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Mental health issues continue to be a growing concern in Canada. However, there is a growing movement to promote awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health problems. The aim is to make it easier to ask for help and reduce the number of people who suffer each year.
Global news reports that one third of all Canadians are at risk of developing mental health concerns. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports that, in any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health problem. 63% of millennials, or those aged 18 to 33, are at high risk of experiencing mental health issues.
The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 4,000 Canadians die from suicide each year. That is eleven people per day. According to CAMH, mental health problems are a leading cause of disability in Canada.
People suffering from mental health problems are twice as likely as the general population to have substance abuse issues and are more likely to die prematurely. Further, 70% of mental health problems have early onset in childhood and adolescence.
Various holistic practices can be used with other medical and therapeutic treatment plans to support those suffering from mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Holistic treatments also complement each other in dealing with mental health issues, creating a comprehensive mental health "toolbox."
Three holistic ways you reduce stress and anxiety include taking a class, seeking a holistic treatment, and repeating self-affirming mantras.
Exercise and movement have been touted as a prescription for anxiety, depression, and stress. Participating in an invigorating class that you enjoy is a great way to produce endorphins, which can help boost mood and alleviate stress.
You may choose to attend a class that is not physically demanding, such as yin yoga or meditation. Despite the sedentary aspects of these activities, they have positive effects on stress and anxiety.
Whatever you choose, holistic classes are a great way to support your mental health. They are offered in a supportive atmosphere with people that recognize the benefits of self-care. The instructors are there to support your personal wellness journey.
The environment is also free of interruptions that may distract from your practice.
The following holistic classes are great for calming the mind and body. For added benefit try practising outside; research shows that being in nature leads to a lower risk of depression.
While as a society we seem to live busier and more stressful lives than ever before, there is also an increased awareness of the benefits of practising self-care.
Stress is a major factor contributing to many mental health issues. Research shows that taking a mental break to recharge the mind and body can have a positive impact on anxiety and depression.
Various holistic treatments offer techniques to help release tension in the body, stimulate blood and energy flow, promote optimal functioning of the body systems, and promote relaxation.
Some treatments to explore are:
Mantras and affirmations are phrases, words, or feelings that are repeated either internally or out loud. They serve as an anchor for the mind, keeping thoughts focused in the midst of many distractions.
Traditional mantras were a part of ancient yoga practice and were often chanted as a way to connect to Hindu and Buddhist Gods. An example is the Ganesh Mantra for success. Lord Ganesh is the Hindu God known for removing obstacles.
These traditional mantras are still a vital part of some spiritual practices, such as ashtanga and kudalini yoga, meditation, and even Ayurveda. In fact, Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe chanting mantra as a form of sound healing.
More modern forms of mantra and affirmation are also widely practised. A classic example is the train chanting "I think I can, I think I can," in the book The Little Engine that Could. If you choose to adopt this mantra though, repeating "I know I can" may be more effective.
Affirmations are for everyone:
For those who suffer from anxiety and depression, repeating affirmations is a simple yet effective tool to stay grounded. Research on the positive effects of self-affirmation shows numerous benefits to the practitioner.
The focus on core values and guiding principles brings about a more expansive view of the self and promotes future-oriented thinking. This in turn weakens the negative effects that failure and criticisms have on your sense of self-worth. Focusing on core values in stressful times helps to regulate emotions.
There are numerous ways you can use holistic practices to promote your overall mental health. Taking time for self-care, participating in a class, and channelling self-affirming thoughts are great places to start.
Be creative. Not all practices work for everyone and it may take time to find what benefits you the most. You can also talk to your therapist or teachers and find out what techniques they recommend to care for your mental health.