Dec 13, 2022 15 min read
Love yourself the way you want others to
Abstract: The neglected Child
Talking about mental health has always been a taboo in India. People, in general, are dismissive about mental health of others and of their own for that matter. Mental health has mostly been neglected and trivialized at a cost people in India generally fail to realise.
Shocking facts related to mental health at workplace came to light in survey conducted by Deloitte. Highlights of the same are as follows:
Poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around USD 14 billion annually in absenteeism, lower productivity and attrition.
Around 47 per cent of professionals surveyed consider workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health, followed by financial and COVID-19 challenges.
According to the survey, 80 per cent of the Indian workforce has reported mental health issues during the past one year.
Societal stigma prevents around 39 per cent of the affected respondents from taking steps to manage their symptoms.
The seeping wall
Mental health problems may occur as a result of external factors and the same may multiply and affect physical health and well-being in long run. We can take analogy with an example of a wall having seepage issues. If we paint it or tile it from outside instead of taking care of the root cause, the water will start seeping inside and affecting the foundations in long run. We might think that we can hide the mental health problems but it will make its way out in other forms such as physical health problems, lashing out on others, behavioural distortions, substance abuse, compulsive disorders, perfectionism, work-holism and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Workplace: The Second Home
In a 24-hours day, we spend roughly 10 hours or more on getting ready/ commuting to workplace and in the work place. Assuming a sleep of 8 hours, it would not be wrong to call office a second home when we are spending more than 60% of active hours in a day in office or activities related to office. Consequently workplace may govern majority of factors impacting our mind and behaviour. Certainly, work-force is exposed to all kinds of pressures, deadlines, stress and interactions in the workplace. With this fact, it becomes crucial to create behavioural patterns to cope with contrary environment and incidents occurring at workplaces.
Mental health is the greatest asset for an individual and for the organizations which are driven by these individuals. Organizations can play vital role in enhancing mental well-being by making the employees aware about mental health and motivating them to resort to adequate remedies.
The Key: True Self-Love
“Self-Love” is a term in vogue recently. It has been defined in numerous theories in past. There have been theories where in self-love is regarded as an expression of conceit and selfishness. In recent past, the term “Self-love” has been promoted as a positive trait in wake of mental health issues and is rather described as having adequate self-esteem, not-being self-dismissive and listening to our inner voices. It is needless to mention that mental health problems are the result of coping mechanisms adopted consciously or sub-consciously in response to stress and trauma to manage painful and difficult emotions. This means that ignoring inner voices and self-esteem requirements and not channelizing painful emotions in rightful manner may reflect on mental health. Making sense of self-love in a rightful way and assimilating habits for dealing with negative emotions and circumstances instead channelizing them into unhealthy coping mechanisms may do wonders for mental health.
Some of the ways to adopt healthy thought-patterns and habits good for mental health are as follows:
Acceptance and positive self-talk
The only thing we can control is ourselves and we have no control over external circumstances and other people. Hence, accepting this fact and doing positive self-talk is very important. This may include analysing the situation and the role we can play to overcome it and taking the right action. If we cannot control the situation then this fact must be accepted and positive self-talk must be resorted to process any negative emotions.
Pranayam and Breathing exercise
Pranayam is a method recognised internationally to be beneficial for immediate relief from sudden heightened anxiety. Taking deep breath and imagining that we are expelling the anxiety out of our body provides immediate relief from a non-pathological anxiety.
Talk to someone you feel safe with
Sharing the thoughts and inhibitions is an important way to vent out negative emotions. Feeling any kind of negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, fear, and rage is being human. Sometimes we think them as negative and refrain from sharing these with anybody. But rather, sharing any kind of emotions with someone you trust will help in self-realization and processing that negative emotion in a better way rather than letting it sit somewhere in your sub-conscious brain and bother you later on.
Peaceful walk and meditation
When our mind and body are exposed to stressful environment, our brain releases stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline etc. to cope with that situation. No human body is made to survive in situation of chronic stress and inordinate exposure to these stress hormones results in gradual deterioration of mental and physical health. Meditation or peaceful walk helps in calming the body by generating happiness hormones.
Nature and Sunlight
Spending time with nature and sunlight has dramatic effect on mind and body. Half-an-hour in sunlight and nature daily can help in elevating mood. Morning sunlight helps in generating Vitamin D which counters conditions like depressed mood and anxiety.
Enough sleep and music
Lack of sleep aggravates anxiety and mental exhaustion. Hence, sleep must not be compromised and in case of difficulty sleeping, drinking calming drinks such as Chamomile tea and performing “Yoga-Nidra” meditation may help. Listening to music helps in generating happiness hormones which will help in calming the effects of stressful environment.
Travel and technology detox
Excessive use of mobile phones and laptops creates brain-fogging effects. Reducing screen time consciously will save a lot of time and bring clarity and mindfulness. Besides, it is said that travel is food for soul and travelling can bring a drastic freshness in stressful situations. Sudden travelling in stressful situation could prove to be a healthy escape or coping mechanism.
Including healthy food in daily diet which is rich in vitamins and minerals can have direct impact on mental health. Again there is no need of paradigm shift in diet which often ends up in vain. Making small changes such as cutting added sugar, having a single healthy meal, consuming healthy fats instead of unhealthy fats can help in long run. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals will help in calming the impact of stressful environment.
Pursuing a hobby or indulgence
Pursuing long forgotten hobbies or a new hobby may have calming effects. Occasionally availing therapeutic treatments such as a head massage or visiting salon can relax nervous system. This also helps in developing a sense that true happiness is not tied just with activities which result in achievement of materialistic achievements but also with leisure activities. Being a high performer may prove exhausting in long run.
Family and pets
Spending time with family and pets has therapeutic effects on mind. It helps in reducing anxiety, stress and anxiousness. It also helps in building positive emotions such as trust, gratitude and compassion.
Last but the most important, is connecting with a professional therapist. These days when people are getting aware about mental health, there has been enhancement in availability of psychologist and therapist. They are not solely available for recommending medications but also for alternative therapies such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma-recovery programmes etc. Therapists provide proper guidance if we don’t have any one to listen or we are unable to express ourselves completely to friends and family. No matter how much mature we become, there may be times when we might need advice in our weak moments. Therapies are available as easily as online and over chat. Hence, turning to a therapist should no longer be viewed as a taboo and therapies could be resorted to more often than not.
Ignoring our own feelings and requirements of our inner-being is the grimmest form of lack of self-love. Our body and mind have their own way of reflecting their requirement in form of mental and physical disorientation. All the lifestyle disorders such as anxiety, blood pressure, diabetes etc. are results of chronic exposure to stressful environment, overthinking patterns and trauma. Hence, providing our body, mind and soul the things which are nourishing would help in overcoming any dysfunction, be it mental or physical. For adopting a healthy life style, it is not necessary to make radical changes in life. In fact adopting any kind of healthy habit slowly one by one can do wonders. Say, instead of going to gym for rigorous exercise, taking 15 minutes of walk and 15 minutes of meditation can change the game. After all, you definitely deserve your own time and attention.
Statistics on problems associated with mental health issues in India: https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/poor-mental-health-of-employees-costs-indian-firms-14-bn-yearly-survey-122090800661_1.html#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20survey%2C%2080,steps%20to%20manage%20their%20symptoms.
Meaning of Self-Love: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-love
Impact of stress on mind and body: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
Activities for generating happy-hormones: https://www.healthline.com/health/happy-hormone#music
Coping mechanism: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/coping-mechanisms
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