Nine steps to bolster positive mental health

Everyone experiences mental health issues in life. Taking individual steps to build mental health resilience, and seeking external support when necessary, makes it easier to cope with such issues. Nurturing positive mental health enables people to realise their potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their communities.

The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, in partnership with the Armed Forces Medical College, has released ‘Building Positive Health in Nine Simple Steps: Effective Habits for a Healthy Life’, a guide to aid individuals in building and maintaining mental well-being:-

1)      Eat healthy

Have a balanced diet, combination of vegetables, whole grains, protein and fruit, to maintain brain health. Nutritional deficiencies have shown to cause symptoms of depression, fatigue, cognitive decline and other mental health issues.

2)      Practice Meditation and Yoga

Yoga techniques -- asanas (postures), pranayama (deep breathing) and dyaan (meditation) – improve mental health. Meditate for at least 15 minutes every day, and combine it with some asanas. And remember, it takes two months of daily practice to change behaviour into habit.

3)      Get good sleep

Practice sleep hygiene to rest the mind and body every day. Insufficient sleep creates a cycle of stress. Children should have at least 10 hours of sleep while adults should sleep 7 to 8 hours every night.

4)      Get regular exercise

People, who exercise regularly, experience fewer mental health issues than those who do not.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous- intensity physical activity daily for children, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity in a week for adults and three days of physical activity a week to enhance balance and prevent falls for older adults with poor mobility.

5)      Avoid Alcohol and Drugs


Alcohol and drug abuse exacerbate mental health issues, creating a negative cycle of dependence. Avoid situations and people associated with drinking cravings; learn to say ‘No’, and don’t give into peer pressure.

6)      Stay socially connected

Spend time with family and friends and volunteer for causes you genuinely care about. Meaningful social connections significantly improve mental health. Keep regular connection with close friends/family. Connect on calls/ video chat if you’re unable to go outside.

7)      Learn new skills

Learning new skills (craft making, drawing, singing, dancing, cooking, coding etc) boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. It provides a sense of purpose which triggers positive emotions in the brain.

8)      Reduce Screen Time/ Exposure to Media

Excessive use of social media leads to stress, anxiety and depression. Exposure to repeated negative content from news and other media, generates negative emotions that adversely affect mental health.

9)      Connect with Nature

Spending time in the natural environment reduces depression and anxiety. Maintaining indoor plants also has a positive impact on mental health. Try to spend at least two hours a week in outdoor green spaces. Create a small green area at home with potted plants.  

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