Mental illness, anxiety, depression, stress – these topics have become the most searched ones on Google and Youtube nowadays! In a world which is reeling under competition, deadlines, excel sheets, sales graphs, forgotten birthdays and anniversaries, run for fatter packages, junk and fast food, lessening generosity, shrinking mind, growing friend lists, lessening love but innumerable “likes” and “love” emojis, stress, tension and mental illness have become the order of the day!
Now, why is there such a hue and cry over mental illness and searching for ways to be mentally fit? Why do fitness experts keep talking about joining gym, yoga classes or if nothing, meditate at home? Or, why at all do we need to stay happy and peaceful when at the end of the day, all that matters is our intelligence driving crazy over meeting deadlines and if we could drag this aching body every single day to that same workplace?
I know it is because of these aforementioned reasons that many people completely ignore the importance of maintaining a healthy mind although they “know” everything about it! I am not trying to scare you but let me summarize all the “minor things” that can happen due to constant stress and anxiety:
Too much of constant stress and anxiety leads to the sugar level in your blood to skyrocket. Apart from this, stress and tension infuses many ill habits in us, such as binge eating, not wanting to exercise, which in turn leads to diabetes!
Now, how does that happen due to anxiety? Constant stress and tension causes the secretion of the stress hormone, Cortisol which increases the insulin level in your blood. Increased secretion of insulin makes you crave for sugary food and drinks making you a binge eater. All this increases the fat around your belly area which leads to obesity. And we all know about the plethora of illnesses that strike due to excess fat and obesity.
Stress for a prolonged period is also a cause of heart attacks! Stress, anxiety causes the flow of excess Triglyceride and Cholesterol in the bloodstream and also, increases the blood pressure. All these cause severe wear and tear of the heart tissues causing serious cardiac problems, including heart attacks.
Do you find yourself checking your phone without any reason again and again while the clock keeps ticking away and you are trying hard to sleep? And perhaps worst, do you have to reach out to sleeping pills to get a good night’s sleep because stressful and negative thoughts cloud your senses? Unresolved problems, unhealthy competition at workplace, studying subjects you are not competent enough to handle, exams etc are major causes of stress and depression that lead to insomnia. And nowadays, insomnia is affecting school kids, college students and office goers alike.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can also give rise to breathing problems like asthma. And what’s worse; chronic asthma in parents is often passed on to their children, especially when pregnant mothers constantly smoke exposing the fetus to polluted air.
Ever experienced constant heartburn, nausea, vomiting tendency and acidity when you are struggling with anxiety and nervousness? If your answer is yes, then you already know the reasons. Constant unresolved problems lead to stress which in turn leads gastrointestinal problems leading to stomach ulcers as well.
- Premature aging:
Who doesn’t want to look young forever? Well, we all want! But untreated depression, prolonged stress and anxiety topple all the equations. These work to shorten the DNA telomere strands leading to signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, dark spots, dark circles etc.
Have you ever asked yourself, how has stress helped you out? Never is the obvious answer! Well, fact is work pressure and deadlines induce stress in us, but again, it is the same stress which highly affects our performance at work. So why stress yourself out thinking about work when you already know that this will only make your performance worse? And not only work, sexual performances are also highly affected by stress and anxiety leading to broken relations and “unhappier” lives!
So now that a good amount of reflection has been done on the ill effects of stress, let us discuss about the solutions and how you can keep your mental health intact in this fast moving world of rat-race!
No social media in the early morning:
Don’t kill me for this, but almost all of us have this habit of checking out our social media accounts even when our eyes are half-closed with sleep! Let me tell you; this is enough to ruin your day! Early in the morning when our minds are absolutely fresh, we are stuffing it with conceptions of how “others” are enjoying their lives, how successful “others” are, what “others” are achieving or how fit and beautiful “others” are looking! Stop! This is YOUR day which is about to start, not others’, more so because of 90% people fake over social media! These ideas about others’ lives that you are stuffing your minds with remain stuck to you and will forever give you a sense of inferiority throughout the day. So, it is absolutely important to set short-term goals for yourself. Achieve one of them in the course of the day and then binge on whats-app, Facebook, Instagram. Trust me you will be happier and you will perceive a sense of fulfillment!
Take care of your body:
Mental health is largely affected by ill-maintenance of physical health. Try waking up every day in the early morning, set your alarm clock on, get into a pair of tracks and t-shirts that make you feel good and confident, wear high-performance sneakers and go! Regular brisk walking for even 15 minutes in the morning can give you amazing results by not only toning down your body but also secreting mood-boosting “happy hormones” called Serotonin and Dopamine. Hitting the gym, swimming, engaging in any kind of outdoor sports: all these activities not only help you to get that dream body you want but also help to keep your mood uplifted.
Be good to others:
Sounds very clichéd right? But love, compassion, kindness and loyalty can give you mental peace, inner happiness and sense of purpose in life! Try being a part of a non-profit organization, or an old age home, or an orphanage or if you don’t find time for any of these, taking care of your own parents, your grandparents, your brothers and sisters, the poor children living in your neighborhood, the kids of your servants and care-takers can help sooth your troubled mind to a great extent. Kids are innocent, sinless and a little amount of love and a few words of kindness can make them feel dependent on you. This gives you a sense of responsibility, purpose and the need to be good because someone may be looking up to your presence and waiting for your love.
You must be thinking that when you have a whole storm of emotions playing inside you, how can you sit calmly and relax your mind? Well, you need to try for at least 10 minutes a day, thinking of it as a very necessary “medicine” to heal yourself. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can help you decrease anxiety, control stress, improve proper blood flow and maintain the health of your heart. And all this is not an old wives’ tale! MRI scan practiced on a brain subjected to an eight-week dedicated practice of meditation has shown that the brain’s amygdala or the “fight or flight” center that initiate the body’s response to stress and anxiety, actually shrinks in size after a dedicated dose of regular meditation. Thus slowly, the mind as well as the body gains controls over itself and most importantly, learns to keep itself in control, even in times of extreme stress. In case you find great difficulty in initiating the practise of meditation, I can tell you about some simple ways that can act as an aid:
- Start your practice inside a temple, mosque, Gurudwara or a church, whichever faith you believe in. Closeness to God (I mean the idolized presence of God) calms the mind.
- YouTube has a great collection of Self-help, motivational videos, videos on the interpretations of the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible etc; sit calmly, close your eyes and listen to them.
- Before going to bed, sit down calmly, close your eyes, try remembering all that you did throughout the day; if the way you had behaved or acted is the way you want to see yourself behaving. Make a mental note and correct yourself.
Talk it Out:
Suppressing emotions and feelings, both positive and negative, leads to over-thinking and unnecessary pressure on you which not only damage you mentally but also physically. Life is filled with ups and down and hence you should feel absolutely no shame in expressing all the colors of emotion openly. Feeling sad, depressed, angry or happy; call up your best friend or anyone whom you trust and talk your heart out to that one person. Casual chats and little conversations, even in insignificant places such as restrooms, laundry rooms, bookstores etc lead to firm friendships that may prove to enrich for life. A study shows that even 10-minute chats with the person you trust can enhance your executive function and mental agility. It lowers the amount of pressure and the burden of stress and anxiety that you are carrying within your heart and helps to build mutual understanding and stronger bonds. In the same way, socialize with your friends, throw parties, go for night outs, booze, shop, laugh, love and live life to the fullest!
- Set small goals:
Setting small targets or goals which are achievable in a day keeps your spirits high and steers you towards success! At the end of the day even if you achieve 2 goals a day, know this, you are doing awesome! Write these goals on sticky notes and attach them to your office desk or your home! Goals can be work, personal life or health related! This also makes you think of more fruitful tasks, steers your mind towards productive work and inhibits over-thinking! But again, there is no reason to fret if you cannot fulfill them. Life always pulls you back before launching you into something greater and better!
Note: Mental Health is a very serious issue and has been discussed by many bloggers and YouTubers. But I have mentioned only those solutions which have been of personal benefit to me and my friends who have been through the same. However, for extreme problem please seek medical help and counseling. Thank you!