There are several benefits of physical activity on mental health.

The brain is the most powerful and complex organ in the body. Your mental health does not only control your consciousness, but also determines your physical health and the way your body functions.

Life is rarely as smooth sailing as we would like it to be. We often face disappointment, stress, grief and negativity which can affect your mental health.

According to Adjunct Associate Professor Daniel Fung, chairman of the Medicinal Board at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), the average life expectancy of Singaporeans is about 82 years. But those with mental health issues and illness die about 20 years earlier than the general population.

So how can we strengthen our mental well-being? Here are 10 essentials that can help boost your mental wellness.

1. Get Sufficient Sleep — a Minimum of 7 Hours Daily

Lack of sleep can negatively affect your physical and mental well-being and overall quality of life. Having proper sleep not only provides stress relief, but it also makes you more alert and aware. It improves your memory too — sufficient sleep helps your brain to process and retain information long term, and solidify memories.

2. Have a Healthy Diet 

A healthy gut leads to a healthy mind and boosts mental wellness. Having a balanced and nutritious diet is a natural defence against stress. Start your day right with a nutritious breakfast and try to maintain balanced meals throughout the day. Include foods like wholegrain cereal, vegetables and fruit.

3. Maintain an Active, Healthy Lifestyle — 150 Minutes of Physical Activity a Week

Physical exercise will not only keep you physically strong, but also keeps you mentally alert and reduces stress. When you exercise, you can think better, allowing you to be more efficient and productive. Try doing yoga, signing up for Zumba, or go for a slow walk in the park as such activities can keep your mind and body healthy. It is better to do moderate exercise more regularly than engage in heavy workouts on an ad hoc basis.

4. Interact and Socialise

Talking and interacting with others stimulates your brain. It allows your brain to work faster and think faster. 

5. Pick up a New Skill or Hobby for Better Mental Wellbeing

It’s never too late to pick up a new skill and engaging in activities you enjoy can improve your mental wellbeing. Learning new skills such as playing the piano, acquiring a new set of computer skills and playing games can stimulate brain and nerve cells, keeping your brain refreshed.

6. Engage in a Mental Workout to Maintain Good Mental Health

Playing strategic and mind-stretching games not only involves memory work, but also involves decision-making and strategising. This helps keep the brain working and preventing mental health issues and illnesses such as dementia. Also, playing in groups will boost greater interaction.

7. Feel Good by Doing Something for Others

Doing community work or helping a friend or family member allows you to take the focus away from yourself. Helping others makes you feel good and more empowered.

8. Learn How to Reduce Stress — Shift your Mindset and Make a List

Stress cannot be avoided but you can learn how to better manage it. Setting goals and checking them off when you’ve completed them helps to tackle large-scale tasks one step at a time. Positivity is key — try seeing problems as opportunities that can help to reduce and manage stress.

9. Avoid Vices such as Alcohol, Drugs and Cigarettes

If you’re having emotional problems, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs is not the solution. They provide only temporary stress relief. Ideally, you can seek help and comfort from family or friends, or you can consider seeking professional help.

10. Laugh and Uplift Mental Well-being!

Laughter can relieve tension and help with stress relief, and aid in stress management. Humour activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, generating positive emotions and relaxing the mind, which is good for your mental well-being. Laugh yourself silly and have fun whenever you can!

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


Read these next:


References: 
  1. https://www.todayonline.com/daily-focus/health/mental-illness-can-shorten-lifespan-20-years
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
  3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation
  4. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep
  5. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep
  6. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/lack-of-sleep-and-cognitive-impairment
  7. Lee, SH., Yoon, SH., Jung, Y. et al. Emotional well-being and gut microbiome profiles by enterotype. Sci Rep 10, 20736 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77673-z
  8. Strahler, J., Wurst, R., Fuchs, R., & Wunsch, K. (2021). Joint associations of regular exercise and healthy diet with psychobiological stress reactivity in a healthy male sample. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10253890.2021.1878496
  9. Strahler, J., Wurst, R., Fuchs, R., & Wunsch, K. (2021). Joint associations of regular exercise and healthy diet with psychobiological stress reactivity in a healthy male sample. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10253890.2021.1878497
  10. Hopkins, M. E., Davis, F. C., Vantieghem, M. R., Whalen, P. J., & Bucci, D. J. (2012). Differential effects of acute and regular physical exercise on cognition and affect. Neuroscience, 215, 59–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.04.056
  11. Mortimer, J. A., Ding, D., Borenstein, A. R., DeCarli, C., Guo, Q., Wu, Y., Zhao, Q., & Chu, S. (2012). Changes in brain volume and cognition in a randomized trial of exercise and social interaction in a community-based sample of non-demented Chinese elders. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 30(4), 757–766. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2012-120079
  12. Pressman, S. D., Matthews, K. A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Scheier, M., Baum, A., & Schulz, R. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(7), 725–732. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978
  13. O'Shea, D. M., De Wit, L., & Smith, G. E. (2019). Doctor, Should I Use Computer Games to Prevent Dementia?. Clinical gerontologist, 42(1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2017.1370057
  14. THEURER, K., & WISTER, A. (2010). Altruistic behaviour and social capital as predictors of well-being among older Canadians. Ageing and Society, 30(1), 157-181. doi:10.1017/S0144686X09008848
  15. Wong, Shyh Shin. (2012). Negative thinking versus positive thinking in a Singaporean student sample: Relationships with psychological well-being and psychological maladjustment. Learning and Individual Differences. 22. 76–82. 10.1016/j.lindif.2011.11.013. 
  16. Kopera, M., Jakubczyk, A., Suszek, H., Glass, J. M., Klimkiewicz, A., Wnorowska, A., Brower, K. J., & Wojnar, M. (2015). Relationship between emotional processing, drinking severity and relapse in adults treated for alcohol dependence in Poland. Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 50(2), 173–179. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agu099
  17. Lawrence, D., Mitrou, F., Sawyer, M. G., & Zubrick, S. R. (2010). Smoking status, mental disorders and emotional and behavioural problems in young people: child and adolescent component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 44(9), 805–814. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048674.2010.482921
  18. Guillot CR, Blackledge SM, Douglas ME, Cloutier RM, Liautaud MM, Pang RD, Kirkpatrick MG, Leventhal AM. Indirect Associations of Anxiety Sensitivity with Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drug Use Problems Through Emotional Disorder Symptoms in Adolescents. Behav Med. 2020 Apr-Jun;46(2):161-169. doi: 10.1080/08964289.2019.1573797. Epub 2019 Apr 30. PMID: 31039083; PMCID: PMC6821558.
  19. Crawford, S. A., & Caltabiano, N. J. (2011). Promoting emotional well-being through the use of humour. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 237–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2011.577087
  20. Mobbs, D., Greicius, M. D., Abdel-Azim, E., Menon, V., & Reiss, A. L. (2003). Humor modulates the mesolimbic reward centers. Neuron, 40(5), 1041–1048. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00751-7