6 ways empathy can improve mental health

Posted On May 5, 2022

You may have heard the saying, “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” over the years. But did you know that showing empathy can actually be a great way to ensure good mental health and well-being?

In May, Mental Health Awareness week is hosted, and the Canadian Mental Health Association will be celebrating from May 2 to 8 with “Empathy” as this year’s theme.

To encourage good mental health with a healthy dose of empathy, we have put together a list of 6 things you can do, to improve your mental health, and the mental health of your loved ones.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way to de-stress and centre ourselves. With activities such as meditation, or enrolling in a yoga class, you can find ways to be more mindful. The practice of mindfulness encourages introspection to help understanding our own mind and is a great first step to understanding others around us.

  1. Participate in group activities

Being part of a group is not just great for building a sense of community, but also to have a sense of “I am not alone; we are all in this together.” For example, going to the gym and attending group sessions can help you stay motivated, and when you see others struggling to keep up with the instructor as you may also be, it will definitely give you a sense of relief. Additionally, being a part of group therapy or support groups for those struggling with any mental health concerns, can be a benefit and will give you a chance to help others, making you feel better about yourself in return.

  1. Go for a walk, or bike ride with a buddy

Grab a friend, a partner or a parent, and go stretch out your legs. Staying active and getting outdoors for fresh air can do wonders to our mental health. Whether you like to walk, bike or hike, doing some sort of physical activity can improve your mental health; and it is an added bonus to do this with some great company.

  1. Eat a meal, share a meal

Eating a healthy meal, is key to good mental health. So is sharing a meal with someone you care about. If you know of a friend who is struggling, a colleague who hasn’t seen their family in a while, or even a hungry stranger, offer to buy them a meal. A good quality meal and a good listening ear will help boost their spirit and in turn, will make your heart happy too!

  1. Lend a helping hand

There is so much research out there that shows the value of helping others. Volunteering for a cause you care about, be it an animal shelter or a senior’s home, can not only help the cause, but will also help you. Being helpful and kind will help boost how you feel about yourself by building your self esteem, giving you a sense of accomplishment, and will also help others.  It is a win-win situation!

  1. Ask for help

It is important to ask for help if you are overwhelmed. But most importantly, it is crucial to remember that there is no shame in asking for help and is in no way a reflection of your abilities. We all need a little help from time to time. If sharing our struggles with someone we trust can help lighten our load, do it for your mental wellbeing.

From spending hours commuting, to adapting to working from home, to now heading back to the office; from staying at home safe from the virus, to now learning to live with it, there is a lot of pressure in the world for everyone. Now, more than ever, we need to empathize and be present for ourselves and for others. By practicing empathy, and making these small changes with big impacts, we can all start on the journey toward better mental health this May, and beyond. 

For more tips, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association's website.

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