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Mental Wellness in Women

Mental wellbeing is the key to a good life and health in all the stages of womanhood. In addition to managing stress well and taking care of our health through good nutrition and exercise, and avoiding smoking and drinking, there are a few particularly helpful areas that women can focus on at different ages to improve their mental wellness.

Young adults (18-24 years old)

With the onset of menstrual cycles, common premenstrual symptoms include mood fluctuations and physical changes such as breast tenderness, weight gain and abdominal bloating in the week prior to menses.

For some women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder(PMDD)[1], these symptoms can be more severe and debilitating, with intense emotionality and irritability causing distress or affecting their functioning. Reducing your salt intake, exercising, getting adequate sleep and practising deep breathing exercises will help to reduce these symptoms. Medical treatment is available for those with PMDD[2].

For women, reaching out to others when we face challenges can help to alleviate the loneliness of struggling on our own. Talk to your friends or family when you are troubled, or consider self-help tools that can provide a guide to help you through a difficult period.

Take Charge 

Tips for 18-24 years old

  • Manage premenstrual mood and physical symptoms with exercise, sleep, salt restriction, and calm breathing.
  • Reach out to others for support.
  • Consider self-help tools for mental health:

The Middle Years (25 to 49 years old)

These are the challenging years when women build a career or find a life partner, and in time care for their own children, or ageing parents. Indeed, juggling the demands of work and family can be very stressful. Do remember to care of yourself by making time for exercise[3] or your hobbies[4].

Sleep is essential - an adult needs an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day[5]. Disconnect from electronic devices (mobile phones, laptops) half an hour before bedtime. Getting into a regular sleep schedule and practising a relaxing activity to wind down before bedtime makes it easier to fall asleep. Maintaining a positive perspective on life challenges can also be helpful in coping with life challenges, and allow us to end the day with a peaceful mind[6].

Pregnancy and motherhood can also bring on challenges that may lead to perinatal depression or anxiety, wherein women experience low mood or loss of interest for two weeks of longer, or have excessive worries that cause distress[7]. Getting help early is important as your baby needs you to keep in good mental health to nurture him/her.

There may be minor mood changes during the peri-menopausal period but if your low mood or anxiety is sustained for more than two weeks, please consult a doctor as you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression or anxiety[8].

Take Charge 

Tips for 25 to 49 years old

  • Self-care with exercise or hobbies to de-stress from juggling demands.
  • Adequate and regular sleep of 7 to 9 hours, with relaxing activity (no devices) before bedtime.
  • Practice positive thinking and gratefulness.
  • Be mindful of challenging periods of transition – pregnancy, motherhood and the perimenopausal period.
  • See a doctor if you have low mood or anxiety that lasts longer than two weeks.

The Later Years (50 years old and above)

Research conducted amongst local older adults has shed light on the importance of maintaining social connectedness along with adapting to changes in life and health[9]. Making an effort to connect with your friends, or participating in community programs can help to uplift spirits as helping others can be meaningful.

As you age, your mobility and coordination may slow – so even as you continue to exercise to maintain your physical health, it is important to acknowledge the changes in your health. Be kind to yourself and focus on what you can do.

Take Charge 

Tips for 50 years old and above

  • Acknowledge changes in your health, be kind to yourself.
  • Stay connected, and reach out to others.


1. Pearlstein T, Steiner M 2008. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: burden of illness and treatment update. J Psychiatry Neurosci Jul; 33(4): 291-301


3. Sharon-David H, Tenenbaum G (2017). The effectiveness of exercise interventions on coping with stress: research synthesis. Studies in Sport Humanities 22:19-29

4. Pressman SD. Matthews KA, Cohen S, Martire LM, Scheier M, Baum A, Schulz R (2009) Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities with Psychological and Physical Well-being

5. Blackwelder A, Hoskins M, Huber L (2021). Effect of inadequate sleep on frequent mental distress. Prev Chronic Dis 18:200573,

6. Boiler L, Haverman M, Westerhof GJ, Riper H, Smit F, Bohlmeijer E (2013) Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMB Public Health 13:119; doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-119



9. Shiraz F, Hildon ZLJ, Vrijhoef HJM (2020). Exploring the perceptions of the ageing experience in Singaporean older adults : a qualitative study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. 35:389-408