Little Ways To Elevate Mental Health
Every year, October 10th is celebrated as Mental Health Day. This year however, the dialogue around mental wellness is more relevant and vital than ever before. Earlier in 2020, I had completed two courses with the Harvard Medical School – one of these was on mental health, the second pandemic that ensued in the wake of COVID 19.
It wasn’t enough to just learn. I also wanted to share my learnings with the world. Therefore, since April, I have had the responsibility and privilege of conducting mental health webinars for a wide cross-section of groups. One of my most satisfying sessions was with the Indian Air Force officers’ wives, where 1,300 ladies were addressed pan-India, over a series of six webinars, discussing and addressing mental health. Another interactive online session close to my heart was conducted by the WCC (Women’s Christian College), where over 900 students benefited. Here are some brief takeaways from all those multiple sessions, which you can practice and implement on your own, to elevate mental health!
Mental Health: Self-Esteem Is Fundamental
Self-love or self-confidence is very important. You’re not born to be the perfect woman you see in the television advertisement – who looks like a million bucks, is juggling her job and kids with panache, and has life seemingly sorted! When you look at her, you’re already falling short. So no matter how hard you try, you’re not happy. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. It’s alright not to be a perfectionist, if your life is not always under control, or if you feel broken on a particular day. There is a force much greater than yourself, guiding you. I believe in loving myself, without being narcissistic, and not letting negativity or negative emotions affect me. Keep a pristine corner or space for yourself, which you guard fiercely – whether it is time spent on meditation, or a spiritual connection, or the pursuit of a hobby like painting or writing. Remember, you must put on your oxygen mask first, before you help others.
Mental Health: Find Your Purpose
It is very important to set a goal for yourself and keep dreaming and working towards it. Even if you have to make sacrifices, find your purpose. My purpose has been different at different stages of my life – first education, then family, then career and so on. Be inspiring and be passionate about what you do. Even something as small as my daughter holding my hand and saying that she finds me inspirational, is very rewarding. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” These are words I believe everyone should live by.
Mental Health: Spend Time With Your Children
As I mentioned earlier, the second big pandemic is mental depression. While we are limping back to normalcy after the lockdown, the COVID 19 virus is nowhere under control, and children are still away from school, distancing from their peers and friends. For parents too, this is a challenging time, as they’re puzzled, harassed, working from home, trying to meet deadlines, and are often low on energy, patience and time. Observing all of this can have an adverse effect on children. What’s more, with online education hinging on the use of laptops, iPads and mobile phones, one is yet to determine the long-term repercussions of this whole shift. Invest in your child’s health if you can. Be mindful of behavioural symptoms and signs that he or she is facing any mental health issues. Spend time with your child, and make it a point to bond on a regular basis, keeping lines of communication open.
Mental Health: Accept Your Situation
In an ECG graph, the ups and downs are representative of life – while a flat line is not. Life is full of ups and downs, and this is what makes it an interesting and enriching experience. You may not be able to control or change the situations you find yourself in. What you can control is how you react – changing your attitude, accepting circumstances, and making choices that are right for you. Create your own space of happiness, goals and purpose, within the limitations of what life throws at you.
Mental Health: Find Ways To Motivate Yourself
When you can’t go outside, go inside. Easier said than done, but keep reminding yourself that setbacks are temporary phases, which will pass. Find out how to tap into your inner resilience. Even if you’re high-strung, try and get in 6-7 hours of sleep, which will ensure you feel physically and mentally better the next day. Build on your aspirations. You’ll be surprised, how the world comes around to help you. I had the privilege of moderating an online session with the inspirational Colonel Suresh Kumar Sharma, who – along with his family – beat the COVID 19 virus. His words of advice to get through this trying time include ‘staying mentally sturdy’, ‘not panicking’, and ‘being supportive towards people who have tested positive for the virus’. Although he was worried when he tested positive, because he heard how badly people had been treated within their building societies, he was appreciative that his own society was extremely supportive.
Mental Health: Exercise
Exercise helps in bringing out feel-good happiness hormones like serotonins and endorphins. Working out for 40 minutes every day, or even 4-5 times a week leaves you feeling energised and happier.
Mental Health: Connect With People Who Make You Feel Good
This is underrated, but so important! Connect with people who make you feel good about yourself, about your life and your surroundings. This doesn’t necessarily imply that people who are close friends, or who are related to you will fit the bill. Instead, focus on people who are non-judgmental, caring and make you feel like the best version of yourself. This is especially significant if you have a sensitive and fragile mindset.