YOUR brain is a powerful thing. Your mental state does not only control your consciousness, it determines your physical being and how your body functions. However, your mental health is threatened by negative experiences in life such as stress, grief, depression and even change. Studies have shown that people suffering from serious mental illnesses can lower their life expectancy by 10-15 years. Here are 10 must-have ingredients to help you boost your mental wellness and welcome a healthier you.
1) Get proper sleep - A minimum of eight hours daily.
Method: Sleep makes you more alert and reduces stress. It also improves your memory as your brain processes your day by making links to events and feelings while at rest.
2) Eat a healthy diet - Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, reduce the risk of dementia and mental decline.
Method: Good nutrition is a natural defence against stress. Begin your day with a nutritious breakfast, preferably of whole grain cereals and fruit, and maintain balanced meals throughout the day.
3) Keep yourself active - 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is ideal.
Method: Exercising keeps you physically strong, and also strengthens your mind by reducing and preventing stress. Go for a walk, cycle in the park, dance to some music or unwind with yoga. Remember that it is better to do moderate exercise more regularly than to engage in a heavy workout on an ad hoc basis.
4) Interact with others - Talk to another person for at least 10 minutes daily.
Method: Talking to people stimulates the brain. A US study found that talking to another person for just 10 minutes a day improves memory scores. Also, the more you interact with others, the faster your brain will work.
5) Pick up a new skill - music, computer skills, a new hobby
Method: Learning to play a musical instrument, acquiring computer skills, games such as mahjong, starting a new hobby or learning to cook a new dish can be ways to practise lifelong learning and keep your brain refreshed.
6) Get a mental workout - Scrabble or mahjong anyone?
Method: Engaging in mind-boggling games involves a combination of memory, decision-making and strategising which keeps the brain active and prevents dementia. In addition, playing in a group will boost greater interaction.
7) Do something for others - The best remedy when you're feeling down
Method: Assisting a friend, family member or doing community work helps you to take the focus away from yourself and in turn, you will feel more empowered and included.
8) Learn to manage - Shift your mindset, make a list
Method: Make a list of goals and check them off when they are completed. This will help you to tackle things one at a time. Seeing problems as opportunities or focusing on the positive can also help to reduce stress. Stress cannot be avoided but you can learn to manage it.
9) Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs - They are not the only solution
Method: If you are having emotional problems, seek support from family and friends or professional help. Self-medicating with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs only provide temporary relief from stress and unhappiness.
10) Laugh - It is the best medicine
Method: Laugh yourself silly and have fun whenever you can! Besides an apple, laughing can also help to keep the doctor at bay because humour activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, generating positive emotions and relaxing the mind.
Courtesy of Agency for Integrated Care, as seen in NEXTSTEP (Issue 03). Go to www.silverpages.sg for more information on long-term care and care-giving.
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