Our mental health matters more than ever as the pandemic persists. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is described as “a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community1.”
For what it’s worth, that sounds like something that each of us are trying to achieve in our daily lives. As we spend more time at home due to social restrictions, it is important to be aware of our state of mind, as the risk of catching ‘cabin fever’ is real. Here are some of the steps you can take to improve your health and overall wellbeing.
Devote more time to loved ones
Engage with your family to build stronger and closer relationships. Instead of spending hours in front of the TV, why not have dinner together, try your hand at a board game, or work on a home-based project if venturing outside isn’t an option? Good relationships provide emotional support and they are critical to your mental wellbeing. They also help you to foster a deeper sense of belonging and self-worth2.
Take care of your body
Feeling lethargic? It is easy to neglect exercise when feeling stressed or strung out3. Stay active and fit by going for an occasional walk, run or swim, or make an appointment with your buddies to go for a weekend cycling adventure. Working out is one of the best ways to treat stress issues. In fact, failing to exercise can also lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. Of course, maintaining a nutritious diet and getting sufficient sleep are equally important too.
Be mindful of your state of mind
Pay attention to your needs and feelings when you are coping with stress. This sense of self awareness, sometimes referred to as mindfulness, is an effective remedy against psychological distress such as worries or anxiety4. Meditation, for example, is a great way to start. Practising such mental exercises helps you to focus on the present, instead of allowing your mind to dwell on negative thoughts. Make it a point to see the humour in life as well. Studies suggest that laughter helps to reduce stress hormones and boost the immune system too5.
Tune out before you burn out
Approximately 92% of employees in Singapore are stressed; that’s 8% higher than the global average, according to the Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey6. If left unmanaged, day-to-day stress can lead to burnout when burdened by too many priorities and a poor work-life balance. For instance, if you are starting to feel on the verge of exhaustion, speak to your manager about your workload. If necessary, examine and adjust your lifestyle to incorporate more physical and mindfulness activities.
Picking up a new hobby
When we feel worried, lonely or anxious, we may stop doing the things we typically enjoy. If you can’t engage in an outdoor activity, make an effort to focus on a hobby you can do at home. It can feel like a challenge, especially when you are feeling down or unmotivated, but the emotional rewards are well worth the effort. Bake, cook, sing or paint — find something that works for you. These activities help to build your self-esteem and provide you with a sense of achievement. Staying socially active is just as vital. For example, consider joining an online community related to your hobby or “hang out” with your friends over your favourite online game.
While the tips above give you a general indication on how to improve your mental wellness, it is hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fighting stress. Ultimately, you’ll need to figure out the best way to unwind on your own terms. If a simple walk in the park or having a long chat with a friend makes you feel better — go for it! Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is pivotal to your mental wellbeing.
For expert advice and additional resources on strengthening your resilience, don’t forget to check out the Cigna Stress Care Hub. Through the hub, you’ll be able to read up on professional tips such as recognising stress symptoms, not just for yourself but for your loved ones too. If you’re still unsure, take the Stress Test to find out how you fare on the stress scale.
1. Health Organisation. (2019). Mental health: Strengthening Our Response.
2. National Health Service (NHS). (2019). 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing.
3. Cigna. (2020). Building a Whole Person Health Approach to Chronic Stress at Work.
4. Keng, SL., Smoski, M. & Robins, C. (2011). Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies.
5. Northwestern Medicine. Healing Through Humour.
6. Cigna. (2020). How Work-related Stress Affects Employee Health and Productivity As Well As How to Address