Observe Mental Health Hygiene rituals to beat stress and attain positivity, suggests UAE based Psychologist


24th Aug, 2020, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: The current pandemic has turned the world upside down and is stressful for people in many ways. Fear and anxiety is common and is leading to overwhelming emotions due to the uncertainty of the situation. However, as we are taking pro-active measures to reduce the spread of the virus, it’s equally crucial to follow good mental health hygiene practices to attain a positive frame of mind and to be able to cope with stress in a healthy way, advises Ms Prateeksha Shetty, Clinical Psychologist at RAK Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah.


“Mental Health Hygiene consists of daily rituals and practices that one needs to engage in order to buffer every day stress. Science behind such practices emphasizes the fact that practicing acts of self care can provide a protective shield around oneself and prevent any mental health crisis. Given the rising rate of mental illness across the globe, it is important that everyone develops a routine that considers the importance of mental well being”, added Shetty.

“We have been actively working on helping people in alleviating their stress and fears through our recent initiatives which included the launch of a Mental Health Helpline as well as a COVID 19 Rehabilitation program with dedicated sessions on mental wellbeing. We must remember Mental Health Hygiene is just as important as taking care of your physical self and following some basic rules such as practicing mindfulness, sleeping well, being socially and physically active and engaging in activities you love, will foster good mental health”, commented Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital.


Ms Prateeksha suggests the following practices to help achieve an optimistic mind frame which can be modified depending on individual needs:


Regular sleep cycle: Adults require 7-8 hours of good quality sleep without any disruptions or difficulties falling back to sleep. One of the simplest ways is to make sure waking hour and bed time are more or less the same every day. This would help set your circadian rhythm and help regulate your mood, negative thoughts and productivity among other things. Avoiding any stimulating activity, screen time, beverages or discussions an hour or so before bed time is important to help ease into sleep. If one experiences difficulties in sleep cycle, it is recommended to avoid checking time and counting hours left to sun rise. Additionally, restricting the bed and area around the bed to activity of sleep alone will help structure your behavior and expectations.


Nutritious diet: Diet consisting of fruits, fibrous food and proteins is known to enhance the activity level and overall sense of well being. However, at the same time, it is also important to sometimes reward yourself while giving into cravings (in moderation) with self- compassion. Moreover, ensure that you aren’t using food to soothe yourself when anxious, sad or angry. If yes, then you will need to substitute it with healthy snacks/meals while working on regulating the distress levels simultaneously.


Activity level: The WHO emphasizes 30 minutes of exercise every day, in some form or the other. Understanding what kind of physical exercise motivates you is very important as not everyone is interested or can afford to go to a gym. Instead activities like running, walking, cycling, swimming or working out at home may need to be explored. Exercise has been scientifically observed to improve mood by releasing natural endorphins.


Positive emotions: We often forget to consciously inculcate positive emotions in our daily lives as we get caught up with work and familial responsibilities. Positive emotions such as kindness and gratitude are particularly important in fostering a sense of well being. Activities that one takes pleasure in can also be used to create such positive emotions which can help balance our negative thoughts and emotions.


Grounding exercises: Being mindful of our experiences can help us ground ourselves to the immediate present without being entangled with the transient state of life. Spending 10-15 minutes a day in mindful meditation has shown to play an important role in regulating sleep, worries, pain and any other negative state of mind that we may experience.


Social support system: A good social support system consisting of close friends and family can help buffer stress and help us become more resilient in difficult times.