It doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger.
How often do we ask ourselves – how are we, really? Does it have to take a shocking incident, a deep emotion like a heartbreak, or a pandemic like the COVID-19 to really give in to a deep underlying emotion or unearth part of ourselves that always needed care and nurturing – something that we have been neglecting. Remember a time, when you got a call from a friend in a grim situation, with almost suicidal thoughts, someone who has given up hope in life!
The present pandemic times have been really disturbing, creating a flurry of emotions in most of our lives, emerging from which has become a challenge – the biggest reason why mental well being is talked about so much. Never have we felt such an overwhelming sense of taking care of our mental health in order to maintain sanity, not only in our lives but also the lives of our close ones.
Well, it might not always be easy to start with, but if we take in what feels comfortable, picking up things we like to do at first– maybe just one or two to start with, we will be good to go.
- Pause and take a break - Taking some time off your normal routine and indulging in an activity even if it is for a short time - Go for a long walk, read a book, spend some time with your pet, or watch a good movie, can help break the routine monotony.
- Focus on your breathing – Believe it or not, this small practice can do wonders to improve your mood and overall health, if done regularly. When you feel stressed or anxious, stop for a while, take long deep breaths, inhaling from your nose and exhaling from your mouth. Count till four, when you are breathing in and four when you are breathing out. Keep your shoulders relaxed and feel your stomach rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
- Connect with friends and family – Relationships build a sense of self worth and belongingness in us which in turn, goes a long way in keeping us happy and mentally strong and stable. Taking time off each day to be with the family, going on lunch dates with friends or colleagues, once in a while, or volunteering at a community group – are some ways to build stronger relationships. Social media is a good way to connect with people, but not always the best methods to have closer and more meaningful relationships.
- Activity and exercise – Being physically active induces the production of ‘Happy hormones’ in our bodies that helps promote positivity, happiness and well-being. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are hormones that get released when we indulge in physical activities like walking, exercise, Yoga, regular outings, meditation, massage etc and these are natural mood boosters.
- Staying present in the moment – Replaying a past unpleasant experience and doubting ourselves is something all of us do at some point of time or the other. Instead, when you catch yourself doing that the next time, bring yourself to the present moment. It is something that is also called ‘Mindfulness’. This practice helps you enjoy life more and also understand yourself better. If made a habit, it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
- Extend a helping hand – Small acts of kindness and giving to others go a long way in improving your self esteem and in turn, create positive feelings. Research shows that indulging in activities like volunteering or extending helps to others can alleviate mental well-being to a great extent.
Above everything, understand when you are not feeling better and you really need to talk about it; there is no shame to ask for support when you are really feeling low or stressed. After all, rough patches appear in everyone’s life; nevertheless, life is a beautiful journey.