6 ways to take care of your mental health
PCC Principal Counsellor Tan Hui Ping gives practical tips on caring for your mind.
Taking care of your health, body, mind, emotions and lifestyle is a self-responsibility that helps your mental health, says Parkway Cancer Centre Principal Counsellor Tan Hui Ping. She shared some bite-size and actionable tips that could be taken in caring for one’s mental wellness. “Don’t stress yourself that you need to do all these things at once. Just do a bit of each and choose those that work for you,” she says. By doing these activities repeatedly, consciously and continuously, it will become a habit and part of your lifestyle eventually.
Confirm appointments: Check your calendar to avoid unnecessary hospital visits.
Find alternatives to consultation mode: Ask your doctor if you can opt for teleconsultation.
Reschedule procedures: Consult your doctor to see if non-urgent scans, tests or procedures could be postponed.
Ensure enough medication: Without hoarding, ensure sufficient medication in case you need to stay home or don’t have someone to help you get more.
Home-based medical services: Find out about services that could be provided at home such as blood-taking.
Eat well: Get plenty of fruits and vegetables. Staying healthy is important for mental health as well as your resilience to Covid-19.
Sleep well: Maintain your bedtime routine to encourage good sleeping habits even if you are working from home the following day.
Exercise: Cancer patients often reduce their activities, which can intensify anxiety. Physical exercise is good, even for a short while. The more you walk around, even at home, the better. Go outside if you want to as sunlight provides Vitamin D which is good for your body.
Maintain personal hygiene: Avoid crowds when you go out, as your immune system may be weak. Put on a mask, wash your hands frequently and practise social distancing.
Take one day at a time: A lot of adjustments are needed during this period. It is OK to take one day at a time. You don’t have to be 100 per cent productive every day.
Stay in the present: Free your mind from the done past and unknown future. Focus on the here and now and what you can do.
Write a journal: Messy and racing thoughts can weigh you down, writing quiets your busy mind, clarifies and processes what you’re experiencing. It may also give you new perspectives.
Use your spiritual life for support: Draw strength and comfort from your faith, such as doing your prayers, singing and reading.
Check in with yourself: Just as we ask others, “How are you?”, we should also ask ourselves, “How am I today?”. Attend to your own emotions by acknowledging whatever feelings you are experiencing. Ask yourself what you can do to soothe or comfort yourself.
Practise self-compassion: There are a lot of things happening to you and around you such that you could be upset, angry, worried or scared. Be kinder to and less critical of yourself. You are doing whatever you can.
Set aside “Me Time”: Do things that feed your soul, such as revisiting your hobbies, listening to your favourite music, eating your favourite foods and drinks (within moderation) or whatever that restores you, as long as it’s not harmful to your health.
Get offline: With staying at home most of the time, it makes one check Covid-19 related social media and news more regularly. It is alright to step out of the virtual world from time to time. Put the phone aside for a few hours as distressing and fake news do no good to your mental health.
Maintain your routine: Try to retain some normalcy within the disruption, so that it’s easier to transit back to regular life when the restrictions are eased. Avoid the temptation to work on weekends or check your work messages constantly.
Connect with others: Distance does not mean distant. Use social media to connect with family members and friends such as having video calls, singing together online, exercising virtually or do something that binds and connects you.
Send a postcard or letter: While social media is a great way to connect, writing and sending a good old-fashioned postcard or letter can really encourage and bring a smile to someone’s face (and yours too)!
Spring a pleasant surprise: Comfort food comforts the soul. Surprise a loved one or friend with a specially cooked meal or something they like. Seeing their appreciation and happiness will make you happy too, and help with your mental health.
6. BE CARED FOR
Ask for help: There are times when you can’t do everything yourself. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help. Have someone to pick up your groceries or post your mail. Sometimes, people are eager to help but don’t know how.
“Grab” a driver: Ask someone to drive you to hospital for your check-up or treatment, to visit someone, or to buy something. This minimises your risks of getting infected through using public transport.
Embrace emotional support: Sometimes, it is nice to just have a listening ear or see a familiar inviting face. A phone or video call is a great way to embrace emotional support from others.
Tags: cancer & exercise, cancer counsellor, cancer diet & nutrition, cancer positive thinking, cancer quality of life, cancer tips, healthy food & cooking, healthy lifestyle, managing emotions, self-care strategies, stress and cancer