INVESTING IN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping your mind in shape is more important than before. The whirlwind of changes from Covid-19 pandemic can be daunting for your mental health and it is an issue worth your attention. Mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. Learn how to keep yourself mentally healthy with these self-care tips, together with the people around you.
Why Is Mental Health Important
Every year, the harmful use of alcohol brings death to 3 million people and suicide takes the life of one person every 40 seconds. You might be surprised by the statistics but this is a fact that cannot be denied. Indeed, poor mental health can harm your overall well-being or can even cost you your life.
Hence, it is important to identify the patterns in thoughts, feelings, and behaviours which can prompt timely help for yourself or for someone you care about.
So how can you differentiate good and bad mental health?
The UK Mental Health Foundation stated that good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil several key functions and activities such as:
• The ability to learn
• The ability to feel, express, and manage a range of positive and negative emotions.
• The ability to form and maintain good relationships with others.
• The ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty.
However, if your mental health is not being well taken care of, it will start to deteriorate and you might undergo one or more of the following mental health red flags:
• Being sleep deprived or sleeping too much.
• Smoking, drinking or eating excessively.
• Feeling helpless, hopeless or having low to no energy.
• Distancing yourself from people or having self-harm thoughts.
• Experiencing unexplained aches and pains.
• Being unusually confused, forgetful or facing problems in relationships due to severe mood swings.
• Hearing voices or having persistent thoughts that you can’t get rid of.
• Having a hard time as you perform daily tasks such as going to work or even getting out of bed.
As you juggle with the demands of work and your personal life, stress can creep up on you unknowingly, and the first step to stress management is to identify the sources of stress.
Sources of stress can be classified into 2 categories, mainly external and internal. Work pressure, relationship difficulties, and financial problems are examples of the external source of stress, while negative self-thoughts, perfectionism, and unrealistic expectations are a few internal sources of stress.
If you do not have proper stress management, the overwhelming stress can take a toll on your mental health as you suffer from problems such as having a mental block, poor concentration, anxiety, and low emotional levels. Studies have also shown that the life expectancy of a person suffering from serious mental illnesses can be lowered by 10 to 15 years.
Thus it’s time for you to start making choices that are not just healthy for your body but also for your mind.
Working Towards A Better Mental Health
Being the window to your body and soul, your mind deserves to receive proper nourishment to help you handle challenges, build strong relationships, and live life to the fullest. Here are a few recommendations on how you can achieve better mental health.
• Be At Peace With Yourself
In the midst of hustling, do spend some quality time with yourself to know who you are and identify the things that spark joy in you. Acknowledge the fact that there are things which you are unable to change about yourself, embrace your flaws and strengths as you build on them, and do the best with what you have.
• Pay Attention To Your Needs and Feelings.
Bottling up your feelings can cause you to suffer from emotional stress which can lead to health issues such as heart disease, intestinal problems, insomnia, and headaches.
It is never too late to start taking care of your needs and feelings. Express your thoughts through a pipeline you are most comfortable with, be it penning it down on a journal or confiding in someone you trust. You know what’s best for yourself!
• Volunteer For A Cause
According to Mayo Clinic, volunteering leads to a lower rate of depression and it increases social interaction as it helps to build a support system based on common interest. By being involved in voluntary work, your social networks may also be enhanced to buffer stress and you will be able to feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, which can help with your stress management.
On top of that, the sense of community you feel can also have a brightening effect on your mood as you know that there are people around to support you.
• Befriend Nature
As stated by The Straits Times, contact with nature improves the physical as well as mental health of individuals and communities. Activities such as gardening or simply just being around animals, is effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improve on your mood.
• Include Fitness In Your Plans
No matter how busy you are, keep in mind to obtain at least 30 minutes of exercise a week as physical activity is known to be an effective prevention strategy for depression.
Give your mind a break by having a relaxing Yoga session or get a good sweat in a group exercise class whereby your endorphins are being released. Your fitness achievements, no matter how small, can increase your self-confidence and give your mental health a tremendous boost.
Look Out For Those Around You
If you notice anyone around you showing signs of one or more of the mental red flags mentioned earlier, do keep a lookout for them and provide support when required.
You can be someone’s pillar of support through simple acts such as providing a listening ear or showing care to him or her. Professional help is also available through the helplines in Singapore.
As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health”. While being there for others, do also prioritise your own mental health by giving yourself the same care and attention with these additional self-care tips.
At the end of the day, we are all humans with feelings and it is perfectly normal to experience a gloomy day once in a while. But most importantly, know that it is okay to seek help and be proud of how far you have come.
1. Who.int. 2020. World Mental Health Day: An Opportunity To Kick-Start A Massive Scale-Up In Investment In Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/27-08-2020-world-mental-health-day-an-opportunity-to-kick-start-a-massive-scale-up-in-investment-in-mental-health
2. Mental Health Foundation. n.d. What Is Good Mental Health?. [online] Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/about-mental-health/what-good-mental-health
3. Mayo Clinic. n.d. Mental Health: What's Normal, What's Not. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098
4. Healthxchange.sg. n.d. 10 Proven Ways To Achieve Mental Wellness. [online] Available at: https://www.healthxchange.sg/wellness/mental-health/ten-ways-achieve-mental-wellness
5. Mentalhealth.gov. 2020. What Is Mental Health? | Mentalhealth.Gov. [online] Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
6. Samhealth.org.sg. n.d. What Is Mental Wellness | Singapore Association For Mental Health : Mental Wellness For All. [online] Available at: https://www.samhealth.org.sg/understanding-mental-health/what-is-mental-wellness/
7. Time. 2018. Ignoring Your Emotions Is Bad For Your Health. [online] Available at: https://time.com/5163576/ignoring-your-emotions-bad-for-your-health/
8. Mayo Clinic Health System. 2018. The 6 Health Benefits Of Volunteering. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/helping-people-changing-lives-the-6-health-benefits-of-volunteering
9. The Straits Times. 2020. Exercise For Better Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/exercise-for-better-mental-health
10. The Straits Times. 2016. Green Urbanism And Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/green-urbanism-and-mental-health
11. JOYCE.TEO, 2017. Magic Of An Animal's Touch. [online] The Straits Times. Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/magic-of-an-animals-touch
12. Samhealth.org.sg. 2018. Coping With Stress | Singapore Association For Mental Health : Mental Wellness For All. [online] Available at: https://www.samhealth.org.sg/understanding-mental-health/what-is-mental-wellness/coping-with-stress/
13. Health Hub. 2020. Understanding Stress. [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/425/understanding_stress