Have you ever felt anxious, down, or depressed and struggled to understand why?
Or, have you felt something was missing in your life, but didn’t know what it was? With the uncertainty we are all dealing with due to the Coronavirus, you might be feeling many of these right now.
With so much change and uncertainty, people need a framework that will help them maintain and improve their wellbeing and mental health. One of the first steps you should take to feel safer and less anxious whilst you’re out of your house is to wear a face mask and/or protective visor. Anything you can do to feel less anxious whilst you’re in an unsafe environment such as a shop will help your mental health.
We all know the stats. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five people will struggle every year with mental illness.
The problem we face is those stats haven’t changed for years. Let’s think about that for a moment. If you have a car, it probably has 5 tires – four you drive around on and one spare. Now if you got a flat in one of those tires, you’d get it fixed, wouldn’t you? Yet here in Canada and around the world, we are treating and repairing that flat tire again and again.
What we need to do is start looking at why we are constantly struggling with a flat tire.
Fortunately, national and international organizations like the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, The World Health Organization, analytics organizations like Gallup, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Centres for Disease Control all have research on wellbeing. Positive Psychology research provides us with tools to help people get and stay well.
I started Five Star Wellbeing and started working with Natural Choices because I believe we need to get practical information and tools into the hands of ordinary people and organizations so we can more effectively treat and prevent mental illness.
I called my business Five Star Wellbeing because we know that people can significantly improve their chances of having wellbeing, positive mental health, and good quality of life by focusing on five important areas of life; Purpose, Social, Physical, Financial, and Community.
Purpose: means having activities or work that we find engaging and rewarding.
Social: means having caring, supportive relationships and love in our lives
Physical: means having good physical health, avoiding unnecessary illness, and having the energy to enjoy our day to day activities.
Financial: means feeling in control of our financial lives and feeling stable and secure about our financial future.
Community: Means having a sense of connection and belonging to the communities where we live and work and we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves.
These areas are complex and interconnected. What the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted is that life circumstances can affect us across many areas of life, and when they do, we need a plan. That’s because when someone struggles for too long in any one area, the stress can affect their mental and physical health.
If you haven’t been able to work during the pandemic, you might find yourself struggling financially, lacking a sense of meaning and purpose because you can’t work, feeling disconnected from important friends and the sense of belonging you get from participating in your community.
If you weren’t aware of these five important areas or had no way to measure them, you may not understand just how deeply you are suffering.
But knowing and regularly assessing these areas means you could start taking actionable steps. You might invest more time with family and friends outside of work. You could focus on new hobbies or look for part-time work. You could make a point of connecting with others online.
Everyone’s situation is different, but this framework is great for mental health because it helps us understand why we might be struggling, without ignoring where things are going well in our lives.
I’ve developed a free and simple online assessment you can do to assess your wellbeing. It can be found at www.fivestarwellbeing.com/assessment. It only takes about 7 minutes. I use it with individuals throughout the counseling process, but you can share your results with your doctor, or just for discussion with loved ones. I also use it in workshops and webinars with companies and organizations looking to improve the overall wellbeing and mental health of their employees.
The coronavirus is impacting everyone a little bit differently. Maybe you can’t do activities or work that is meaningful and rewarding to you. Maybe you can’t see or hold the people you love most? Perhaps it’s harder to keep a routine, to eat, sleep, exercise or get the treatments you need. Maybe you’re facing serious financial uncertainty, or you can’t take part in the community or spiritual activities that ground you.
This is a time to be patient and kind to ourselves. If you or someone you know isn’t at their best take the Five Star Wellbeing Quality of Life Assessment.
Take care of yourself and stay well.
Derrick McEachern is a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) in Nova Scotia, and a Canadian Certified Counsellor. He provides therapeutic counseling at Natural Choices in the areas of mental health, addiction, healthy relationships, grief and loss, and career and life transitions. You can reach him or book an appointment at www.fivestarwellbeing.com.