Mental health covers an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It will have an impact on how we think, feel, and decide as we cope with our life. Mental health helps to combat stress as well as the decision-making process. Mental health is essential in every stage of life, right from childhood to old age through adolescence and adulthood. Though mental health is very essential for both genders, in this section we are going to share about caring for mental health for women.
To maintain mental health, women have to nurture skills and habits that will enable them to face the challenges of life and rise positively without harming their mental health. Sharing with you a few caring tips that can be practiced in your day-to-day life to take care of your mental health.
Journaling is a way of expressing yourself. Regular updating of the journal enables you to track daily symptoms of mental issues and will help you identify triggers that spoil your mental health. It will help you to identify solutions to manage them better too. Journaling also helps you to organize your tasks and manage time efficiently, which will ultimately keep you stress-free.
2) Balanced Diet:
Balanced diet is a key to improving your mental health along with improving your physical health. Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, calcium, iron, and zinc alleviate the symptoms of depression. Make sure you include all food groups in your diet such as whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and enough water. Reduce caffeinated drinks.
3) Physical Activity:
Activities such as aerobic exercises will release endorphins that will help you alleviate stress and promote calmness. Performing daily physical exercise helps to improve sleep habits and quality, and may reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also, exercise keeps your weight under control and your vital organs healthy. You can practice Surya Namaskar, Zumba, dance, skipping, as well as walking as part of your daily physical activity. Practice Meditation / Yoga which are key tools for relaxing your mind.
4) Sufficient Sleep:
A sleep of 7 to 9 hrs daily is required for good mental health. Adequate duration of sleep enables the body and mind to rest and relax properly. When you had a good night sleep, the next day you will feel pleasant
5) Say No:
There are no hard rules that you should always perform/work always. You can say “No” at a certain point in life and relax so that you can be more productive later.
6) Exposure to Sunlight:
Make a habit of exposing yourself to sunlight for 15 minutes daily which is shown to boost vitamin D and elevate your mood. Sunlight exposure also enables the release of nitric oxide in the blood that will maintain healthy blood pressure levels and thus manage mental health.
This is a mental as well as a physical technique that can be used to focus your alertness on the present moment. It can be practiced by anyone. Practicing mindfulness can keep you concentrating on your work, thus leading to better results which in turn leads to reducing stress and anxiety. When you perform your work mindfully, it improves creativity that will give you more recognition and also a sense of satisfaction and better relationships.
Expressing gratitude enables us to develop long-term and sustainable relationships. Showing gratitude will induce positive emotions, happiness, feelings of pleasure, and contentment for things and people in your life. Gratitude improves interpersonal relations both at home as well as work. When relationships are fine, you will have good mental health.
9) Be Positive:
You all know, life is very uncertain. Anything can happen at any point which can affect your mental health. Training positive thinking will help us face those situations as life will not always be a bed of roses. Being positive enables a person to think positively as well as pleasantly in every situation of life. They will take ownership of their actions and will never regret their decisions. They will find a solution to every problem. They will keep themselves as well as their circle positive.
10) Family and Friends:
Develop healthy bonding with family and friends. Strong family relations, as well as supportive friends, will help you to deal with the stresses of life. Family and friends can make you feel considered, understood as well as cared for. They offer different views from whatever is going on inside you once you share your thoughts with them. They will also provide you with practical solutions for your problems and will support you whenever required.
Engaging in hobbies like gardening, knitting, painting or crossword puzzles can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood as well as make you fresh. Doing an activity which you like the most will boost your self-esteem too.
Massages are proven to treat several psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, etc. Massages will increase the release of serotonin and dopamine which are essential for emotional wellbeing. Also, massages will reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol and keep you calm and relaxed.
13) ME time:
This doesn’t mean spending time on yourself. In fact, it means being present with yourself; mind, and body. ‘Me Time’ is a conscious effort of taking time-out to recharge your batteries and nourishing yourself. Me time can be spent in various ways such as having a bath, reading a book, going for a walk, getting your hair or nails done, and many other activities. It should essentially be like as long as you are alone with your thoughts and performing mindfulness during any activity, you’re successfully spending some quality ME time.
Nature trips or trekking helps you to relax and cleanse your mind, leaving behind daily worries and stresses. Also, trekking helps in the increased production of endorphins, the happy hormones, besides improving your problem-solving skills.
15) Gadgets Free time:
Turning off and/or leaving behind your smartphone, tablet, and laptop halts the constant flow and interruption of messages, and can bring relaxation and real-life reconnection.
16) Practice forgiveness:
Those who do forgive others — or even themselves — report better mental health and life satisfaction.
17) Work Place:
Often, a woman’s mental health issues can be worsened by her workplace atmosphere. A job change can give a renewed sense of purpose.. However, it is difficult to rejoin the workforce or switch jobs, when you are mentally unhealthy. In such a scenario, take a break and come back. Many organizations offer mental health services, vocational rehabilitation services, employment support, and job counseling services. Avail services whenever you feel disturbed.
18) Sharing and Caring:
Take help whenever required. Don’t behave as if you are a superwoman and you don’t need any support. There is no harm in seeking help, especially from family members. Also, caring for others whenever someone approaches you is essential for keeping relationships close to you. Taking care of a pet can improve your mental wellbeing too. If you are a pet lover, you will enjoy taking care of it, as the bond between you and your pet can be as strong as between people. Looking after a pet can bring structure to your day and act as a link to other people.
Therapies for Mental Health
- Music therapy – It is an important non-pharmacological method used in the treatment of psychiatric and behavioral disorders. When music therapy is used in combination with other forms of treatment, it helps to reduce obsessive thoughts, depression, and anxiety in people with OCD. Music therapy affects reduced release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and thus relieves the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also, engaged with music activates the regions of brain that influences memory, emotions, movement, sensory relay, some involuntary functions, decision-making, and reward. A 30 to 50 mins music once or twice a week based on your availability and requirements.
- Dance therapy – A review study reported using dance movement therapy is beneficial in lowering depression and anxiety and an increase in physical skills such as walking, turning, and balance among individuals who practed dance movement therapy for 22 weeks. It improves individual’s body image, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-consciousness, thus increases quality of life and decrsease symptoms of anxiety and depression by expressing anger, happiness, and sadness through particular dance movements.
In short, when you are taking care of yourself well in terms of lifestyle and diet your overall, as well as mental health, will be in good condition. Never compromise on your mental health for anything. Even after following all the above-said tips, you are still feeling mentally disturbed, consult a psychologist without further delay.
Mental Health Support Sites
http://nimhans.ac.in/pssmhs-helpline/ – It is a 24 x 7 toll-free helpline.
Mpowerminds.com/oneonone – This is a free service and therapists are available to take calls 24 x 7.
https://snehaindia.org/new/ – Service is free. Timings are 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. on all days. Due to pandemic, currently, 10.00 am to 2.00 pm only
http://kashmirlifeline.org/ – The service is free and is open from Sunday to Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm.
http://lifelinefoundation.in/ – Seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm.
Author: Dr Shunmukha Priya
- Bidabadi SS, Mehryar A. Music therapy as an adjunct to standard treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder and co-morbid anxiety and depression: A randomized clinical trial. J Affect Disord. 2015;184:13-7. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.04.011
- Witusik, A., & Pietras, T. (2019). Music therapy as a complementary form of therapy for mental disorders. Polski merkuriusz lekarski : organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego, 47(282), 240–243.
- American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Music therapy with specific populations: Fact sheets, resources & bibliographies