October 2021
By Sylvie Tremblay
 
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4 simple ways to practise self-care for your mental health

 
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With 3 in every 10 Malaysian1 adults being diagnosed with a  mental health condition, mental health is expected to emerge as the second largest health problem affecting Malaysians.

Just like caring for your physical health, there are steps that you can take to improve mental wellbeing.  Learn these four simple self-care acts to reduce stress and boost mental health during these emotional times.
 
1. Stay physically active
There are many ways to relax when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. If you’re able to leave home, take a walk or go for a jog. Physical activity really is the best medicine. It’s a temporary, but effective, quick fix for stress, anxiety, and depressed mood.

Research has shown that taking a quick stroll will get your heart pumping and your body releases chemicals called endorphins – which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression. Don’t assume it needs to be a long trek, either. Taking a mere 15 minutes spin around the block can be much more beneficial and refreshing than you might think.
 
2. Micro-meditate with an app
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned devotee of meditation or a beginner, using stress relief apps or meditative audio can aid in stress relief in many ways. It’s definitely worth the time trying.

A meditation app offers many guided meditation classes to help train you to relax your body and your mind. Some apps provide breathing exercises to help you quickly de-stress, a mood tracker to enable you to measure your state of mind and track what affects you most in your life, and other features based on cognitive behavioural therapy.
 
3. Take a temporary break from the screen
Are you working from home? If the answer is ‘yes’, a brief screen “vacation” can do wonders for your productivity and mood.

Most of us are in information overload on an almost constant basis. Any time we can take to give the brain space to process emotional material that our busy lives keep us distracted from is helpful.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, set your phone on do not disturb mode for a set period of time – even five minutes. Then micro-meditate or brew a relaxing cup of low-caffeine tea.
 
4. Practise positive self-talk
It’s okay to not feel okay in the midst of a tough time or situation. Whenever you’re in doubt or depressed, take a few moments to talk yourself up.

All you need to do is stand in front of a mirror. Look into your eyes, breathe deeply, put one hand on your heart and another on your belly. Then, start chanting powerful affirmations aloud. For example,
•             “I am enough, just as I am.”
•             “I’ve got this.”
•             “I have the power to create change.”

This positive self-talk technique will help you relax. Repeat this in the morning right after you wake up, and in the evening before you go to bed.

If self-talk isn’t working, recruit a trusted friend or a loved one to discuss your feelings.

Just knowing this person exists can be comforting, even if you don’t end up needing to turn to them for support!
 
If you’re going through a mental breakdown or currently experiencing any signs of breakdown, please know that you aren't alone. It is very important to reach out for help to lessen the stress and help you deal with the pain. Asking for help and talk about your emotions isn't a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
 
References:
  1. University of Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC)

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