Maintaining sound mental health with tension relief

The mind and body depend on each other. Just as individuals perform daily maintenance routines for physical health like showering, dental care and exercise, people can do the same self-care practices for mental wellness.

A good cry can relieve stress and tension. In England, Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, did some research into the subject of crying for better mental health. He found that, despite the old adage of keeping “a stiff upper lip,” suppressing emotion works against the average individual. There was a generational response, roughly 25 percent of people aged 18 to 34 said they thought showing emotion was a sign of weakness compared with only 1 in 10 over the age of 55.

Laughter is cathartic in the same way, releasing tension, increasing circulation and causing the release of endorphins in the brain which produces a feeling of wellbeing. A good laugh with friends is a real pick-me-up. It is the emotional part of life that connects people with each other, watching military families (or any family) reunite at international airports can bring a tear to the eye and who can resist smiling watching a litter of puppies tumbling over each other?

Researchers say a person can even pretend to smile to elicit the emotion of happiness. PBS highlighted a study in which subjects were asked to hold a felt-tip marker in their mouths in a manner that caused facial muscles to form a smile or a frown. While continuing to hold the marker they were asked to look at comic strips and say how funny they found them to be. The subjects whose faces were mimicking a smile found the comics funnier than the subjects whose faces were set in a frown.

Getting together with friends is one of the joys of life, whether it’s a barbecue, a coffee shop or just a visit at home; exchanging news, stories and having a good laugh is restorative. If something has gone wrong in life or a problem has popped up, there’s no one like a good friend to share it with and get some empathy and advice in return.

Be preemptive about maintaining mental health and take part in life. If a mental health problem should arise, see a mental health professional as soon as possible to get things back on track. If you or a loved one needs information or has questions regarding any mental health problem please call the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline for assistance.