, OK…I’ll pull back a little here. I don’t like to hang out in the negative and victim energy for long. Feels gross. So let me see if I can add some value here for you.

If you’re curious what I and others have found to be super helpful over the past few months to curb the darkness and try to manage stress, here it is:

1. Have an actual ‘practice’ of gratitude. Saying you’re a grateful person, yet having no intentional daily or weekly focused gratitude practice just doesn’t add up. If you’re not practicing it with intention, you’re pretending and kidding yourself. Do the WORK!

2. Learn about self-compassion. Kristin Neff has some great videos on YouTube and resources online that teach about self-kindness, and how to avoid self-isolation and being swept away by negative emotions. These are easy traps to fall into and are like quicksand! Swampy. Inescapable. We have to WORK our way out.

3. Awareness. That rare ability to step back in perspective. How to view our lives, emotions, thoughts and feelings from 30,000 feet. Be the observer. Being mindful and present. Digest what you’ve got going on and analyze it from a non-emotional place. See what you like, and what you don’t. Then start to action plan whatever tweaks you want to make. Usually a significant tweak or two is enough to make a huge difference in our outlook and contentment. But we have to be willing to do the WORK.

In case it’s not glaringly obvious, the key message here is that we’ve got to be open and willing to doing the work. Daily and weekly. Having the patience to stick with the plan, even though we want it done yesterday is difficult. Yet necessary. We must persist. More than we’ve persisted in the past. We’ve got to be willing to do the work. When it comes to our mental health — the foundation of our overall health — we must persist now, so that we can survive this mess today and thrive tomorrow.

If you’re serious about your own health, especially your mental health (and you’re still reading so hopefully I can assume you are), read those three steps above again. And apply them. Start with one. Start with daily or three times per week gratitude for even 60 seconds a day. Be thankful — even simply to yourself.

I know one thing for sure, that we all struggle. We all have tough days/weeks. We all battle mental health thoughts and feelings. We are all under a lot more stress this year than last. And we are all in this thing together. We all share these thoughts and emotions. We are all the same. I’m pulling for you! Be kind. Be gentle. Be well.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

ColumnSeniors

Just Posted

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

The province has come through with funding for Duncan Manor’s renewal project. (File photo)
Funding comes through for Duncan Manor’s renewal project

Money will come from the province’s Community Housing Fund

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read