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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police presence in Chemainus in an actual building is limited to South Island Highway Patrol on Chemainus Road. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)
Petition calls for policing commitment in Chemainus to be honoured

Former detachment member leads the charge in making the municipality and RCMP accountable

Khowhemun Elementary is one of two Cowichan Valley schools that announced possible COVID-19 exposures last week. (Google Street View image)
Two Cowichan Valley schools announce possible COVID-19 exposures

Positive tests at Khowhemun, Quamichan; Superstore confirms more cases

Members of the 4-H Horse Club enjoy the annual horse camp at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds. (submitted)
Farm Credit Canada supports Cowichan 4-H club with cash

On the list of recipients is the Cowichan 4-H Horse Club out of Cobble Hill.

Flanked by CVOLC staff members Kevin van der Linden, Nate Boersen, Lisa Kellar and Neil Ellingson, Ryan Linehan receives his Student of the Month award from Rotary representatives Gregg Perry and Kim Barnard. 
(Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Valley Open Learning Collective ‘ambassador’ named Student of the Month

Ryan Linehan earns award for demonstrating natural leadership

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read