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Self Help

7 Throwback Songs to Lighten Your Spirits

Ah, the magic of music!

Music therapy has proven to have great benefits for several mental health conditions, including depression, trauma, and schizophrenia. Music is a good medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief — and can also be used as a calming tool for anxiety or dysregulation.

A method called lyric analysis is one of the most commonly used music therapy interventions with those struggling with mental health. It is a less intimidating approach involving deeply understanding and analyzing lyrics to better process and describe emotions that are otherwise hard to explain. Uplifting music is also used to motivate listeners to apply its positive message to their obstacles in life! Here are some throwback songs you can try analyzing to lighten your spirits if you’re feeling down:

1. “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty

Memorable lines: “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell… I’m just a little impaired”

Why you should listen: There’s no reason to feel that no one will ever understand what you are going through. The lyrics perfectly describe what anyone with a mental illness is going through, so if you need something to make you feel less alone, this song is it.

Listen to “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty on Spotify

2. “Shake it out” by Florence + The Machine

Memorable lines: “And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back; so shake him off!”

Why you should listen: Many people with mental illness hide their issues because they feel they have conform to societal norms or avoid stigma. But bottling up your feelings can lead to worse consequences in the future. Instead, try to find healthy outlets to express yourself.

Listen to “Shake it out” by Florence + The Machine on Spotify

3. “Let it be” by The Beatles

Memorable lines: “There will be an answer, let it be!”

Why you should listen: Life goes on and that change is a part of that life. So when everything seems hopeless, remember that nothing lasts forever. Instead of worrying over the future, just focus on what you can be grateful for today.

Listen to “Let it Be” by The Beatles on Spotify

4. “Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia

Memorable lines: You shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am titanium”

Why you should listen: When the going gets tough, it’s your mental strength that will get you through it. Cultivate habits that build positivity and resiliency so you can manage difficult situations better.

Listen to “Titanium” by David Guetta ft. Sia on Spotify

5. “Flashlight” by Jessie J

Memorable lines: “I’m stuck in the dark but you’re my flashlight / You’re getting me, getting me through the night”

Why you should listen: No one can battle a mental illness alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help, surround yourself with supportive people, and avoid those who only add toxicity to your life.

Listen to “Flashlight” by Jessie J on Spotify

6. “Wounds” by Kid Cudi

Memorable lines: “When you cannot find the version of yourself you seek /
You should dig deep / I’ma sew these wounds myself”

Why you should listen: Wounds is a great song for people fighting depression. In the song, we hear questions why we doesn’t feel “whole”, but it’s also talks about acceptance and learning to heal.

Listen to “Wounds” by Kid Cudi on Spotify

7. “Firework” by Katy Perry

Memorable lines: “Cause baby you’re a firework / Come on show ’em what you’re worth / Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!” / As you shoot across the sky-y-y”

Why you should listen: You can be an inspiration to others, even if you are struggling with mental illness. By sharing your story, you can encourage others to open up about their own issues and in the process seek support or treatment, thereby easing the loneliness and despair that they are most likely feeling.

Listen to “Firework” by Katy Perry on Spotify

Listening to music has been proven to help regulate emotions, improve mood, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life. Do yourself a favor and plug on the earphones a few hours a day. Your mind will thank you for it!

Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Ways to Care for Your Child’s Mental Health During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown us is that everything is uncertain. And no one feels the confusion more than our children who suddenly find their carefree lives on pause due to the lockdown. Suddenly, they are no longer allowed to play with friends, eat at their favorite restaurant on weekends, go on vacations. They also have endless questions about the virus, some of which us parents have no answers to, either!

Here are some ways you can help your children cope:

Stick to a schedule

In times of uncertainty, the structure of a daily routine provides predictability. Even if it feels as if they are on vacation because they no longer go to school, children should still follow regular wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes, study time, and even time for play.

Make exercise mandatory

Just because they need to stay indoors does not mean they should be sedentary. Physical activity not only boosts the immune system (important when we are in the midst of a pandemic) it has also been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Engage in rough play with younger kids, while older kids can do simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and planking. 

Explain social distancing in an age-appropriate manner.

While younger children are content to just stay at home, teenagers may bristle at the loss of their freedom of movement, especially when they read on the news that their age group is not at high risk for contracting the disease. Instead of imposing your will, explain to them that while they might not get sick from COVID-19, there is the chance that they will become carriers of the virus and inadvertently infect older, more susceptible members of the household.

Filter news about the pandemic.

While we do want our children to be informed, barraging them with facts and figures (especially with infected, death, and recovery statistics) might overwhelm or frighten them. Instead, focus on imparting news that will make them feel safe and reassured, i.e. that scientists and policy-makers all over the world are doing all they can to find a solution.

Relax the rules on screen time.

If you used to only allow your child to play with their gadgets a few hours a day, consider allowing them an extra hour or so to video-chat with friends and extended family. This helps foster connections in the midst of social distancing. 

Lastly, remember that children take their emotional and behavioral cues from their parents. If they see you being stressed and anxious, they will most likely feel the same. So be a good role model and take care of your own mental health too.

Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

5 ways meditation can improve your mental health

People used to think that meditation (or the process of training the mind to focus on the breath) was only something that monks, gurus, or hermits did in mountaintop temples or caves. But in recent years, practitioners of conventional medicine have also begun to prescribe mindful breathing techniques as a means of improving one’s mental health.

Here are 5 science-based benefits of meditation:

  • Reduces stress. When you focus your attention on your breath, you eliminate the jumbled and stress-inducing thoughts that are running around your head.
  • Controls anxiety. By focusing on your breathing, you are directing your mind to the safe present, instead of to an uncertain future.
  • Promotes emotional health. Meditation teaches us that we are like bystanders standing on the sidewalk, and that the cars passing by in front of us are our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Instead of forcing ourselves to run with the cars/emotions (which may cause stress, anxiety, and depression), we should simply acknowledge that they exist, then allow them to go by without making any judgements.
  • Lengthens attention span. Meditation is all about grounding and becoming aware of the “now”. The practice trains your brain to focus instead of wander.
  • Can make you more empathic. When you are calmer and less anxious, you become less irritable and short-tempered. You also develop more positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.

Meditation is to the mind what exercise is to the body. If you want to give it a try but don’t know how to go about it, apps like Headspace and Calm are beginner-friendly places to start. Good luck and don’t forget to inhale, exhale!

Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

8 Ways To Eat Better While On Lockdown

As we approach Week I-Have-Lost-Count of the lockdown, many of us have been eating more canned, processed, or junk food than usual. Whether it’s to pass time or prepare meals quicker, this habit does no good for our bodies or our brains.

Yes, gut health has been scientifically proven to affect mental health as well. There have been many studies showing that people with poor diet exhibit more mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.

But how can you start eating healthy when you barely know how to turn on the stove, or when access to your healthier food supply is limited? Here are some easy suggestions to kickstart your road to better eating:

1. Eat more fruits.

Switch up your sweets with fruits! They satiate your palate with less harmful effects versus its refined, packaged counterparts.

2. Control portion sizes.

We’re not saying you should stop eating junk food – but instead of finishing the whole bag in one sitting, take it as a challenge to not chomp down until you’re full. Take a small serving for yourself, just enough to have a taste of that snack you love and save the rest for next time!

3. Drink more water.

Drinking enough water keeps our brain from having to struggle against the effects of dehydration, allowing us to think more clearly than if we let ourselves get dehydrated. For a refreshing boost, you can add slices of lemon, cucumber, or mint. If you must have juices, go for the unsweetened variants, and just add a bit of honey.

4. Switch to whole grains.

White rice is tasty but also highly processed. You can get more nutrients (and maybe feel a lot more full) from unpolished grains – black/red/brown rice. If you find their taste too bland, cook them in broth, add garlic or add pandan instead of just plain water.

5. Try a meatless diet once a week

A balanced meatless diet is that it is full of “superfoods” like berries and nuts that are known to be beneficial for mental functioning. Vegetarians, in cross-sectional and interventional studies, showed fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and mood disturbance than omnivores. Grilled cheese sandwiches, mashed potatoes, and mushroom soup are examples of meatless meals that are delicious but also easy to make.

6. Make yogurt a kitchen staple.

Yogurt is rich in probiotics (friendly gut bacteria) and have been proven to positively affect mental health directly. Purchase the plain/unsweetened variants, and just add fruits or honey for some healthy sweetness.

7. Set up a meal schedule.

Eating whenever you feel like it will just lead to mindless snacking. Instead, follow an eating schedule as if it were a regular workday, so that you become more aware and in control of your consumption.

8. Rearrange your pantry.

Out of sight is out of mind, so keep the sweets and junk food in hard-to-reach places like the topmost rack. Then put the healthier snack alternatives at eye level.

With just a few modifications, you are on your way to locking down a healthier quarantine diet. Bon appetit!

Categories
Mental Health 101

Supermom might be Super Stressed

This weekend, forget the flowers and chocolates; what moms need more are longer naps and someone else to do the meal-planning.

Stay-at-home mom. Single mom. Working mom. Working-from-home mom.

Whatever kind of mom they are, we can be sure that each and everyone of them is more stressed than usual these days, as the day-to-day anxieties of managing the home are now compounded by the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, how about giving your mom the gift of better mental health? Here are some ways you can relieve their mental tension:

  • Take on a task. By taking just one or two things away from her to-do list, you are giving mom the gift of time – time that she can use to rest and for her brain to slow down. No gesture is too small — if you can’t cook, offer to be the one to order takeout; if you don’t know how to operate the washing machine, at least offer to hang the clothes up afterwards.
  • Encourage her to exercise. Physical movement can release anxiety and mentally rejuvenate those under stress. Exercise also releases endorphins (chemicals that make us happy). Look for online workouts that you can do together, or offer to be her timer or spotter when she does her reps.
  • Make her laugh. There’s a reason for the saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” A good belly laugh can dispel worries faster than you can say “Knock knock.” Encourage her laughter, whether it’s looking at funny videos on Youtube or convincing her to watch sitcoms instead of Korean dramas.
  • Give her sleep. Many mothers are plagued by insomnia, so a full-night’s sleep (or even just a quality nap) is the best gift you can give. Watch the kids in the other room while she naps, or take over their bedtime routine at night so that she has time to wind down herself after a long day of managing the household. Then in the morning, be the one to wake the kids and manage their breakfast needs, to allow her a bit of a lie-in. The gift of sleep will give her back her brain, her sense of calm, and allow her to access the parts of herself that become reactive and anxious when sleep-deprived.
  • Listen. Moms often turn to girl friends for advice, but because everyone is isolating at home and there are no more opportunities for girls’ night outs, she must be feeling pretty lonely and unsupported right now. Offer your services instead, and when you do, simply listen and refrain from giving advice (unless she expressly asks for it). Try not to focus on the subject of her worry, but instead, validate the feelings and emotions around it. More often than not, she just needs someone to unburden her feelings to; a reassuring gesture or an understanding nod will make her feel that she is not alone.

Remember that a happy mom can translate to a happy home and family. So if the wonderful super mom in your life continues to struggle emotionally, encourage her to seek care from her doctor and a licensed mental health therapist trained in maternal mental health. Reassure her she does not need to keep it in.

Have a calm and beautiful Mother’s Day!

Written by Jacq of MindNation

Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Common Misconceptions About Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Let us break the stigma associated with mental illness!

In a report published last October 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified mental disorders as one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. In fact, it is expected that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives

Globally, there are around 450 million people who are currently suffering from mental problems, but nearly two-thirds of them are not getting professional help. They choose to suffer in silence, mostly because they worry about the stigma and discrimination that they might face if their condition becomes known. Many myths and misconceptions about the mentally ill still abound, and people with symptoms are afraid that their loved ones will shun them, or their careers and employment will be affected.

Below are some common mental health myths:

1. You’re either mentally ill or mentally healthy

First of all, we do not hold our physical bodies to the same either/or standard — we know that it is possible to have the physical health of an Olympic athlete, or be bedridden forever, or to be a relatively normal person with poor eyesight or high cholesterol.

The same is true with our minds – mental health is a spectrum and a person may fall anywhere within that range. They can be severely mentally ill (i.e. diagnosed with schizophrenia or major depression), or simply have an emotional problem or two. Even if you think you are doing well, there is a good chance you are not 100% mentally healthy. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates only about 17% of adults are in a state of “optimal” mental health.

2. Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

Truth: Many people automatically assume that people with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions are mentally “weak.” But mental strength is not the same as mental health. Just as someone with diabetes can still run a marathon, someone with depression can still be mentally strong. In fact, many people with mental health issues are incredibly mentally strong – it’s how they are still able to do what society expects of them (go to work, be a parent, etc) despite feeling the way they do.

3. You can’t prevent mental health problems.

Truth: It’s true that not all mental health problems are avoidable – factors like genetics and traumatic life events make some mental disorders inevitable. But there are steps you can take to improve your mental health and prevent further mental illness – establishing healthy habits (i.e. good sleep, exercise) and getting rid of the destructive ones (i.e. comparing yourself to what you see on social media) can go a long way in making your mind better.

4. People with mental illness are unstable/crazy/unhinged/violent.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Truth: Perpetrators of violent crimes most likely have a mental illness, but not everyone with a mental illness becomes a criminal. In fact, many people with mental health problems are highly productive members of the community.

5. Mental health problems are forever.

Truth: While not all mental illnesses are fully curable (example: schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment even if the symptoms have subsided), most mental health problems are treatable, using a combination of medicine and therapy, and patients are able to return to their regular lives and activities soon after.

People with mental health problems should not be shunned. Just like we would never abandon someone with the flu, or discriminate against someone with cancer, we must also offer care and support to those who are suffering from mental illnesses.

Written by Jaclyn of MindNation

MindNation psychologists are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7. Book a session now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

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Get Inspired

May the 4th be with you!

Positive mental health advice from Yoda, Han Solo, and other “Star Wars” characters (there’s even one from Darth Vader!)

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! If you have not yet watched this blockbuster space-fantasy saga, let this current lockdown be your chance to do so! But whether you’re a newbie or a long-time fan of the films, we hope you can look past the special effects and also appreciate the movies for the mental health lessons that they offer.

Here are some classic Star Wars quotes that can help you lift your spirits against anxiety, negativity, and even depression:

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda

How many times have we hesitated doing something because of anxiety and self-doubt? Yoda teaches us that we should believe in ourselves, and to commit 100% to the task at hand. Only then can there be progress.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Darth Vader

If you find yourself feeling depressed because others are constantly putting your down, channel your inner Vader and find the strength to push on.

“Never tell me the odds.”

Han Solo

Don’t spend too much time over=analyzing things that are yet to happen; by anticipating failure, we are actually setting ourselves up for it. Instead, focus on the now, and take things one step at a time.

“You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.”

Obi Wan Kenobi

Our view of the world depends on many factors – how we were raised, what we learned from school, and our own life experiences. This means that everyone’s mindset is different, and so the things that we perceive to be true (i.e. “I am a failure,” “I cannot do this,” “It’s too hard”) are simply our interpretations of our experiences. Others may see the exact same thing but interpret it differently (“You are amazing,” “You CAN do this,” “It’s not that hard”). So make an effort to have a positive point of view, and see how different your perception of reality becomes.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.”

Yoda

Never be afraid to make mistakes, because it is only when we fail that we learn, improve, or sometimes even find better opportunities.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a real-life Yoda around for us to talk to anytime we are feeling uncertain? That being said, know that there ARE many support groups available to give you mental health support. We many not wield lightsabers, but rest assured that we are always on your side.