Your mind is the window to your body and soul, so make sure it receives proper nourishment.

Your brain is a powerful thing. Your mental state not only controls your consciousness, but also determines how your body functions.

Stress, grief and depression can have a negative effect on your mental health. Studies have shown that serious mental illnesses can lower life expectancy by 10 to 15 years.

Here are 10 ingredients that can boost your mental wellness for a healthier you.

  1. Get at least eight hours of sleep a day

  2. You are more alert and less prone to stress after a good night’s rest. Getting enough sleep can also improve your memory.

  3. Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, cut the risk of dementia and mental decline

  4. Good nutrition is a natural defence against stress. Begin your day with a nutritious breakfast, preferably of wholegrain cereals and fruits, and take balanced meals throughout the day.

  5. Keep yourself active. At least 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, is ideal

  6. Exercising keeps you physically strong, and reduces or prevents stress. Go for a walk or unwind with yoga. It is better to do moderate exercise regularly than to have a heavy workout occasionally.

  7. Interact with others. Talk to another person for at least 10 minutes daily

  8. Talking to people stimulates the brain. A study in the US found that talking to another person for just 10 minutes a day improves memory scores. Also, the more you interact with others, the faster your brain will work.

  9. Pick up a new skill or hobby

  10. Learning to play a musical instrument, acquiring computer skills, starting a new hobby or learning to cook a new dish can help keep your brain active and healthy.

  11. Get a mental workout. Scrabble or mahjong anyone?

  12. Engaging in mind-boggling games involves a combination of memory, decision-making and strategising, which keeps the brain active and prevents dementia. In addition, playing in a group will boost interaction.

  13. Do something for others. This is the best remedy when you’re feeling down

  14. Helping a friend or family member, or doing community work helps you to take the focus away from yourself. In turn, you will feel more positive and less helpless.

  15. Learn to manage stress. Shift your mindset and make a list

  16. Make a list of goals and check them off when they are completed. This will help you tackle things one at a time. Seeing problems as opportunities or focusing on the positive can also help to reduce stress. Stress cannot be avoided, but you can learn to manage stress.

  17. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. They are not the solutions to problems

  18. If you have emotional problems, seek support from family and friends, or get professional help. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs provide only temporary relief from stress and unhappiness.

  19. Laughter is the best medicine.

  20. Laugh yourself silly and have fun whenever you can. Laughing can help to keep the doctor away because humo​ur activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, generating emotions and relaxing the mind.

This article was adapted from the Agency for Integrated Care publication NEXTSTEP. For more information, go to www.aic.sg​

Ref: T12