Mental health is more than just a diagnosis; it is the general well-being of your psychological state and includes things like how well you perceive yourself to be and your ability to cope and deal with the daily challenges and stress of everyday. The Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) 2010, a research conducted by Institute of Mental Health (IMH), found a 12% lifetime prevalence of mental disorders among the general population in Singapore – more than one in every 10 people.
There is no lack of emphasis on our physical health, but the same can’t be said when it comes to mental health. Yet, mental wellbeing is an essential component of our overall health and wellness. It enables us to lead meaningful lives, helps us make good life choices, and strengthens our ability to handle challenges in life. Here are some ways we can give our brains a positive boost.
Be On The Move
It is no secret that exercise provides huge benefits from exercise. But being active is also good for the mind. “Exercise is essential for both the body and mind,” says Dr Jaza Marina Brown, MD, a geriatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta. Your body releases stress-relieving and mood-boosting endorphins before and after you work out, which is why exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. “The interaction and co-relation between mental and physical health cannot be overlooked as physical health issues contribute to premature deaths in those with mental health conditions,” says associate professor Mythily Subramaniam, Director, Research Division, IMH.
IMH recommends 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, but even a short walk, session of yoga, or senior exercise class can help strengthen your mind too.
Think Good, Feel Good
Studies have shown that how you think about yourself can significantly impact how you feel. Practice viewing the aspects of your life in a positive light can help promote healthy feelings of self-worth and confidence, staving off the risk of poor mental health. Prof Chia Kee Seng, Dean, NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, says, “Positive mental health is a very interesting and important concept. It has a direct impact on the quality of life. A person may be physically unwell but is well because he has control over the management of his illness and acceptance of the disease process. He may be physically sick but mentally at peace and is resilient. He continues to contribute to society.” Find something you are grateful for everyday and note it down in a gratitude diary.
The Rewards Of Altruism
We’ve all heard the adage that it is better to give than to receive. But research actually shows that doing good does you (and your mind) plenty of good too. Putting the needs of others over ourselves is beneficial for our mental well-being as it reduces stress and improves our self-esteem. A study conducted by lead researchers from University Pittsburgh and University of California, Los Angeles found that when it comes to support, giving may be better than receiving. “Both receiving and giving more support were related to lower reported negative psychosocial outcomes,” revealed Drs. Inagaki and Eisenberger, coauthors of the study. “[But] at the level of the brain, only support giving was associated with beneficial outcomes.”