Mental Health Week is May 1st-7th

May 1, 2023

Mental health has always been important; this is not new information. 

But as we continue to navigate a new type of existence in a post-pandemic world, it’s become increasingly crucial and top-of-mind.

As we experience adjustments to our work lives – remote or hybrid scenarios, or possibly being expected to get back to the office full-time – the regular challenges we may face each day haven’t actually gone away; they’ve simply been overshadowed or possibly compounded by this uncharted new array of work-related stressors. 

Now, more than ever, the significance of preserving our mental health cannot be understated. But there is always help!

Here is some info from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) on the basics of emotions. Because often understanding a feeling – something that’s otherwise pretty abstract – is the first step in being able to manage it.

Emotional Literacy – The Basics

  • An event can trigger emotions very quickly, automatically, and even unconsciously.
  • Emotional literacy is the ability to recognize how we feel, understand our feelings, and label and express them.
  • When we are emotionally literate, we’re better able to manage our emotions, or “regulate” them.
  • Although we “feel” our emotions in the body and recognize they are there, they can often be difficult to articulate.

Putting Emotions into Words

  • Scientists call the act of putting feelings into words affect labeling.
  • Saying “I feel sad” or writing about what’s upsetting us are both examples of
    affect labeling.
  • When we put our feelings into words, we are actually constructing and making meaning of our emotions. 
  • Affect labeling has been compared to the effect of hitting the brakes while driving a car – when you put feelings into words, you are putting the brakes on your emotional response.

How Affect Labeling Works

  • Giving attention to our feelings can help ease anxiety and decrease obsessive thinking.
  • Naming, talking, and writing about our emotions helps regulate them by decreasing our anger or fear response.
  • Naming our emotions lowers amygdala activity – the part of the brain involved in the fear response.
  • Affect labeling can reduce the anxiety response in our bodies.

Research shows that our health is based on a complex interplay of positive and negative emotions and that good physical health is promoted when we allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum.

Although negative emotional states like sadness are typically not considered “desirable” in Western society, these emotions can actually help us adapt. Further, expressing these emotions can have a positive impact on our mental health and relationships. It is not helpful to numb emotions, but rather to process them and let them pass through us. 

In other words, it’s our response or reaction to the emotion that matters. 

During Mental Health Week, the CMHA will shine a light on community-based mental health care advocates, programs and communities, while showcasing the importance of securing universal mental health care, and the different ways in which mental health care can be expressed and nurtured (through art, photos, music, dance, nature, etc).

For more information, visit