Achieve Mental Wellness: Proven Ways

Your mind is the window to your body and soul, so make sure it receives proper nourishment.

Your brain is a powerful thing. Your mental state not only controls your consciousness, but also determines how your body functions.

Stress, grief and depression can have a negative effect on your mental health. Studies have shown that serious mental illnesses can lower life expectancy by 10 to 15 years.

  1. Get at least eight hours of sleep a day

You are more alert and less prone to stress after a good night’s rest. Getting enough sleep can also improve your memory.

  1. Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, cut the risk of dementia and mental decline

Good nutrition is a natural defense against stress. Begin your day with a nutritious breakfast, preferably of wholegrain cereals and fruits, and take balanced meals throughout the day.

  1. Keep yourself active. At least 150 minutes of exercise a week (or 30 minutes daily) is ideal

Exercising not only keeps you physically strong, it also reduces or prevents stress. Go for a walk or unwind with yoga. It is better to do moderate exercise regularly than to have a heavy workout occasionally.

  1. Interact with others. Talk to another person for at least 10 minutes daily

Talking to people stimulates the brain. A study in the US 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.

  1. Pick up a new skill or hobby

Learning to play a musical instrument, acquiring computer skills, starting a new hobby or learning to cook a new dish can help keep your brain active and healthy.

  1. Get a mental workout. Scrabble or mahjong anyone?

Engaging in mind-boggling games involves a combination of memory, decision-making and strategizing, which keeps the brain active and prevents dementia. In addition, playing in a group will boost interaction.

  1. Do something for others. This is the best remedy when you’re feeling down

Helping a friend or family member, or doing community work helps you to take the focus away from yourself. In turn, you will feel more positive and less helpless.

  1. Learn to manage stress. Shift your mindset and make a list

Make a list of goals and check them off when they are completed. This will help you 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 stress.

  1. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. They are not the solutions to problems

If you have emotional problems, seek support from family and friends, or get professional help. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs provide only temporary relief from stress and unhappiness.

  1. Laughter is the best medicine.



How to Manage Your Emotions at Work

We are emotional creatures. It is hard for us, as humans, not to be emotional. Whilst it is generally good to be in touch with our emotions and to not suppress them, there are situations where we must somehow manage our emotions especially well. That’s notably the case at work.

Emotional outbursts at work could be due directly to work-related matters or to stressors from our personal life spilling into our work life. Handling our emotions (particularly negative ones) at work is often seen as a measure of our professionalism.

According to a 1997 study the most common negative emotions experienced at work are frustration, worry, anger, dislike and unhappiness.

Do any of these emotions seem familiar to you? You may experience other, less common negative emotions that will also leave you feeling stressed. From a psychologist’s standpoint, it is never good to repress or suppress emotions, positive or negative. However, our emotions must be managed to allow us to function in various situations. What are some of the strategies we can use to cope with negative emotions?



  1. Compartmentalization (when negative emotions from home affect your work)
  • Try and leave personal matters and issues at home. When you commute to work, use that time to tell your mind to let go.
  • For example, if you are taking the Metro/bus/driving, at each station/bus stop/traffic stop, mentally ask the offending person to get off or ‘push’ the stressor out.
  • Some find it helpful to mentally ‘store/lock up” the issue in a box for the time being.
  • You can also compartmentalize work-related stressors so that your emotions at work don’t spill over into your personal life too.
  1. Deep breathing & relaxation techniques
  • This will help with emotions like anxiety, worry, frustration and anger.
  • Take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly until you calm down. Slowly count to 10.
  • You can take a walk to cool down, and listen to some relaxing music.
  • Talk to someone who can help you calm down.
  1. The 10-second rule
  • This is especially helpful if you are feeling angry, frustrated or even irate.
  • If you feel your temper rising, try and count to 10 to recompose yourself.
  • If possible, excuse yourself from the situation to get some distance but do reassure the other party that you will come back to deal with the matter.
  1. Clarify
  • It is good to clarify before reacting, in the event that it could be a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication.
  1. Blast your anger through exercise
  • Instead of losing your cool, plan on hitting the treadmill or going to a kick-boxing class to let the anger out of your system.
  • Exercise is also a good way to get a solid dose of mood-enhancing endorphins.
  • In addition, exercise will help to release any physical tension in your body.
  1. Never reply or make a decision when angry
  • In this day of instant communication, it’s easy to just shoot off an email or text that you may regret later.
  • Never let your anger or unhappiness cloud your judgement.
  • Hold off all communication while you are still angry. You can type it first but save it as a draft and sleep on it for a day. Re-read it the next day or even let someone you trust take a look at it before you send it.
  1. Know your triggers
  • It helps when you are able to recognize what upsets or angers you.
  • This way, you can prepare yourself to remain calm and plan your reaction should the situation occur.
  • You may even be able to anticipate the other party’s reaction.
  1. Be respectful
  • Treat your colleagues the same way you would like to be treated yourself.
  • If the person is rude, there’s no need to reciprocate. We can stay gracious and just be firm and assertive without being aggressive. Often, rude people will mellow down if they don’t get a reaction from you and realize that they are the only one shouting in the room.
  1. Apologize for any emotional outburst
  • Sometimes our emotions do get the better of us.
  • If you do have an emotional outburst, apologize immediately to the person and perhaps to those around you who have heard it.
  • You need not explain yourself or be defensive. Just a simple “I am sorry. I reacted badly” would make a big difference.
  1. Never bring your negative emotions home
  • It is good practice to let go of any anger, frustration and unhappiness at the end of every workday.
  • Harboring negative emotions allows them to fester like mold, bringing you to a breaking point. So it’s best to empty the emotional “trash can” on a daily basis, to prevent overwhelm.
  • You can use the compartmentalization method mentioned above, or you can plan to engage in enjoyable activities after work with your friends and family.



Depression can be the cause of your Physical Pain

We don’t often pair depression with physical pain but research shows this mental illness can really hurt.

Depression hurts. And while we often pair this mental illness with emotional pain like sadness, crying, and feelings of hopelessness, research shows that depression can manifest as physical pain, too.

While we don’t often think of depression as physical pain, some cultures do — especially those where it’s “taboo” to openly talk about mental health.

For example, in Chinese and Korean cultures, depression is considered a myth. So patients, unaware that physical pain may be a sign of psychological distress, go to doctors to treat their physical symptoms instead of describing depression.

But keeping these physical symptoms top of mind is just as important as the emotional effects.

For one, it’s a great way to keep in check with your body and mind. Physical symptoms can signal when a depressive period is about to begin or clue you in to whether or not you may be experiencing depression.

On the other hand, physical symptoms demonstrate that depression is, in fact, very real and can be detrimental to our overall well-being.

Here are seven of the most common physical symptoms of depression:

1. Fatigue or consistent lower energy levels

Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Occasionally we all experience lower energy levels and can feel sluggish in the morning, hoping to stay in bed and watch TV instead of going to work.

While we often believe exhaustion stems from stress, depression can also cause fatigue. However, unlike everyday fatigue, depression-related fatigue can also cause concentration problems, feelings of irritability, and apathy.

Doctors points out that depressed individuals often experience non restorative sleep, meaning that they feel sluggish even after getting a full night of rest.

However, because many physical illnesses, like infections and viruses, can also cause fatigue, it can be challenging to discern whether or not the exhaustion is related to depression.

One way to tell: While everyday fatigue is a sign of this mental illness, other symptoms like sadness, feeling hopeless, and anhedonia (lack of pleasure in day-to-day activities) may also be present when you are depressed.

2. Decreased pain tolerance (aka everything hurts more)

Does it ever feel like your nerves are on fire and yet you can’t find any physical reason for your pain? As it turns out, depression and pain often co-exist.

One 2015 Study showed a correlation between people who are depressed and decreased pain tolerance, while another study in 2010 showed that pain has a greater impact on people who are depressed.

These two symptoms don’t have clear cause-and-effect relationship, but it’s important to evaluate them together, especially if your doctor recommends medication.

Some research suggests that using anti-depressants may not only help relieve depression, but can also act as an analgesic, combating pain.

3. Back pain or aching muscles all over

You might feel okay in the morning, but once you’re at work or sitting at a school desk, your back starts to hurt. It could be stress, or it could be depression. Although they’re often associated with bad posture or injuries, backaches can also be a symptom of psychological distress.

A 2017 research study of 1,013 Canadian university students found a direct association between depression and backaches.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have long believed emotional issues can cause chronic aches and pains, but the specifics are still being researched, such as the  connection between depression and the body’s inflammatory response.

Newer studies suggest that inflammation in the body may have something to do with the neuro circuits in our brain. It’s thought that  inflammation may interrupt brain signals      , and therefore may have a role in depression and how we treat it.

4. Headaches

Almost everyone experiences occasional headaches. They’re so common that we often write them off as nothing serious. Stressful work situations, like conflict with a co-worker, can even trigger these headaches.

However, your headache might not always be induced by stress, especially if you’ve tolerated your co-worker in the past. If you notice a switch to daily headaches, it could be a sign of depression.

Unlike excruciating migraine headaches, depression-related headaches don’t necessarily impair one’s functioning. Described as “tension headaches,” this type of head pain may feel like a mild throbbing sensation, especially around the eyebrows.

While these headaches are helped by over-the-counter pain medication, they typically re-occur regularly. Sometimes chronic tension headaches can be a symptom of major depressive disorder.

However, headaches aren’t the only indication that your pain may be psychological. People with depression often experience additional symptoms like sadness, feelings of irritability, and decreased energy.

5. Eye problems or decreasing vision

Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect one’s eyesight.

In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as “contrast perception,” this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.

6. Stomach pain or uneasiness in the abdomen

That sinking feeling in your stomach is one of the most recognizable signs of depression. However, when your abdomen starts to cramp, it’s easy to write it off as gas or menstrual pain.

Pain that worsens, especially when stress arises, may be a sign of depression. In fact, Harvard Medical School researcher suggest that stomach discomfort like cramps, bloating, and nausea may be a sign of poor mental health.

What’s the link? According to those Harvard Researchers , depression can cause (or be a result of) an inflamed digestive system, with pain that’s easily mistaken for illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

Doctors and scientists sometimes refer to the gut as the “second Brain” because they have found a connection between gut health and mental well-being. Our stomachs are full of good bacteria and if there’s an imbalance of good bacteria, symptoms of anxiety and depression may arise.

Eating a balanced diet and taking probiotics can improve one’s gut health, which may enhance mood, too, but further research is needed.

7. Digestive problems or irregular bowel schedules

Digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Often caused by food poisoning or gastrointestinal viruses, it’s easy to assume that gut discomfort stems from a physical illness.

But emotions like sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm can disrupt our digestive tracks. One 2011 study suggests a link between anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal pain.


Wellness: Its Dimensions

The 6 Dimensions of Wellness

  • Physical
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Occupational or Financial
  • Spiritual

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness is one of the easiest for most people to understand, as it is the difference between experiencing illnesses and living a healthy life. This is the first form of the six dimensions because without physical wellness, it’s difficult (but not impossible) to enjoy anything else. Eating right, getting enough exercise, and keeping up with your hygiene rituals are all important parts of maintaining your physical wellness.

Social Wellness

Social wellness is how happy you are with your interactions with others. There is not a single profile for someone being socially well, as everyone has different personal preferences for number of friends, and amount of time spent alone versus with company. Introverts may be socially well with one or two close friends they see a few times a week, while socialites may have trouble staying socially satisfied without actively talking to at least thirty people a week. You can also be conflicted on social wellness, happy with your day to day but missing a particular person or type of interaction that is currently unavailable.

Emotional Wellness

To be emotionally well, you need to be both integrated with your feelings and be satisfied with the life you lead. Some people have trouble with emotional wellness due to an internal imbalance, while others have an easy time being satisfied almost anywhere. To maintain emotional wellness, keeping a journal and talking your feelings out with a friend are the best ways to figure out how you feel and make plans to feel better.

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness is another complex one. On one hand, it can be seen as a measure of sanity, whether or not you can track concepts through a conversation or think things that make sense. On the other hand, intellectual wellness can relate to satisfaction with mental stimulation. Someone with a very pleasant lifestyle may still be unhappy if they’re not getting enough intellectual activity, like engaging conversation, interesting books to read, or problems to solve.

Occupational and Financial Wellness

We’ve all known at least one person who can’t be happy without something to do. These constantly busy individuals have a high need for occupational wellness. They love to work and feel satisfied in life when they have good work to do. Of course, occupational wellness can also translate to financial concern. Even for those who aren’t primarily motivated by work, feeling secure about your finances is a good sign of occupational and financial well being.

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is our final category because in a way, it gathers up the ‘everything else’. This is often measured by whether or not you feel you have a purpose in life, are happy in your current circumstances, and are happy with your general life outlook. You don’t have to be religious to have spiritual wellness, just be at peace with yourself and your surroundings.

Though wellness can be defined in many different ways, using the six dimension structure, it becomes possible to assess if any particular person is overall living well or unwell. If someone is physically healthy, socially fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, intellectually stimulated, at ease with their finances, and at peace with their surroundings, they are most likely a happy person who can be considered ‘well’.