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7 Habits for Mental Wealth

Adopt these habits and enjoy a fulfilling life

In today’s contemporary society where we are expected to multitask and perform beyond our potential, the word “stress” comes into mind. Stress has a variation in definition across age and gender. Take for instance, stress could be learning spelling, passing a driving test, presenting a topic to your department for a seven-year old, 19-year old and 35-year old, respectively. Thus, there are seven habits that could work to our benefit in beating the dark cloud known as “stress”, and they work within the domain of increasing your self-awareness.


1. Know Yourself 

Being able to understand your strengths, weaknesses, needs and limitations is the key to identifying your threshold. It is essential to recognise your strengths and be honest with your own limitations. Some people are better with creativity, others better at relating to people. As such, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important so as to strike a balance between the two. Being aware of your strengths and weakness also helps build on acknowledging your own needs. Everyone’s needs vary across settings.As such, identify what your needs are in accordance to the task given.

2.Understand Stress
Stress is our body’s way of reacting towards demanding situations. In preparing for these, our body heightens in alertness, focus, strength and stamina.Some level of stress is healthy and gives us the energy and drive to perform (for instance, studying for a test, preparing for a presentation) or even to save our own lives (for instance not standing too close to the edge of a cliff or to push the brakes of a car to prevent a road accident). On the contrary, when stresses undermine both our mental and physical health, they can be hazardous. When responding to stress, your body responds through a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mechanism which activates resources to protect you. For instance when faced with a natural disaster such as a flood, your body would react to fight to save your family and loved ones trapped in the same situation or help you to flee from the disaster. Specifi cally, our body produces larger quantities of the chemicals such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which activates a higher heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating, and alertness – all these factors help us protect ourselves in a dangerous or challenging situation. It is important to note that our body response to stress varies across gender, personality and environmental contexts. Stress that lasts over extended periods can cause distress onto oneself and others. Particularly, it could impact on our relationship with others, mood, work, school or family life. Possible sources of stress include work, school, family, friends and environment. As such, being aware of what stress is, the source where it comes from, the possible body reaction towards stress and how it impacts our daily lives can act as cues for us to take action.

3.Know Your Goals
Goals are desired outcomes. To achieve what you want, it is important to set goals that are realistic and practical. Avoid aiming for things that are beyond your limits. Rather, understand your requirements and focus on them. It is also helpful to break goals to smaller achievable milestones along the way. For instance a long term goal of “wanting to build a successful business empire in five years” could be broken down to smaller goals such as “to decide on an area of specialisation and going for courses”. These smaller goals are designed to work towards the desired goal.

4.Know Your Priorities
Doing things one thing at a time instead of over committing to several responsibilities and
opportunities can provide respite from stress. Manage your own time effectively based on what you can do than hope to do. It would be helpful to also learn to say ‘no’ when you can’t commit to an opportunity provided. This way, you can focus your energy and strengths on what you already have to work on.

5.Know Your Support
A problem shared is problem halved is an old cliché. The knowledge of who you can confide in, ventilate to and spend time relaxing with is an important tool to alleviate stress. Family, friends an even faith are potential buffers against stress. There is no shame in talking to someone about a stressful task or event. Being able to talk it out helps bring out fresh perspectives that can help you come up with more solutions to a problem, thereby reducing stress levels.

6.Know the Balance
It is important to have a balance between work and play. In doing so, we can ensure that the level of stress that we face is of a manageable and healthy level. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask so that the work load can be shared evenly. It is important to fine tune the way we work when we realise that our levels of stress are increasing. As such, seeking professional help from therapists, organisational psychologists or counsellors could be a way of reducing some of the tension and anxiety that one could be experiencing.

7.Know How to Relax
Remember the old adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The daily routine work,
whether office work or household work takes a toll on your mind. As such, take time out to engage in activities that you enjoy. You might like catch a movie, spend time with friends and family, listen to music, read books, follow a sport or maybe play a sport. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are exercises that could induce the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness which is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly,
these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure. Try these out. You will feel the difference. In a nutshell, individuals who have made the effort to adopt these habits have reported to enjoy a more fulfi lling life, make more meaningful relationships with others, and perform better in school or at work.


A/Prof Daniel Fung is the Chairman of Medical Board, Institute of Mental Health; Senior Consultant, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Project Director, Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health (REACH), Institute of Mental Health. Jillian Boon is a Psychologist, Dept of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health.
Posted by ezyhealth on Sep 10 2012. Filed under Mental Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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