Over the years positive psychology has placed strong emphasis on how positive affect can improve health. This prompted Vista Clinic to develop the Happiness HELPS campaign as a means of improving positive affect in patients. The aim of the campaign is to promote mental health and to reduce the symptoms of depression. The Happiness HELPS concept consists of a set of practical actions that can be carried out on a daily basis in order to combat the negative emotional affects of depression and anxiety.
The acronym “HELPS” provides an easy-to-follow guide which can be used by everyone to promote and maintain their mental health.
HELPS stands for:
Help others e.g do random acts of kindness for others
Exercise e.g take the stairs instead of the lift
Learn e.g Learn to say hello in a different language
Play e.g sign aloud along with the music
Spiritual growth e.g. read your bible, pray.
“Happiness HELPS .. to liven up our lives and prevent mental illness. Happiness can be created by doing. Helping others, exercising, learning something new, playing and spiritual growth are activities that create happiness”.
– Dr Jerrie Bezuidenhout, Psychiatrist & Director Medical Services – Vista Clinic
It’s often said that it’s better to give than to receive. It’s no secret that doing something nice for others makes you feel better about yourself and the world. In healing others, you heal yourself. During the first few weeks of our campaign, the different departments of Vista Clinic embraced this theme by helping others in many ways, such as helping them to appreciate the things they take for granted. We have so many things to be grateful for. When we help others who have less than us, we then see how much we truly have.
After helping others we moved over to the more active side of the campaign. However, this may not mean what you think it does. Many believe exercise is only a physical thing, but it is not. Physical exercise is important, but we also need to exercise other aspects of our lives, such as using less technology. Instead of sending an SMS or e-mail, rather communicate face-to-face.
Learning something new every day is important, as it keeps the brain active. A positively engaged mind promotes a positive mood. Engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as Sudoku or word puzzles. In keeping with this theme, some of the Vista staff even learnt how to say “hello” in all 11 official languages.
This particular theme proved to be more of a challenge than we anticipated. After all, how do we play at work? We have to make time to play and to have fun in order to live balanced lives. Incorporate playful aspects into your everyday activities, such as using your waste bin as a basketball net, or arranging your drawing pins in a fun pattern. Whatever you choose to do, just remember the famous words of George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
Vista Clinic supports the notion that human beings have an inherently spiritual element within them which needs to be nurtured in order to achieve optimal mental health. To celebrate the launch of the final happiness HELPS factor, Vista Clinic hosted a week of spiritual emphasis, during which well-known speaker and author Pastor Hein von Hörsten gave daily inspirational sermons to the staff of Vista Clinic. How can you grow spiritually? “Keep a journal of all the blessings you receive each day – the big ones, and especially the little ones” – Psalm 103:1-2