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The Importance of Taking Good Care of Our Mental Health
By taking the active decision to join Puerfons as a member, it is one of your top priorities to feel well, physically obviously, but also mentally. However, while there is a common understanding of what is meant by physical health, for many of us mental health is more difficult to grasp. This is our topic for this month.
Strong mental health is not just the absence of mental health problems. Mental health is overwhelming because it influences how we think, feel, and behave in daily life. Just as physically healthy people are better able to recover from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. They can maintain a positive outlook in front of setbacks or an uncertain future for instance.
But what “feeling well” means varies for each of us. We all need different things to feel our best. For some of us going to a funny movie, taking a walk on the beach, listening to classic music, doing yoga, reading a good book or playing with our children can be such good habits. More generally, making leisure time one of your priority, exercising more and opening up to people are recommended recipes.
Mental health awareness is important, and we have to be conscious that mental health can, and relatively often does, go wrong. Roughly a quarter of the population regularly struggle with it. It can be anxiety disorders (such as panic disorders for instance) or mood disorders (also called depression). Research is starting to uncover the complicated causes of these diseases, which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, like heart disease. Stigma against mental illness is still powerful though, largely due to stereotypes and lack of education.
From science we now know that there are tips and techniques which improve our mental health. Stanford’s neurologist Dr. Andrew Huberman for instance advocates gratitude (that is the “feel good” or “feel capable” types of sensations), breathing techniques to remain calm, the acceptance of uncertainty, the habit of good sleep and the wrongdoings of too much time spent in front of a screen. He points out also that exposure to more lights during the day (particularly in the morning) is critical for healthy sleep patterns. Many practices are actually accessible to all of us. One of them is the “five minutes of stillness” practice. Meditation or mindfulness has been called as a push-up for the brain as found by researchers in Harvard. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain they have shown how quickly subjects practicing short sequences of meditation can disengage from negative thoughts.
Although it is still difficult to understand how our brain functions, it is so rewarding to think that there are now tools, which can become habits, that will help us to be more comfortable in our mind and our body. In other words, it depends also on ourselves to learn how to feel good!
從科學上，我們現在知道一些可以改善我們的心理健康技巧和技術。例如，史丹福大學的神經病學家Andrew Huberman博士主張以感恩思維（即保持「感覺良好」或「自我肯定」的感覺）、保持鎮靜的呼吸技巧、接受未知事物的心態、良好睡眠的習慣。他還指出，於白晝（尤其是早晨）吸收更多自然光線對於健康的睡眠習慣至關重要。 我們所有人都能在日常生活中多多實踐各種方法—其中之一是「五分鐘的靜止」練習。哈佛大學的研究人員發現，冥想可對大腦帶來正面的刺激。通過對大腦進行功能磁力共振的掃描，證明練習冥想的短時間內，參加者可以脫離負面的想法。
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