Gone are the days when it’s taboo to talk about our mental health or be told that our physical health is the only thing that matters. We know that paying attention to our state of mind is as important as, say, the number of bruises on our body. And looking after our mental health is, ultimately, up to us.
It might sound daunting at first, to think about this ‘burden’ but it’s a lot easier to cross this mental health bridge when you break it down and make a list of what you need to do. After all, every journey starts with a step, and this quest is no different.
Here are some mental health goals you should add to your list.
Goal 1: Make time for you
It’s wonderful to be in a relationship or to spend time shooting the breeze with your friends and family. But what is often underestimated is some alone time. Make yourself a priority and ask yourself, what makes you happy? Then, well, just do it.
It could be something simple like spending two hours every weekend reading or dancing along to your favourite music in the privacy of your bedroom three times a week. Or perhaps something that requires a little bit more effort, like signing up for a yoga class or learning a new language. As long as it’s something you’re doing for you, it’s what you need to escape into yourself and enjoy.
Goal 2: Remove yourself from toxic relationships
We all know people who are toxic but somehow can’t get untangled from them. These are the people who hinder you from making improvements in your life, fill you with negative thoughts (about yourself or others), or influence you to pick up bad habits.
If you have people in your life who are controlling, constantly lying or just draining to be with because they’re always taking from you (whether it’s time, energy or money) and not giving anything in return, it’s time to say goodbye.
Being around such people drags you down and affects your self-worth – you need to do what’s good for your mental health and walk away. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and want what’s best for you.
Goal 3: Unplug from technology/social media
There’s no need to delete your Instagram account or disconnect your WiFi at home. All you need is mini tech breaks. While social media has its benefits, it also inevitably causes us to compare our lives to others – even though we know that social media posts are just a fragment (often the most positive or unrealistic one) of everyone’s lives.
Seeing envy-inducing posts could trigger anxiety and/or FOMO, or feelings of depression when it seems like everyone has more exciting and productive lives than ours.
Plus, when you’re online for extended periods of time, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of YouTube or even get obsessed Googling about a particular celebrity or trend. Schedule some time regularly to unplug from technology and live in the real world instead.
Goal 4: Set boundaries
A big aspect of this is learning how to say ‘no’. If you’re doing something that isn’t quite right for you, you’ll be stressed or anxious. So don’t agree to do things just because you’re afraid of letting someone down.
On the other hand, it’s also good to step out of your comfort zone and say ‘yes’ more often if it’s something that interests you and might lead you to explore a new side of you. Basically, decide what is right for you and what makes you happy, instead of letting others dictate what you should or shouldn’t do.
Goal 5: Get active
Exercise is obviously good for your physical health but did you know it can also work wonders for your mental state?
Leading a sedentary life puts you at a higher risk for conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so it’s good to get moving. Exercise also reduces anxiety and depression, plus it improves your mood and gives you more energy to do the things you enjoy. You’ll even sleep better.
So set aside time to get active, whether it’s hiking, cycling, swimming or doing home workouts. Join a fitness class or search online for workout videos you can do from home. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity three times a week to experience the benefits.
Goal 6: Love yourself
Loving yourself should be your top priority before loving anyone else. And you need to put in the time to do this, just like you would to nurture a relationship with others.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone and avoid being overly self-critical. Remember that nobody’s perfect and nobody will ever be perfect. Your mental health is key to a happy and healthy life, so learn to be kind to yourself.
Oh, and love your body too, no matter what shape or size you are, because we are all different.
Goal 7: Ask for help
You’d go to the doctor if you have a physical issue or pain, so why wouldn’t you get help if you are struggling mentally? Make it a goal to reach out if you feel like you can’t cope. Speak to a close family member or friend, or make an appointment with a professional. Don’t suffer in silence.
Where else to get help
• National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am – 12am)
• Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
• Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
• Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
• Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928
• Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 and www.tinklefriend.sg
• Community Health Assessment Team: 6493-6500/1 and www.chat.mentalhealth.sg
• TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
• TOUCH Care Line (for seniors, caregivers): 6804-6555
• Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800
This article was first published in Her World Online.