Taking steps towards better mental health

There has been much discussion about mental health and in the education sector, the mental wellbeing of teachers in recent months. Singapore-based teachers, for example, have faced pressure to pivot to online learning quickly over the last couple of years, manage parents’ expectations and juggle COVID-related administrative matters on top of an already-heavy workload. 

Having to manage not only their own mental health but also their students’ is overwhelming. As we approach October (Mental Health Awareness Month), let’s remind ourselves to make a conscious effort to practice positive psychology and engage in good mental health hygiene as dedicating time to positive behaviors could improve mental wellbeing. 

Taking steps towards better mental health

Tips to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being present and practicing self-control over reactions and thoughts. Here are some ways to go about your day mindfully:

  1. Take time to notice each task daily. For example, practice mindful eating – focus on each bite, chew slowly and concentrate on the taste and texture of your food. Use mealtime as me-time and take a break from doing work-related matters if possible. 
  2. Use a mindfulness aid such as a mobile application or watching online videos. There are several options on the market with guided programmes to track your mindfulness. Dedicate time each day to preventive mental health care steps and soon, you may find yourself developing a routine of practicing mindfulness. 
  3. Doing things with intention. Wake up with purpose and set goals for your day. Check in with yourself throughout the day to monitor the quality of your mood, stress levels and relationships. 

Tips to practice gratitude

Pause and notice the opportunities, privileges and people in your life. While there may be instances throughout the day that cause discomfort, unhappiness or upset, try to find moments, big or small, to reflect on how fortunate you are. Research has shown that practicing gratitude correlates to better sleep, lower anxiety levels and greater optimism. 

  1. Let others know you appreciate them. Be it through text, email, or in person, thank someone for something they have done for you, or made you feel. Spreading positivity and gratitude can lead to others practicing gratitude too. 
  2. Use a mobile application to track your growth and gratitude moments. Note down your gratitude moments to be able to look back and relive them. 

Mental health hygiene is very much about establishing daily practices to maintain overall wellbeing. The tips above are a good start and we hope that in our daily struggles as educators, parents, students or colleagues, we find positive moments and ways to improve our mental wellbeing.