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10 steps to take to improve your mental health

By Catharina Cheung 25 October 2019

In the wake of World Mental Health Day, we’d like to talk about mental health. Take a moment here to breathe, be aware of your emotions, and ask yourself the question: are you feeling okay? If the honest answer is “not really”, read on to see how you can give your mental well-being a boost. If your answer is “yes”: great! Read on anyway to see how you can keep it that way, and support those around you who are struggling.

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Let’s be real for a bit: urban living is tough. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in; our work culture dictates some pretty insane hours when compared to global standards; raising a child here is a venture that is both stressful and expensive; education is highly competitive, and no longer a guarantee for a good job; and being in the midst of constant hustle and bustle without time to unwind can really wear you down. Small wonder, then, that according to recent studies, 61 percent of Hongkongers are considered as having “poor mental well-being”.

Infographic credit: Mind HK

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a handy guide for looking after your mental health. Remember, your mind is no less important than your body, so if you can make the effort to work out and keep fit, do also take the time to take care of your mental well-being.

10 things to do to improve your mental health

  1. Talk about your feelings Repressing emotions is harmful in the long run, so talk to someone you feel comfortable with in times when you feel troubled. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know or even a person at all; sometimes writing your thoughts down in a journal or on a blog can also be cathartic.
  2. Stay active We don’t need to expound any more on the benefits of exercise. Regular exercise can energise you, boost your self-esteem, and help you sleep and concentrate better—all important factors to feeling good in general.
  3. Eat good You can’t expect to fill your body with trash and not face the consequences, both physically and mentally. A diet that benefits your body will also benefit your mental health. “You are what you eat”—it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
  4. Be sensible with drinking Plenty of people drink to deal with negative feelings and, yes, alcohol can help you change your mood and lose your inhibitions, but it’s important to remember this is only temporary. In the bright light of day when your head is pounding and your mouth feels like the Sahara desert, you will feel even worse. We’re not saying abstain completely; just don’t use alcohol as a way to drown your feelings.
  5. Connect with people No matter how much of a self-proclaimed lone wolf you are, the fact remains that we all need human contact. Maintaining friendships may seem like a big burden, especially when you’re not at your best, but ultimately you will feel better for having people around to support you. A simple text can do the trick.
  6. Ask for help This is such an important point. Repeat after me: asking for help doesn’t make me weak. We all have times when we’re tired and overwhelmed, when the world is too much, and we just want to hide like a squirrel in a nice tree and hibernate the days away. Reach out and ask for help when you cannot cope. If talking to someone you know doesn’t appeal to you, there are lots of anonymous hotlines for help available.
  7. Do something you’re good at Do an activity that you enjoy or are good at. Losing yourself in something you enjoy doing is a great way to beat stress. Don’t feel like you need to account for what it is, or have a physical result to show for it; the simple feeling of having achieved something, tangible or otherwise, can boost your self-esteem.
  8. Take a break Hit pause every now and then and give yourself some ‘me time’. Turn your focus inwards and evaluate what your mood is, how you’re feeling, and what the stressors in your life are at that moment—all without judgement (we know that you can be your own harshest critic). Consider that a periodic change of scene or pace can really reset your mood and help you destress; this can be as simple as walking through a part of your neighbourhood that you’ve never been down before.
  9. Accept who you are In our hyper-connected world, it is all too easy to see other people and be hit with a bad case of envy or FOMO. It is much healthier to accept your unique self than aim to be like someone else. Focus on yourself, your needs, and what makes you feel good.
  10. Extend a hand Supporting others can do wonders in uplifting your own mood. Everybody is muddling through life, just like you, so you’re not alone in your struggle. Accept help, then pay it forward by reaching out to someone else who is also struggling.

Keep scrolling for more tips 👇

By Bupa Global Sponsored | 19 March 2020

In Hong Kong, there is still a social stigma surrounding mental health. A lot of issues regarding depression, anxiety, and mood- or trauma-related disorders are brushed under the carpet in the hopes that they will simply disappear if ignored for long enough. Needless to say, this is not a healthy way of dealing with things in the slightest.

Mind Hong Kong has therefore launched their #HowOkayAreYou campaign for World Mental Health Day, with the aim to inspire open conversations and change the general public’s preconceived notions about mental health. Although the day proper has already come and gone, looking after mental health should be an ongoing effort.

As most of you will already know, in Hong Kong society, the common response given to the question “How are you?” will always be “Okay”—regardless of what the honest answer is. By adding #HowOkayAreYou to the script, Mind Hong Kong encourages an honest reflection of feelings and a truer response.

In a fun little way to make talking about a difficult topic somewhat easier to digest, they have also launched a selection of WhatsApp stickers, created in collaboration with eight local illustrators. By offering the vocabulary and visual stimuli to identify how they feel, the hope is that users will feel more comfortable talking about and responding to feelings and mental health in general. Click here to learn more about the campaign and join the conversation.

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor-at-large

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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