TED talks on mental health: How to maintain good mental wellbeing

Stress, burnout and poor mental health are some of the challenges employees – including HR professionals – are faced with as COVID-19 continues to impact all areas of our lives. For remote workers, the blurred lines between home and work, the feeling of needing to work longer, and a lack of social interaction can all have negative effects on mental health.

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While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with news and events outside of our control, here are some actionable tips learnt from inspiring TED talks.

1. Get active

Sometimes the answer to maintaining wellbeing can be simple: a quick workout session. Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki discusses the science of how short but regular exercise can greatly boost mood and memory.

Exercises that get your heart rate up, like a quick ‘power walk’ around your neighbourhood, can be beneficial, not just for your physical but mental health, too. For those that struggle in getting into exercise, Wendy even suggests the minimum time you should exercise to gain long-term benefits!

2. Practice mindfulness

When your daily schedule comprises of an inbox pinging nonstop, the phone ringing, and running through today’s to-do list in your head, when do you have time to just do nothing? Not looking at your phone, not talking, not thinking. Just absolutely nothing.

In a society where busy is the norm, doing nothing can seem like a luxury. But when busyness and a cluttered mind are affecting your health, it might be a ‘luxury’ we must afford. Mindfulness expert and meditation app Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe, says that you don’t need to be a monk to experience the transformative power of practising mindfulness. He suggests taking just 10 minutes a day to do nothing, experiencing the present moment.

3. Prepare for stressful moments

When you’re in a stressful situation, your judgement may become cloudy and you might make rash decisions, invariably adding to further stress later on. According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, it is because your brain releases cortisol during stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking.

Stress, work-related or not, is sometimes unavoidable. So, Daniel suggests creating a system that will help you be more prepared should that stressful situation crop up.

4. Be aware of the words you use

Do you ever get a feeling when you talk to someone, read their comments, emails, etc., that while nothing seems to be out of the ordinary, something still seems a bit off? Reading between the lines can be a simple, but very effective way to help, according to neuroscientist Mariano Sigman when spotting tell-tale signs of ill wellbeing.

In this fascinating talk, Mariano shares a quantitative study on the works of ancient Greek philosophers. He looks at the origins of introspection, and how the words we use give a glimpse into our mental health. So, if you catch yourself or others using negative, self-defeating words, it might be worth checking in to see if everything’s okay.

5. Know when to seek help or advice

When children get hurt or need help, they look towards a reliable adult and ask for support. But growing up, when did we start thinking that not asking for help is a sign of independence and strength?

Former kindergarten teacher, YeYoon Kim, learned from her students that there’s power in asking for support. And more often than not, others are not just willing but happy to lend you a hand.

Whether you’re stressed due to a project, juggling work and parenting responsibilities, or fearing a potential job loss, it’s important to know that you don’t have to deal with everything alone.

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