Personal Strategies to Improve Well-being-CALM ki baaten
Title: Personal Strategies to Improve Well-being-CALM ki baaten
Purpose: To attain a state of social, physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Methodology: To improve well-being by living a calm life. For having calm in life, we need to understand and adopt CALM, which represents the need to Connect, to be Active, to keep on Learning and be Mindful.
Analysis: All human beings derive energy i.e. capacity to work from four main dimensions- Social Connections, Physical Activities, Lifelong Learnings and Mindfulness. “C”- the first letter of CALM, reminds to connect to all and make life meaningful. “A” - the second letter of CALM, inspires to be active and to keep ourselves healthy. “L”- the third letter of CALM, motivates to keep on learning and grow in life. “M” - the fourth letter of CALM guides to be mindful and live in the present moment.
Conclusions and Implications: Connection with others make us feel secured, supported and valued. Physical Activity increases capacity to improve the functioning of body. Learning is about gaining new knowledge, developing new skills and having new experiences that enrich our lives and is vital for mental wellbeing. Learning feeds curiosity and keeps the mind active and engaged, keeps us updated and helps us cope up with the change. Mindfulness helps us being present and stay cognizant of where we are and what we are doing without being overly reactive or overwhelmed. It nurtures our ability to recall dispersed mind to a wholeness with which we can live fully every moment of our lives.
With this holistic approach for Social, Physical, Mental and Spiritual well-being, we can aim to attain CALM and thus happiness and well-being in life. Calm ki baaten - are harbingers of well-being, calm and
I still remember the day…..it was 3rd Feb, 2020 when I reached Karjat to attend my first basic lab organized by ISABS. Being in the lab was quite a different experience for me. This space provided me a unique opportunity to know my own feelings. One of the insights, I got during the lab was that being physically fit is not enough for one’s well-being. Our thoughts and feelings also play an important role in our well-being.
Shortly after the lab, I went to Lucknow for some official work. When I checked in my hotel, receptionist at the counter asked me whether I have travelled to china in last one month. I was a bit surprised but then she told me about Covid 19 and asked me to sign on the declaration as a part of hotel’s policy. When I entered in my room, somehow, my mind started thinking about the virus only because I was alone and there was nothing much to do. As I am an asthmatic patient, I could not sleep properly and a “fear of unknown” ingrained very deeply in me. I realized that I was not at ease at all.
After coming back to Mumbai, I cancelled my long awaited trip to Mathura and Vrindavan to celebrate Holi festival from 7th March to 15th March because of fear as Covid 19 reared its head in India. 16th March onwards, I was travelling to office with a full coverage of face, which was of course very suffocating for me so I applied for a long leave to avoid travelling to office. I was very well aware that
my job profile does not require my physical presence and my work can be done from home so I requested for my leave with a promise that I will do work too from home. But this idea was too new to get accepted in my organization. I had no choice but to live with my fear. From March 23rd, 2020 onwards, we all got WFH. Though we were allowed to work from home, my fear was far from over as Covid 19 cases increased multifold in India and around the world. We were isolated and confined to our homes with limited resources. Social lives became a thing of past, outdoor physical activities came to a halt and my mind went into upheaval never seen before.
All this forced me to think and find ways to achieve calm in the chaos. Through my interactions with my family, colleagues, friends and relatives and experiences of lock down, I came to the conclusion that a properly balanced all dimensional well-being is the key to have a calm life. And I created my own framework of well-being named CALM ki baaten, which helped me not only to understand but practice all dimensions of well-being.
Most of us feel that achieving success, being better than the rest, and aspiring to do what nobody has done before – these are the things that we all must strive for. We usually dream of a happy life, full of personal and professional recognition, of great luxuries that we can afford and often believe that life has to be this way only. We are so obsessed with getting what we want or what is expected of us that we forget many things that are along the way. In this quest, sometimes we forget our personal relationships, neglect our physical health, get mentally affected and often we disregard our spiritual side also.
“CALM ki baaten” is a strategy to achieve calm in life through holistic well-being. Over the years of my experiences in personal and professional life, I have developed this unique, self-sustaining approach, which helps me to live with calm in chaos. This is my personal strategy, which I have embraced to improve my own well-being.
By understanding the importance of what four letters of CALM represent and by embracing that in my life, I am better equipped to manage the complexities of life, which arise anytime. The two most essential pillars to understand calm ki baaten are “self-love” and “self-responsibility”, which means loving and caring for all the aspects of self and taking responsibility for our physical health and managing our own thoughts, behaviour and emotions. CALM ki baaten is an effort to let people know that we all can aim to attain CALM in life by Social, Physical, Mental and Spiritual well-being,
The World Health Organization (WHO) also defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This is consistent with the biopsychosocial model of health conceptualized by George Engel in 1977, which depicts the interactions of Bio (physiological), Psycho (thoughts, emotions and behaviour) and Social (socio-environmental and cultural) factors in determining the health outcome.
There are several theories of well-being such as Hedonism, Eudaimonism, Desire Satisfaction Theory, Objective List Theory, Value Fulfillment Theory, Self-determination Theory, Subjective Well-being Theory, PERMA etc. but they all define well-being in terms of our actual psychological states and do neglect physical health. Through Calm ki baaten, I have shared my findings that well-being is the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of complete health, which extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony. These dimensions are:
Social: Connecting with, interacting with, and contributing to other people for social well-being.
Physical: Having a healthy body by doing physical activities for physical well-being.
Mental: Engagement with the world through continuous learning for mental well-being.
Spiritual: Searching for meaning and purpose in human existence for spiritual well-being.
Interestingly, the word CALM itself provided me the roadmap to the calm in life, which talks about four key dimensions to improve our well-being and live a calm life. These dimensions are key skills for adaptive and positive behaviour that enabled me deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. They also helped me become more active and productive human being.
Each letter of the word CALM is important and signifies one of the four dimensions of well-being.
“C” reminds me to connect to others and make my life peaceful. The man, having natural human need to belong, cannot survive without connections. To connect is important for our social well-being.
“A” inspires me to be active and to keep myself physically healthy. By being active, we may decrease the risk of diseases. Activity is important for our physical well-being.
“L” motivates me to keep on learning and grow in life. Staying updated to cope up with the change is essential for our survival. Learning is important for our mental well-being.
“M” guides me to be mindful and live in the present moment. Mindfulness helps me stay conscious of where I am and what I am doing without being overly reactive or overwhelmed. Mindfulness is important for our spiritual well-being.
Scientific research and thousands of years of human experience back the importance of these four dimensions of well-being. These dimensions lead us towards achieving a Healthy and CALM life. I derive energy and peace from my Social Connections, Physical Activities, Life-long learning and Mindfulness.
Let us explore all four dimensions of personal well-being in detail:
C, the first letter of CALM, stands for connection - the act or state of connecting, association and relationship. It is the first dimension to improve my personal well-being. By connecting with others, I have been able to make my life much more meaningful.
When COVID first hit, I realized the importance of connect with people around me- my own family members staying together 24/7 and ready to support, my friends staying away but always keeping in touch with me, all my office colleagues who have been very supportive during work from home situation, my close relatives enquiring about my well-being, my neighbors who have always been helpful during the crisis, my security guard for arranging grocery, my milk delivery man, my driver who has dropped me to office as and when required.
When I think of these social connections, I realize how important these connections are in my life and how they have strengthened me every day. Developing close relationships with them has been very important for my well-being. Physical isolation does not have to result in social isolation. Finding time in each day to share with others in family or with close ones via phone, text, video call has been beneficial for my personal well-being.
Connection means to be close to others and share their happiness, grief, concerns, hopes, ups and downs of life. It is also the experience of feeling loved, cared for, and valued. Good connections have always given me an opportunity to share my positive experiences with others and provided me emotional support. To connect with others is like an energy exchange that has the power to deepen the moment and build trust with each other.
Sometimes connecting with people’s pain leaves me feeling challenged and exhausted and sometimes too many contacts make me feel not properly connected to anyone but by making choices and consciously attending to the connections I make, I become more in control of my life. I seek out positive connections to balance time spent with suffering of others.
Having other peoples in our lives matters to our quality of social well-being at every stage of life. Human beings are social animals. We do need to connect with others in order to address or satisfy some of our physical, psychological and social needs. We thrive in groups, which provide us with an important part of our identity, and teach us a set of skills that help us to live our lives.
We all need to experience a deep connection between two people like two friends, loving partners, or family members where both feel loved, listened to, and understood and each individual is able to be entirely be present in the moment when spending time with one another. We also need a feeling of belonging to a social group like group of close friends, a tight-knit group of colleagues, or a religious circle, which provide us support and guidance whenever required. Feeling socially connected is very important for our survival.
I have been able to connect with others by simply listening to them. By paying attention to what others are saying and understanding them creates a strong bond. I try to be present, if I really want to connect with people and make them feel comfortable. I also show that I have been listening by giving sincere compliments or advice.
One other way is to find some micro-moments in my life is by attending to people who are close to me. They may be my friends, family members, office colleagues or people that I care for. I just make some more regular connections with them via text or phone call. I always try to have my meals either with family at home or with colleagues at office. I tell stories/jokes/ share my experiences/spend quality and fun time with my near and dear ones. I also try to make new social connections by making a smile, an eye contact or simply say “Hi” or “Hello”. All these are simple tips for making relationships.
I have created some meaningful connections, by appreciating the similarities and respecting the differences with others. There will always be differences between human beings. Being able to deal with differences is the key. Instead of tolerating, I develop an interest or curiosity towards traits that are new or different from my own. I appreciate and recognize the differences and manage them effectively.
Volunteering for a cause like teaching to underprivileged children has also been a way to connect with others and boost my happiness by providing a sense of purpose to my being.
Research has shown that social connections not only impact our mental health, but our physical health as well. A review of 148 studies (308,849 participants) indicated that the individuals with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival.
Dr. Chris Peterson- a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan- summed up his research on positive psychology in just three words- Other People Matter.
Emma Seppala of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of the 2016 book “The Happiness Track,” wrote, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.
Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work, specializes in social connection, said in an interview “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to.” We may think we want money, power, fame, beauty, eternal youth or a new car, but at the root of most of these desires is a need to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others and to be loved.
According to Matthew Lieberman a professor at UCLA, the importance of social connection is so strong that when we are rejected or experience other social pain, our brains "hurt" in the same way they do when we feel physical pain. "Social and physical pain are more similar than we imagine"
In today’s increasingly isolated world, it is very crucial to form healthy relationships and establish deeper connections with those around us. Developing close relationships and socializing with friends, family and others, is important for good health and wellbeing. With hearty connections, I have been able to maintain my social well-being. I have developed the ability to communicate with compassion, cultivate meaningful relationships with others, and maintain a support network that helps overcome my loneliness.
For me simplest mantra to connect is
Listen More, Judge Less
A, the second letter of CALM, stands for Activity - the state or quality of being active. It is the second dimension to improve my personal well-being. By being active, I am able to make my body much healthier. Activity encompasses all intentional movements that burn calories. It can be quite light movement, like just walking around a little bit in my office or at home. It can be moderate activity like yoga or stretching or can be quite vigorous activity like running or playing sports. To be active is to indulge in any kind of physical activity on a regular basis. By being active, I am able to maintain my physical well-being.
This letter of CALM always reminds me that physical well-being is not just the absence of disease but it includes all healthy lifestyle behavior choices. With physical activity, I avoid preventable diseases and live in a fit body.
Any movement of the body is good for our health. Our bodies are built to move. We all need to keep our body active. Being active is important for good health at all ages. Scientifically it has been proved that fitting more and more activities in one's daily schedule not only improves health but also enhances the quality of life. Physical activity affects our mood positively. It helps prevent and reduce depression, anxiety and stress. It also helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure. Physical activity reduces rates of cardiovascular disease and decreases the risk of getting some cancers. It strengthens our heart, lungs, bones and muscles for increased energy and strength.
By moving more and avoiding sedentary lifestyle, I have increased my physical activity as much as I can. I have minimized the time spent sitting each day by moving around in the office every hour, which has made me more energetic. I usually go to my colleague at their desk and talk to them as far as possible rather than emailing or phoning them.
Walking is one of the most straightforward activity for anyone of us. I try to stand up and walk around throughout the day as much as possible. I attend almost every phone call while walking only. Regular stretching is also very effective for body movements. It offers the best benefits as we age and keep our body parts flexible like shoulder, neck, back, knees etc. I do this stretching after every half an hour. Push-ups have long been the symbol of optimal fitness. Push-ups can be done by anyone anytime.
Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running or an equivalent mix of both every week. I spend minimum 30 minutes daily on my physical activity and more is always better. It is also fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes.
I also try to do strength training that works on all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week. Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which body weight furnishes the resistance.
Jogging, running, cycling, swimming, gardening, gym, yoga, all sports are good as long as we keep moving. We can mix and match all physical activities to suit our health, abilities, personal preferences, and daily schedules.
A study published on March 7, 2017, in Cell Metabolism found that people aged 65 to 80 years who did interval training, including walking workouts, reversed age-related deterioration of muscle cells and improved muscle power.
Even just a little activity — both at home and at work — may reduce risk of hospitalization, suggests a long-term observational study published May 6, 2020, in BMC Geriatrics. Also, people who were inactive or became inactive during the study had the highest risk of being hospitalized. The take-home message: Stay as active as you can, whether it is a brisk walk most days of the week or just vigorous housework. Even a little activity protects your health.
One recent study found that doing light physical activity (preparing a meal or strolling through a park, for example) may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among women in their early 60s and older.
An observational study published Aug. 8, 2018, in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that even light physical activity, combined with less time sitting, is associated with signs of better heart and blood vessel health among older adults.
The more physically active you are, the lower your risk of high blood pressure, a study in the April 2017 issue of Hypertension suggests. Researchers pooled data from 29 studies involving a total of more than 330,000 people, about 20% of whom had high blood pressure. They examined the association between high blood pressure and leisure-time physical activity (walking, dancing, or gardening, for example).
There is a link between staying active and well-being. By making sure that I regularly move my body, I look after my physical health.
For me simplest mantra to activity is
L, the third letter of CALM stands for Learning - the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill. It is the third dimension to improve my personal well-being. By learning, I am able to make my life much richer.
To learn is to gain new knowledge, new skills and new experiences. Learning is also about challenging ourselves to do something different or improve upon what we have done before.
With continuous learning, I am able to maintain my mental well-being, which is the state in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
By learning, we make our life much richer.
Learning is essential to our existence. Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continued learning nourishes our minds. We have a deep need to learn, to make sense of new things in the world around us, to discover how things work. We need to be open to new experiences, ideas, and allowing ourselves to know what we encounter in the world. If we are engaged in learning, we feel better about ourselves. We also have self-confidence and self-esteem, greater sense of hope and purpose in life and have a greater ability to cope with stress and anxieties. Learning helps us view the world from a range of perspectives, makes it easier to adapt to new situations and inspires creativity within us.
By learning new things, we know more and grow more.
There are many different ways to bring learning into our life. I have fitted learning into my daily routine, and I am always open to different experiences.
I usually read a book, learn from lectures, media, webinars or online courses. I also learn by having a conversation with new people. Learn by travelling has always been my favourite type and I enjoy learning by acquiring my own personal experiences. I learn by teaching to underprivileged students, by helping them with their homework and by knowing something new from them. I also learn by joining a new course or social group or hobby class.
I have also learnt by trying something new, taking a different responsibility and by exploring anything of interest on “How To” videos on YouTube or Google.
At work place, I keep on learning at by taking on a new role, new assignment or new job. I seek out opportunities for professional development like participating in basic and advance labs. I also attend seminars, conferences and join online courses to upgrade my skills. Today internet is making it easier for us all to keep on learning in new and interesting ways. We may set a new challenge and may achieve the same.
A Pew Research survey in 2015 found that: 73% of adults consider themselves lifelong learners and 74% of adults participate in activities to advance their knowledge about something that personally interests them.
Tom Hood expressed a neat equation for dealing with change: “In a world of rapid change and increasing complexity, the winners will be those who can keep their L>C i.e. their rate of learning must be greater than the rate of change and greater than the rate of their competition.”
Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report emphasised the importance of developing learning approaches that “enable people to develop themselves every day”.
“To keep up with the speed of business and innovation, today’s workforce environment demands a culture of “continuous learning,” a fundamental understanding of creative and innovative ways of thinking, combined with the desire to learn new skills.” Mentions Ryan D. Burgess, director of Ohio’s Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.
Alan Tuckett makes the point that “learning throughout life makes sense. Research shows it is good for our health, our wealth, our civic engagement and our family’s future prospects. It prolongs our independent life and enriches our quality of life.”
Learning new things can be fun and help us to find mental well-being in our life. We should keep learning and keep reflecting.
My mantra for learning is
M, the fourth letter of CALM stands for Mindfulness - the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something. It is the fourth dimension to improve my personal well-being. By being mindful, I have been able to make my life much more enlightening.
To me, being mindful is to focus the attention on the present moment—and accepting it without being judgmental. It is being aware of my thoughts, bodily sensations and feelings and also being aware of outside environment.
With mindfulness, I am able to maintain my spiritual well-being, which can mean something different to everyone.
According to a study from Harvard University, people report being happiest while their mind is not wandering from what they are doing. When our mind is wandering, we are not paying attention to what we are doing. This results in more mistakes, less efficiency, and less enjoyment. Secondly, when we are not paying attention, we might be wishing to experience happiness resulting from the imagination, but this only gives us a very superficial experience of the life we are actually leading and never leads to a stable and deeply satisfying level of wellbeing.
By focusing on the present moment and being in “Here and now”, we reduce thoughts and maintain a level of calmness. Simply remaining grounded in the present moment and focusing on the breath, following relaxing guided imagery and visualizations or silently repeating a mantra activate the parasympathetic (rest and relaxation) branch of the autonomic nervous system, allowing the body to recover more efficiently from acute and chronic stress.
Mindfulness increases the mind’s ability to concentrate and remain focused. It also increases the feelings of compassion and kindness towards others. It also helps in reducing stress and anxiety.
We become mindful by developing the skill of bringing our attention to whatever is happening in the present moment.
During the day whenever I get time,
I observe my breath- starting with one breath to two breath and then three and four and so on.
I feel my body sensations and notice each part of the body in succession from head to toe.
I observe my thoughts from a distance and try to focus on positive thoughts while sending away negative ones.
I get familiar with and understand my feelings.
I do notice all my senses- sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches around me without judgment and let them go.
I also use my senses to notice the presence of others – their smell, touch, voice, smile and laugh. By observing more and without getting lost in thoughts, we are more mindful.
There are several mindfulness practices like observing the breath, body-scan and practicing yoga asanas while attending to movements and body sensations, and walking meditation etc.
Stress-related health problems like anxiety and depression might be treatable with meditation according to a meta-analysis of 47 studies.
Meditators who went through an eight-week mindfulness training program had significantly more flu antibodies than their non-meditating peers after they received a flu vaccine, according to a randomized controlled study by Richard A. Davidson and Jon Kabat-Zinn published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
A 2017 study looking at brain function in healthy, older adults suggests meditation may increase attention.
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the default mode network (DMN) of advanced meditators was not as active, suggesting seasoned practitioners may experience less mind wandering and a resting state closer to a meditative one: able to shift out of ruminative thoughts with more ease and carry out tasks with less distraction.
Research suggests that meditating can increase respiratory sinus arrhythmia, the natural variations in heart rate that happen when we breathe that indicate better heart health and an increased chance of surviving a heart attack.
Researchers in a wide array of mental health situations have found that adding mindfulness as a fundamental part of their treatment strategies has proven to be essential in treating conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and drug addiction, and is also helpful in the prevention of chronically relapsing depression.
Focusing on the timing and pace of breath may help direct attention and boost mood, says a new study in the Journal of Neurophysiology.
A review of 23 studies examining the benefits of mindfulness-based programs in the workplace found that following training, employees felt less stress, anxiety and psychological distress, and experienced greater overall well-being and sleep quality.
Science shows that when we are attending to something intentionally, even if it is a great piece of food that we are eating, reduces the thinking brain. It is also enjoyable to notice the small beautiful things in life. This could be a flower outside or laying down and looking at the clouds. There is something enjoyable about being present. Creating this space helps restore spiritual well-being.
My mantra for mindfulness is
An individual’s well-being is what is ultimately good for them. Calm ki baaten explains four types of behaviours or everyday actions people can and should do to help themselves in staying socially, physically, psychologically and spiritually healthy. These are very simple steps to improve well-being. All four of these suggestions are easily achievable and applicable to anyone’s life regardless of their circumstances. Power and value of this simple concept lies in finding ways that work for us, consistently taking action and noticing the difference after adopting healthy behaviours. It then becomes possible to sustain our commitment to living a healthier and most satisfying life. As we develop our strengths, we also become more resilient and are more able to deal with the challenges as and when they arise.
Small improvements in wellbeing can increase our ability to lead a more fulfilling life. Each action in the CALM ki baaten can make a positive difference to our life. We already are doing some of these actions without being aware of it. To get the most from CALM, we need to try to combine all of them on a daily basis. We can link one action with other actions too. We may connect with others while doing an exercise. We may be active while learning something new in a hobby class. We may keep on learning while connecting with others. We may be mindful by noticing how we are progressing at our new skill or how we are walking, or taking notice of how the people we connect with are doing.
We attain optimal health and thus CALM in life at every stage, if we are able to:
Connect with people to achieve social well-being
Be active by giving body the attention it requires for physical well-being
Learn about ever evolving world to achieve mental well-being
Be mindful of present moment to justify spiritual well-being
Together, these four actions take care of all dimensions of well-being thus making life calm and much more gratifying. The path of transformation by adopting CALM may not be easy but it definitely brings satisfaction and benefits that affect entire life. Key is to stick to it, and take small actions every day that add up to big improvements up over time. We slowly come to know that calm emerges from our thoughts, actions, and experiences — most of which we have control over. We all can aim to attain calm, wellbeing and happiness in life by our own actions.
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