According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 13 percent rise in mental health conditions in the last decade.
With the burden of mental health conditions increasing, awareness in the region is starting to increase too. What once was a discussion shrouded in stigma has now taken center stage in the healthcare industry.
That is why Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, is stressing that psychological wellbeing, much like the physical aspect, can be maintained, strengthened, and improved through rigorous mental training and coping strategies. It also stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy mental mindset by reducing psychological pressures and anxiety from your life.
As there are still some general misconceptions about mental health and how to improve it, Noha Al Haj, clinical psychologist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City provides her 10 most effective methods to maintain a healthy and positive outlook.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Sleep is vital to maintaining positive mental health. Brain imaging studies suggest a good night’s sleep helps build mental and emotional resilience. It also helps maintain cognitive skills, such as attention, learning, memory, and emotional regulation. It is recommended that adults should have seven or more hours of sleep a night.
- Balanced diet: Eating balanced meals, not skipping meals, and making sure to snack often on healthy food groups are also important. Further to that, people should aim to reduce coffee intake — or completely remove it from their diet if possible — as it can exacerbates anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Drink water: Feeling irritable is a common consequence suffered due to dehydration. Drinking 1.5 to 2 liters of water is essential, especially if the majority of your day is spent staring at the computer and there is a lack of high-intensity physical activities. Drinking enough water relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, boosts immune system, prevents cramps and sprains and improves skin complexion.
- Exercise 30 minutes per day: Physical activity is a major contributor to improving mental health. This is because the body secretes hormones during and post workout that improve mood and alleviates mental stress and anxiety. Regular physical activity can also improve sleep quality, provide a high sense of self-fulfillment, control anger and impulsivity, create a healthy appetite for food, and even create a better social life.
- Find that hobby you enjoy: It is important for individuals to find hobbies they like to do, such as music or sports, and find time in their day to practice it. Honing a skillset for a specific hobby can help maintain a positive mindset and improve wellbeing.
- Techniques to manage stress: Although stressful situations are often unavoidable, people can make efforts to better manage their stress and reactions to crisis scenarios. Coping with stress can be very tricky and difficult to maintain yet it is a key component to maintaining good mental health. Making lists and schedules which list all daily responsibilities and through facing difficulties head on, with support of colleagues and family members, can help you deal with the anxiety of going through them.
- Meditate: Practicing mindfulness and meditating regularly can improve your mental state and life outlook. Research has also shown that meditation and breathing exercises have a therapeutic effect on people, enhancing their feelings of calm and clearing their minds from negative thoughts.
- Create a support network: It is also important to maintain a strong and healthy social circle, not just for your self-esteem and social activities, but also as a support network for when you’re feeling down.
- Helping others: Helping others often will improve your self-image and give you a new sense of purpose in the world. Volunteer work, local charities, and generally being a helping hand helps you become a part of a community and gives you a chance to express yourself and form new experiences and memories.
- Ask for help: Recognizing you need support is the first step to seeking the help you need. One of the most important and fundamental ways to improve your mental health is to take the first step and understand that you’re not feeling your usual self. Forming a support group of friends and family to discuss how you feel will give you the necessary coping tools to combat mental illnesses and negative emotions.
Finally, remember there are therapies are available. Adherence to effective treatment provided by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist is important to enhance psychological aptitude. These treatments are available in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy or medications, with early detection and diagnosis being essential to ensure that people receive the integral care that they need.
• If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s mental health, you can book an appointment by contacting SEHA on 800 50. You are not alone.