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There are many ways to keep your mind and mood in optimal shape. If you are seeking medical treatment, your doctor will first assess you to determine your condition, before discussing the diagnosis and treatment options with you, then coordinating your care with relevant departments such as psychology, occupational therapy and medical social services.

How psychology can help

Psychology offers psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, and other mental health conditions.

"As a psychologist, I aim to help patients lead healthier, more fulfilling lives through various therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy," shares Psychologist Audrey Bay from the Department of Psychology at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

"This is done by working with them (patients) to change unhelpful thoughts or habits by developing new ways to meet emotional needs, accept uncomfortable experiences, and live a ‘value-driven life’." 

Ms Bay explains a ‘value-driven life’ as behaving and leading a life consistent with one’s personal values, which guides how the person makes decisions and acts on it.

"For example, if you value being a caring person, this may translate into you giving compliments or showing concern towards others. When we behave in ways in line with our values, we feel fulfilled and satisfied," she adds. 

How occupational therapy can help

Conditions like anxiety or depression can disrupt a person's ability to engage in occupations, like self-care, leisure or day-to-day activities. Ms Jess Chen and fellow occupational therapists from SKH's Department of Occupational Therapy, seek to better understand patients' interests, strengths, environments and habits, so as to help them develop skills to return to their previous level of functioning and engagement.

"In uncertain times, having a routine can reap positive well-being benefits as it provides a sense of control. Routines also bring a sense of calm and comfort."

She advises drafting a timetable and sticking to it, and allocating time for a wide range of activities. She also highlights the importance of dedicating specific spaces for work and leisure or self-care when working from home.

How medical social services can help

According to senior Medical Social Worker (MSW) June Lee from SKH's Department of Medical Social Services, recognition and acceptance of one’s mental health conditions and treatment needs are helpful first steps in the treatment process.

We (MSWs) work a lot with the patient’s main family members to adopt the same recognition and acceptance, so they are better able to provide support and assistance.

Aside from helping to improve interpersonal relationships, MSWs also provide risk assessment and interventions in crisis situations such as suicides, abuse and family violence.

They help by linking patients up with professional and community support sources relevant to their needs and health states.

Build resilience by being mindful

Practising mindfulness can help promote mind wellness and build resilience. A type of talk therapy – mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT – has been shown to be effective at reducing relapses of depression.

Try this STOP mindfulness technique anytime you feel overwhelmed:

STOP and give yourself a moment to pause.

TAKE a few deep breaths and be fully present with what you are doing.

OBSERVE your thoughts and emotions, and let unhelpful ones go.

PROCEED into the next moment, choosing your response intentionally.

Tips to manage your emotions during challenging times

1. Cultivate an attitude of gratefulness

During difficult times, though there is an inclination to focus on the negative, try coming up with one or two things to be grateful for each day.

2. Acknowledge and label your emotions

Labelling is proven to reduce the intensity of emotions. By saying “I feel angry”, you may actually feel less angry. Address your emotions when you are calmer and have greater resilience to work out the issues that led to the difficult emotions.

 

3. Talk to a trusted someone

Venting or expressing emotions is healthier than suppression or willing yourself not to be angry, stressed, anxious or upset.

4. Get professional help

If you find your emotions getting out of hand and affecting your daily life or relationships, do consider seeking professional help.

This article was adapted from Skoop magazine (issue 7).

 

FACEBOOK LIVE TALK: Join us for the 'Think Happy, Live Healthy' Facebook Live Talk, organised by Sengkang West CCC and Sengkang General Hospital, on 24 Oct 2020 (Sat), 10am. No fees or registration required, simply tune in to the Sengkang West Facebook page or Sengkang General Hospital's Facebook page at that time to take part.

Ref: L20

See the previous page for how to manage anxiety and depression.

See page 1 for when to seek help for anxiety and depression.

Check out other articles on mental health:

Tips for Healthy Social Media Use

Depression or Sadness: How to Tell the Difference

8 Ways to Beat Stress at Work

10 Tips for Mental Wellness

20 Stress-Busting Tips from Psychiatrists

How to Better Manage Emotions at Work

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