Have you ever felt lost in life? Or perhaps you are stuck in an emotional pit hole and wonder if things will get better?
Life is a journey filled with ups and downs and it is rarely as smooth sailing as you expect it to be. There is bound to be struggles and challenges with each stage of your life and with it comes stress, disappointment, grief, etc. These emotions can have a negative impact on your mental health if left uncontrolled.
So, what can you do to fortify your mental strength and boost your overall mental health?
#1: Sufficient rest
One of the best ways to take care of your mental health is to have sufficient rest.
Sleep deprivation slows down your thinking and reduces your energy level. The zombie-like feeling as a result of minimal sleep can cause you to be prone to stress and easily irritable. On the other hand, having a restful night of sleep prepares you for the day ahead and allows you to be more alert and productive.
A common piece of advice you can find online when faced with a problem is to “sleep on it”. Does this really work? A good night’s sleep not only improves your memory but also helps you make better decisions. This is because your brain processes what you encounter during the day while you are sleeping so that it can efficiently retrieve the information when you need it.
* Be it trying to memorise for an upcoming exam or make a tough financial decision, the importance of sufficient rest can’t be emphasised enough. Advice: go through the task at hand once, sleep on it and let your brain do the heavy lifting while you sleep. You will wake up with a fresh and clear mind.
#2: Take time off to treat yourself
There is nothing wrong with taking time off to reward yourself. Having some “me” time can help you slow down and possibly rediscover yourself.
Burnout is a common phenomenon that is affecting many nowadays. While it may not be a medical condition, it is a manifestation of unmitigated stress that has severe negative impacts on your mental health in the long run.
Over long periods, stress can have wear and tear effects on the body. Having some time off can release the tension off your body and let it recover so that you can think clearly and function more effectively when you return back to work.
Did you know that accumulation of negative emotions can also lead to emotional spending?
#3: Interact and socialise
Bottling up your emotions does not solve the problem but only prolongs it. Having someone you can talk to during tough times can make you feel less lonely and keeps your mind off negative feelings. Trusting others with your problems not only helps to alleviate the weight on your shoulder but talking through your problems may help you find the silver lining in a difficult situation.
Humans are social creatures and interactions with others can improve your emotional well-being and boost happiness. Joining community events and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals doing the things you enjoy are some ways you can take care of your emotional well-being and reduce the effects of burnout.
#4: A mindset shift
Managing expectations can be stressful, especially in Singapore, where we’re taught to work hard and expected to produce results. In today’s society where information is widely available online, we subconsciously compare ourselves to others more than ever before. This downward spiral can quickly escalate out of control.
Instead of being hard on yourself for not achieving your goal or meeting expectations, take a step back, slow down and look at how far you have come. Penning down and celebrating every small achievement along the way raises your self-confidence and self-worth which is beneficial for your mental health.
#5: Keep active
Keeping active is a great way to relieve stress. Physical activities increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. This serves as a form of protection against the negative effects of stress. As a result, you will notice an improvement in mood and self-esteem.
You might be wondering at this point, how do you drag yourself to exercise if you are already struggling to get out of bed every morning? If you are not an athlete or your job is physically demanding, you can consider the wide variety of low-intensity workouts from yoga to swimming. Exercising in any form goes a long way towards stress management.
#6: Healthy diet
Diet is often overlooked in the stress-fighting picture. In a fast-paced country like Singapore, having a balanced diet is not an easy habit to maintain. Many have a busy schedule and as such, dining out is often the norm.
Although it is convenient, you cannot control what goes into your food when you eat out. Therefore, incorporating healthy food preparation into your weekly routine can be a start in the right direction.
For those who have a habit of snacking, another way you can maintain a healthy diet is to keep nutritious snacks, such as dried fruits and nuts, on hand. Cutting back on excessive alcohol and/or drug consumption also plays a part in taking care of your mental wellbeing.
#7: Pick up a new skill/hobby
There are times when you just need to distract yourself from a stressful situation. Trying out something new is a great way to relieve anxiety. Aside from keeping your mind fresh, learning something also adds to your knowledge and skill set, allowing you to develop a sense of competency.
Building on the above-mentioned point on a mindset shift, don’t think of learning as a burden or an additional layer of work. Instead, treat it as a break from whatever you were working on previously. This will make the whole process much more enjoyable.
#8: Learn to laugh
A good laugh may not be a cure-all ailment, but it can trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter relaxes the mind, relieves tension, alleviates stress and reduces the effects of burnout.
As we grow older, we mature and learn to take things seriously. Fun and laughter, which used to be more common as a child, gradually became infrequent.
Life will always bring new challenges at every turn, they can either get the best of you or bring out the best in you. Failure at times is inevitable. Rather than crumbling after a defeat, learn to laugh about it, pick yourself up and carry on.
Over the years, there has been increasing recognition that mental health is just as important as physical health and that it is an essential part of one’s overall well-being.
Prolonged periods of stress not only tip your emotional equilibrium but can also potentially hurt your physical health. Hence, effective stress management is crucial as it allows you to regain control and improve your quality of life.