Let’s Talk Mental Health

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By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO :

A couple of years back, things were happening in life that made me feel sad and anxious all the time. I felt hopeless. I knew I was drowning but I could not save myself initially. I learned to snap out of that weird heavy feeling, with time. I always feel I am one of the lucky ones, I understood things early and responded quickly. I did not have those people in life who understood my ‘forever smiling face’ who experienced any sort of depression or even wanted to talk about it but at the same time, my theory of ‘ time and love heals everything’ helped me keep my head above water during my darkest days. So many people live with mental illness their entire lives with the varying success of treatment and little or no support.

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Your mental health influences your thoughts, feelings, and behavior in daily life. It also affects your understanding to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and the ‘bad days’. Many things can influence a person’s mental health and it can be treated in many different ways. In 2018, India was classified as the most depressed country in the world. Today, it is important to talk about mental health in India and around the world because talking about mental health advances awareness, lowers the stigma, and inspires others to seek treatment for their own potential mental health issues.

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An absence of mental health problems isn’t just what strong mental health is about. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, for the next 10 seconds, I would shift your focus on how mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Mentally healthy people have a sense of contentment, happiness for living, and the ability to laugh and have fun. They can deal with stress and bounce back from difficulty. A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships, can also be seen. Mentally healthy people have the flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change and my personal favorite, the ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships parallel to having self-confidence and high self-esteem.

 

Picture Credits : New Roads Behavioral Health

Now, we all go through bad times, experience emotional problems, disappointments, loss, and change in life. Having solid mental health doesn’t mean that you don’t experience them. As a cause, we often suffer from sadness, anxiety, and stress. It is natural. It happens. But you can always choose to have strong mental health. I believe it’s your decision. People with strong mental health can bounce back from adversity, trauma, or stress just like how physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from an injury or illness. This ability is called resilience or sometimes, ‘being flexible’. People who are emotionally and mentally flexible have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused and productive. They are also less afraid of new experiences or an uncertain future. So, even when they don’t immediately know how a problem will get resolved, they are hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.If something happens to us or life goes wrong, not how we imagined, not how we wanted it to be and we get all the emotional messages telling us about it, we try to tough it out by distractions like self-medicating, with alcohol and drugs or even self-destructive behavior. We shut our problems and we hope that others won’t notice. We assume that our situation will improve on its own and mostly we simply give up—saying “this is just the way we are.”

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The happy news is: you don’t have to feel bad. I know what you are thinking, it isn’t that easy for real! But yes, it is. There are practices you can embrace to elevate your mood, become more resilient, and enjoy your life, you only live once. But it requires effort to build your mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being.

           

       Here are some tips to boost your mental health by Mental Health America.

 

  1. Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.
  2. Work your strengths. Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.
  3. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of   something in your life you want to improve and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.
  4. Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality, relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.
  5. Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.
  6. Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.
  7. Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).
  8. Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental         efficiency.
  9. Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.
  10. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” – Henry David Thoreau. Practice mindfulness by staying “in the present.”
  11. Practice forgiveness – even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.
  12. Feeling stressed? Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.
  13. Send a thank you note – not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.
  14. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein. Try something outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.
  15.  Spend some time with a furry friendTime with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol, and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness.

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If  you know people with depression, anxiety or any mental illness you need to hear, support and love them. We all need each other. Even on the days when it is impossible to accept love, we do need it. No one should fight this battle alone. We will all be all right. Gather your energy and jump into the positive vibes , the key is to snap out of that uneasy feeling, channel your energy the right way, to live a calm and happy life, all because you deserve it.

Compiled and curated by Maham Abbasi

Maham Abbasi

Maham Abbasi is a graduate of, The University of Delhi, (Jesus and Mary College) currently pursuing  Masters in Women’s Studies from, The Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, working and writing extensively for women’s rights and issues.

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