Stress and other risk factors for mental health are normal in life. But here in the Philippines, things are more complicated especially in the urban and metropolitan area. In many parts of these places, there are loud noises from different sources such as radios and karaoke bars that use very high volume, too much vehicles, pollution, too much people, and the never ending heavy traffic. In addition, there are also many slums and densely populated communities. In short, stress is inevitable for some Filipinos. However, learning these coping mechanisms will lessen the stress and help you avoid depression.
1. Organize your room/house and get things done!
Many of us Filipinos are procrastinators. We locally call it “mañana habit”. But people need to know that this attitude contributes to the accumulation of stress and even frustrations. In many cases, people get frustrated and stressed out because they cannot easily move forward with their short term goals. This will eventually accumulate into psychological problems. Many prominent psychologists such as Jordan Peterson emphasize the importance of cleaning your room, making your bed, and organizing your stuff. According to him, if you have cluttered room, it will affect your mind and your attitude towards other people. Therefore, you will also have disorganized mind. That is why every day you must attend to your chores (ex. dishes, room cleaning, paperwork, assignments, etc.) accordingly for you to avoid unnecessary stress. Seeing cluttered things triggers your feelings of frustrations.
2. Make a calendar of schedules and list down all your priorities/tasks
Many Filipinos like to be spontaneous. They don’t want things to be systematic and they don’t seem to care so much about consistency. But this usually leads to chaotic life and failures. Having a list of things you must do is very helpful in keeping your mind organized and in control. It is universally accepted fact that writing down priorities makes it easier for a person to face and handle their tasks and jobs. Usually, people forget their schedules and priorities especially in these very busy and fast times and it usually leads to mental stress. Having a step by step guide on your responsibilities will help you become more efficient and productive. Through this, you can easily monitor your progress and accomplishments. Therefore, it will make you more confident and capable.
3. Create a “Support System”
Having the right friends and supportive family can help a lot in your mental health. This is one of the most important protective factors everyone should have. Developing a strong social support can help you fight depression as you can count on these people every time that you need help, advice, or just someone to talk to. And lastly, having solid and strong relationships will help you function well as it can provide you with emotional strength and some sort of security. Other examples of this are community support groups, online community, art community, sports community, active musicians (if you are into music), relatives, social clubs, etc. During times of stress and crisis, your personal support system helps you to be strong and resilient.
4. Always have a good sleep
In Manila for example, many workers arrived so late on their home in the evening due to heavy traffic that consumes 3 to 4 hours of their day. Worst is, they have to wake up around 4am just to prepare for work and ride in the traffic again. This kind of lifestyle is very detrimental to our physical and psychological well-being. According to the 2015 study by the Global Burden of Disease, there are 3.3 million Filipinos suffering from major depressive disorders. Many of them often have difficulty in sleeping. That is why it is important to take care of your brain and body by having enough sleep and rest. Your mood, energy level, and your thinking will be affected if you don’t have enough sleep. For you to have a good sleep in the night, you must make sure the food you have eaten for dinner has been totally digested, do not drink caffeinated beverages at night, turn off all your electronic gadgets, do not work on your bed, try to do some meditation, try to read, and just forget about bothering thoughts and relax your body and mind.
5. Manage your stress
Stress is inevitable but knowing how to manage your stress helps you prevent depression because it helps to stop whatever is causing imbalances on your hormones. Although, it needs a lot of practice but learning this can really help in fighting your depression. Some activities that reduce stress are playing musical instruments, doing arts, journaling, being in the ocean or forest or just watching nature documentary films (for places in the Philippines that has a very few preserved green spaces), listening to relaxing music, doing yoga and meditation, doing deep and conscious breathing, having a regular healthy conversation, watching comedies or movies that make you feel good, etc. Stress management is also a way to have control over your body and your physical health.
6. As much as possible, always eat healthy foods
Your diet definitely affects your mental health. If you eat “bad” food, it will negatively affect your body and of course, your brain. Although here in the Philippines, especially if you are from a poor places, it is now hard to find healthy foods that are affordable. If you don’t have enough money, it will be very challenging. But it is doable. In most places, there are still available fruits and vegetables. Healthy diet is very important. Therefore, you must need vitamins and nutrients that are essential for the brain such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other food that has high levels of zinc. Of course, eat these foods with moderation. Also, avoid processed and synthetic food, fast food, and foods that are treated with chemicals and pesticides. You can also take natural food supplements. Improving your diet and nutrition can really prevent depression. In fact, it also helps patients with serious condition such as mental illness in many cases.