As we’re in the year 2019, mental health is something that’s been a vocal subject that everyone talks about now. The reason why this issue has been out there as it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Recently, a teen suicide that rocked the rest of the world when she is said to have taken her own life after a poll she ran on Instagram. 69% of respondents on her Instagram account encouraged her to kill herself. According to The Star online, which reports as according to the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey, found 29% of Malaysians had depression and anxiety disorder compared with 12% in 2011.
“Depression will be a major mental health illness among Malaysians by 2020 as more people are expected to experience increased stress due to work and family pressure, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.”
There are few factors that result in a period of poor mental health, such as;
- Separation or loss with friends and family
- Physical ill health
- Work stress
- Drug or alcohol misuse
- Social isolation or loneliness
- Debt and poverty
- Genetics and biology
Depression has not always received the attention it deserves in Malaysia, often referred to as “The Silent Killer,” and it is so often shunned and easy to stigmatize. This common psychological disorder that causes feelings of intense sadness, loss of interests in activities, and negatively would affect a person’s well being.
The extraordinary Dr Vincent Felitti’s research into the deep-rooted causes of depression showed that childhood trauma caused the risks of skyrocketing adult depression. People who had experienced a traumatic childhood event were 3,100 per cent more likely to attempt suicide as adults, and more than 4,000 per cent had a greater tendency to be injecting drug users. (source: Serene Retreat)
By acknowledging the importance of mental health and your well-being is the first step towards a self-awareness state. Next, by eliminating the stigma and improving yourself could sustain a better mental state of mind. For example, just talking to one person can get rid of worries or perhaps motivate and gives you the strength that you need.
Here are some activities that could help your way to smile more and living the best possible life for you!
Constantly on Netflix marathons, snacking, and at the comfort of your home, being a couch potato certainly does not help in the long run. When it becomes your everyday lifestyle, it can take a tremendous toll on your mental health. Various studies show that the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms is tripled by those who spend most of their time sitting and do not exercise. Another study suggests that inactivity changes the neurons in the brain could alter how your mind function and alternatively, limit your “mood”.
Being active can help you to reduce stress, increase self-confidence, ease anxiety and keeps you motivated and busy. When it comes to exercise, don’t just limit yourself to just gym and weightlifting session if that is something you’re not interested in. There are plenty of other health-related things you can do. For instance, hiking, swimming, badminton, yoga, or even dancing.
Places you can go: Gasing Hill, PJ Palms Sports Center, USJ23 badminton court
As the great Danish author who wrote some of the most iconic Disney films, Hans Christian Andersen said to travel is to live and we couldn’t agree more. Not only will it encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, but it also can broaden your social and communication skills. If you’re in a foreign country where no one speaks English, you get to interact and perhaps learn a new language too.
Getting out and meeting new people helps to overcome depression too. When you’re travelling, you more likely to meet friendlier people who are easy to strike up conversations with. In the long run, travelling-carved friendships can be a constant reminder of your positive memories and improve your outlook on life.
When you go to a new place to travel, you would want to try out what the locals do there and some perhaps overcoming one’s fear. Travel forces us to confront fears and learn new ways to manage them in often unfamiliar and different contexts. Never underestimate the beauty that Mother Earth could provide and its effects on humans, helping you to be more exposed to the world.
There is nothing more loyal and lovable than a furry friend by our side. In a survey by Human-Animal Bond Research Institute done by pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership. Pets and therapy animals can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Pets have a calming effect on their owners. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can give owning a chance to relax and calms their minds. When it comes to motivation, dogs are especially great at encouraging owners to get exercise where it may be a morning walk or your personal jog buddy. Giving your self-confidence is also another method. How? Well, by training your pet to obey you gives you a sense of empowerment and total respect from one another.
There have been profound results in animal therapy and its benefits. Scientists are now digging up evidence that animals, even for people with challenging disorders, can also help improve mental health. In other words, – used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Places to go: PAWS, SPCA, Desa Park City (walk your pets).
In line with animal therapy, counselling therapy is another way to help cope with your mental health. Yes, friends and family can be your outlet but in some cases, they can be quick to give advice often dive right into “fixing it mode”. Their advice may or may not backfire but it certainly a good way to avoid any potential misunderstanding or judgements from your loved ones.
Therapy can help you discover a coping mechanism to the problems that you have. Its intentional efforts you make can manage and minimize stress. Hence, learning and implementing new coping strategies gives you the confidence to believe you are in control of your issues. Thus, finding meaning to your life and present a silver lining to a situation you are facing.
It can be a perception from people that going to therapy is bad and it doesn’t show the best in you, but it’s perfectly normal and a valuable experience that works to benefit you in the long run. Bottom line is, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help for any issue you have. You just have to remember that seeking therapy is one of the steps to achieving your end goal.
Places to go: Mind Faculty, Mentem Psychological Services.
Theme parks are probably the next best thing to Christmas. No doubt walking to the entrance of a theme park brings lots of good childhood and happy memories. Being in a theme park is a great way to escape your day to day worries. The intense adrenaline rush after a riding crazy roller coaster will leave you feeling excited and happy that you’ve done it. According to clinical psychologist Judy Kurianski, high-tempo rides expose us to “good fear”. Despite the plummeting drops, heart-stopping twists and nauseatingly sharp turns these thrill rides contain, our brains see them be “safe” and “predictable” – so riding them becomes therapeutic, especially as we scream out our anxieties!
If you look from a relationship point of view, you are able to have more bonding session with family and friends. You get to create memories with your families, to share with your families and be entertained.
Plus, with theme parks, you actually do burn calories while on the rides. A team of scientists, artists, engineers and designers known as the Thrill Laboratory conducted a study and determined that certain attractions in Thorpe Park in the UK helped riders burn between 40 and 70 calories.
Where to go: Sunway Lagoon, LEGOLAND, Genting Highlands
Stand up comedy
Best way to heal your soul is through the power of laughter. No matter how depressing your day is, it’s comforting to know that comedians are there to make you laugh. Something about letting joy burst out of you where it may be giggle or chuckle, it just destresses you.
Comedies also have a way of telling the truth like it is. May it be your dating life, weird habits or anything that relatable to you, they will be honest with a hilarious twist. Of course, being in a stand-up show, you can always just sit and laugh in a room together with other people. No need to socialize unless you’re seated right in front which calls for a roasting sesh of you!
Besides the laughing, it helps you realizes that learning to laugh at yourself counts as personal growth. To be able to take life a little bit more cheekily and not so serious is a good way to know we’re not caught up with our problems. To think about it, when you do take some of the comedians jokes and apply it to your social circle conversation, you’ll feel a rush of taking things lightly and giving you material to talk about.
Places to go: The Joke Factory, Crackhouse TTDI, General Space
Random Act of Kindness
If you’re a big fan of the funny talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, you’ll notice in her show, she will end with her goodbye with “be kind to one another”. The one little sentence does pack a punch, isn’t it?
One simple random act of kindness could potentially make a person’s day and make you feel in tune with yourself. Small acts of kindness resonate in all our lives. For example,
- Letting someone cut in front of you in a traffic jam
- Offering your seat to the elderly & pregnant women
- Lending a helping hand to a co-worker
- Holding the elevator door
- Saying thank you when serving in a restaurant
- Compliment a stranger
- Pick up the litter at the park
- Buy a coffee for your loved ones
- Reconnect with an old friend
- Donate your clothing to the ones who need it.
- Take 15 minutes to really listen to someone
Kindness promotes gratitude and when you have that awareness it then heightens your sense of own good fortune. Having all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily mean you are a happy person. Just like the legendary reggae artist who said that his possessions don’t make him rich but rather his richness in life is forever.
Researcher, Barbara Fredrickson viewpoint was that kindness specifically loving kindness, moved one out of the selfish realm. When we practice random acts of kindness, it can reduce pain. Dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous opioids are released by kind behaviour and enhance both physical and mental health. In turn, it makes you feel more satisfied with life and lowering the number of stress hormones we produce.
Removing toxic people
Human beings are one of the rather complicated people to handle as you have to deal with many different personalities and characteristics. Sometimes one of the reasons people go through depression and anxiety is because of the constant toxic treatment they’ve been getting from people. At some point in your life, you are bound to have come across a person who fits the description. It may even challenge you to know about yourself and saying no when you’ve had enough.
Here are some signs of a toxic person;
- They only pay attention only when it’s about them
- They make you feel like you’re worthless
- An apology is not in their dictionary
- You just feel negative whenever you are around them
Keeping in mind when you have self-respect and love for yourself, that’s when you are able to recognize to true stresses in your life and began living a healthier lifestyle. Always trust your gut, know what is the happier choice for you. It’s never wrong to be selfish once in a while because at the end of the day, you have to be there for yourself and your happiness comes first.
The head down syndrome as how you call it. Everywhere you go, smartphone users will be looking down on their phones whether they’re walking down the street, in public transportation and even to pay bills. While technology is great at making your life an easier one, it can also negatively impact your mental health.
When it comes to social media, you have adults or teenagers who regularly are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter report feelings of jealousy, loneliness, body image and bullying. Most people are confused about what they should be focusing on. If it’s affecting you a lot, then probably you need to rethink on the amount of usage you are on. Perhaps follow motivational and self-empowering pages to increase your self-esteem on life.
Though in everyday life, you won’t be going through all sunshine and rainbows as you’ll bound to experience a bad day as well. It just how you handle it and keeping a positive mindset. Lastly, don’t be afraid to be yourself and reach out if needed.