Re-entry blues

8 ways to care for your mental health

Engaging in physical exercise can improve psychological functioning and moods.
Engaging in physical exercise can improve psychological functioning and moods.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

1. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

The first step is to recognise stress and anxiety when you experience them.

Allow yourself to notice your emotions even if they are negative. The more you suppress and resist them, the more they will work against you.

Recognise what your triggers and problem areas are, like recognising why you feel happy about something. Emotions exist for a reason.

2. ACCEPT THAT IT IS OKAY TO FEEL THIS WAY

Adjusting to a new norm can be difficult. With regard to work performance, there may be expectations from yourself and your superiors to do well.

These feelings and thoughts can be challenging to deal with. But remember that it is okay to feel vulnerable in such a situation and try not to be too harsh on yourself.

3. TAKE BABY STEPS TO DEVELOP NEW HABITS

Set small steps that could help you overcome your anxiety, such as taking public transport to work during non-peak hours.

These can help you regain some sense of control and confront your sources of anxiety.

4. ESTABLISH A NEW ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT

Having a routine will give you comfort and a sense of control in stressful situations. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new situation and form a new routine, which can help ease your anxiety.

You may want to engage in activities such as mindfulness and deep breathing exercises, which can help reduce stress.

Consider starting the day with a simple activity like taking deep breaths, stretching or having breakfast.

5. DOCUMENT YOUR THOUGHTS

Journaling can have positive health benefits. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to write down all your thoughts.

This can help you gain perspective, clarity and understand your thoughts and emotions better.

6. STAY CONNECTED TO LOVED ONES

Avoid using the pandemic as an excuse to distance yourself from your loved ones.

Use technology to keep in touch with friends and family, such as through voice calls, video conferencing, messaging or e-mails.

7. TAKE CARE OF YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH

Engaging in physical exercise and having a healthy and well-balanced diet as well as seven to nine hours of quality sleep can improve psychological functioning and moods.

8. SEEK HELP IF THINGS GET OVERWHELMING

Try to seek support from family, friends and trusted colleagues as much as possible.

You can also approach your general practitioner, who can provide medical advice and a referral to a mental health provider.

There is also the option of online counselling, where you can speak with a professional to learn to be more in tune with your emotions and take charge of your mental well-being in a safe, private and confidential setting.

• Sources: Mr Chad Yip, clinical psychologist for Noah and Zoey, digital health platforms for men and women; and Dr Felicia Neo, director and clinical psychologist at Neo Cooper Psychology Clinic

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2021, with the headline '8 ways to care for your mental health '. Subscribe