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World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organization recognises World Mental Health Day on 10th October every year. The theme this year that has been set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. 

In celebration of this important day here are 10 practical ways that we can all look after our mental health and overall wellbeing …

  1. Be kind to yourself
Valuing and treating yourself with the kindness and respect you would your own best friend is so important. Giving yourself a hard time and being self-critical about every imperfection and every mistake you make is not helpful. You were not born to be perfect; you were born to be real and real people mess up from time to time and that is perfectly OK. Liking, respecting and being kind to yourself is so important in terms of your emotional well-being. The theme this year that has been set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. In celebration of this important day here are 10 practical ways that we can all look after our mental health and overall wellbeing …

2. Be aware of and manage your stress levels

Given the current situation there is a great deal of heightened anxiety and stress about which can make it challenging to establish a healthy balance. Everyday pressures can build up and affect our stress levels without us even being aware that it is happening. The creep of burnout can be insidious. Increasing your stress intelligence and how you manage your stress by raising awareness of your stress triggers and responses is key.

3. Keep active

A sedentary lifestyle isn’t helpful when it comes to your personal well-being. Research has identified that physical inactivity may increase the risks of certain cancers and contribute to anxiety and depression. People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop heart disease. Exercise is vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function. Devices to measure how many steps you walk a day can also be very motivating. Setting yourself a target to walk 10,000 steps a day is recommended for a healthy heart, as well as having positive effects on your mental health too.

4. Fuel your body well

Think of your body as the most magnificent machine and be aware of the quality of the fuel that you put into your system. This can have a big impact on how you perform and indeed how you feel emotionally. Processed and sugary food will make you feel sluggish and low. A healthy diet will help you feel better and increase your energy levels.

5. Sleep well

Lack of good quality sleep can affect your memory, judgment and mood. There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.

6. Practice mindfulness

The term mindfulness comes from Eastern spiritual and religious traditions. It is a very old concept and is a key part of Buddhism and also appears in Hindu writings. A great deal of scientific research now shows that the mindful approach to stress, anxiety and mental health is a very helpful and popular way of dealing with and diffusing high levels of stress. Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgemental approach to your inner experience. It is essentially about being present and noticing what is around you. So often, if you are not careful, you can find yourself racing through life in a mad dash and not taking time to stop and really appreciate what is going on around you.

7. Avoid chasing perfection

Experts tend to define perfectionism as “a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations”. Some studies show that constantly chasing perfection may seriously harm your mental health and well-being. Perfectionism occurs when you attach irrational importance to being perfect, hold unrealistic expectations of yourself and punish yourself when you self-evaluate the outcome. Perfection is a journey not a destination and sometimes a mantra of better done than perfect can reduce the relentless pressure you may be putting on yourself and also help you to achieve results.

8. Embrace the funny side of life

Laughter has so many benefits and can be such a great tonic. Even in challenging times it helps to seek out the funny side of situations. Having a good laugh can decrease stress hormones and also increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain as well as having a very positive effect on your emotional wellbeing.

9. Take a social media fast once in a week

Social media is practically at boiling point at the moment with so much fake and negative news and it can have a big impact on your mental health. Being able to switch off from technology from time to time will help you to quite relax significantly.
Dr.Saradha Devi MS

Dr.Saradha Devi MS

Author
Pearlson's Pain Management and wellness centre

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