World Mental Health Day 2021 occurred on October 10, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign is meant to raise awareness of mental health concerns and promote positive mental health (https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2021). As we move in to fall and winter, it is increasingly important to acknowledge the impact of mental health and discuss strategies to promote positive mental health. In many ways, mental health concerns affect us all.
Preventative strategies are of utmost importance, especially considering how seasonal winter changes can impact our mental health. Specifically, Seasonal Affective Disorder is the presence of depression with a seasonal pattern. It is a concern more common in Canada and other northern latitudes because of the long winters and reduced sunlight.
As a naturopathic doctor, setting in place the tools now to promote your best future self is key to helping you feel better. I work together with my patients to create a plan. Naturopathic doctors utilize some of the same tools that the Government of Canada, back in 2019, detailed as actions each of us can take to promote positive mental health. These actions can include:
1) Managing stress
2) Regular exercise
3) Healthy food choices
It can be hard to know which food choices are the right ones, the exercise program that is best for you, and which stress coping strategies you should use. That is how a licensed naturopathic doctor can help you; to help answer those questions and employ strategies that are right for you.
It can be difficult to know how to manage stress, so WHO created an illustrated guide with tools to help you with just that. The guide includes grounding and other techniques, such as breathing to reduce stress. Find the guide at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240003927
Meditation is one such way to reduce stress. For those interested in what the science says, David Vago, Ph.D. promotes mental health and well-being through research on meditation and the brain. Learn more here: https://www.contemplativeneurosciences.com/how-to-meditate/
Promoting positive mental health begins with determining any underlying causes or contributing factors so that we can make an appropriate plan. Ordering lab work (blood tests) and performing physical exams are ways naturopathic doctors can do just that. From there, we can discuss specific supplements, herbal medicines, acupuncture, and using light therapy as part of a comprehensive plan to help you as an individual feel your best, now and through the winter.
Contact Dr. Peters for a free “meet the doctor” visit to see if naturopathic medicine is right for you.