Dr. Rijusmita Sarma
(The writer is a counselling psychologist.
Can be reached at 8638716076
Mental health is one of the biggest assets for any human being, as this asset can prove to be a pivotal determinant of the quality of life of a person. It is one of the core aspects of health, as per the definition of health by the World Health Organisation (WHO). But often in the hustle and bustle of everyday life we tend to take less or at times no care of our mental health. But I invite you to think that, if we take care of our mental health, which will help us invest our time and energy in goal-oriented or life-enhancing activities, aren’t there higher chances of us moving closer towards our goals and enriching our quality of life?
So, today I would like to discuss certain strategies we can adopt in our everyday lives, which can help preserve and enhance our mental health.
l Engaging in some form of physical activity can help us take care of our mental health. Research suggests that physical activity can boost the production of feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins.
l Gratitude Journaling can help us shift our focus on the pleasant things around us, especially during times when we tend to ruminate over the things we do not have or aren’t happy about. Also writing about our accomplishments throughout the day can contribute to building confidence.
l Practicing radical acceptance (accepting reality as it is). Wenn Reality doesn’t turn out to be the way we want to, we tend to ask ourselves questions, which often do not have concrete answers. For e.g. why did this happen?” This can fuel anger and a sense of helplessness, leading us to nowhere but a state of rumination. Instead, if we accept (not always) reality as it is, we can find ways to deal with it by asking ourselves, “What can be done now?”
l According to cognitive therapies, our thoughts are the primary determinants of our emotional and behavioural responses. Hence, being mindful of our thoughts and being open to modifications regarding them are important for managing our emotions and behaviour.
l We often make assumptions and believe in them without checking for evidence. This might give us distorted information about reality, affecting our emotions and behaviour. Hence, we need to understand that thoughts are not facts.
l Making relaxation activities a part of our lives is crucial to recharge. We can take the help of professionals or guided meditation apps to do it.
l We often tend to remain wound up in dissecting and making futile attempts to change things, which are not under our control. Instead, focusing on things, which are under our control, can lead to a sense of productivity and wellbeing.
l We usually tend to segregate our emotions in positive and negative. We are conditioned in a way that experiencing negative emotions is wrong or is considered to be a sign of weakness. But in reality, experiencing negative emotions is a sign of being human. So instead of trying to fight away our negative emotions and putting them under the carpet, till they stink, accepting them as they are and processing them leads us to better outcomes: We need to remind ourselves that all feelings are valid. Being judgmental toward our emotions jeopardizes our ability to deal with them.
l Being a student forever is a good idea. Research suggests that learning a new skill improves our brain health by bringing helpful changes in the brain structure. It also brings a sense of accomplishment and boosts confidence. Studies also prove that new skills learning can help reduce signs of anxiety and depression.
l The famous study on human happiness concluded that fulfilling relationships contribute immensely to happiness. So, nurturing our relationships can contribute to our mental well-being.
l Once in a while sharing our hearts out in front of someone we are comfortable with can work wonders. It is not only cathartic, but also can throw light at different perspectives for us to consider. It can help us think differently and clearly, which can be extremely helpful at times when we feel cluttered in our minds.
l Maintaining a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep are important for our mental health.
l Often burnout due to excessive work is complained about, but at the same time also flaunted as a badge of pride. The smarter way of working is by taking frequent breaks, which not only prevents burnout, but has also proven to increase productivity.
l Kindness is not only the right thing to do and it doesn’t only benefit the person at the receiving end. It also helps the person practicing kindness. A study conducted in California among college students reported that even small acts of kindness performed by the students led to increased optimism and life satisfaction in them. Research says that practicing kindness decreases cortisol in our body, thus reducing our stress levels.
l Engaging in hobbies gives us an opportunity to break the monotony and get involved in something creative. This can help us relax and improve our mood.
We all have heard of the saying that we cannot pour from an empty cup. So, to be in a state of well-being and be a contributing member to our lives, work and relationships, replenishing ourselves, is inevitable. Therefore, for a fulfilling life taking care of our mental health isn’t a choice, but a necessity. Also, we do not have to make huge changes all at once. One step at a time can also yield satisfying results. Remembering William Henry Davies’s words, in a life full of care, let’s find some time to stand and stare. Take care!