Talking Minds: Erasing the silence of mental health

What is this life if full of care? We have no time to stand and stare..” Quoting the words of the famous poet William Wordsworth from the poem “The Daffodils” where he was urging us to be more carefree and to appreciate leisure. But, how long does this hold true today? Do we really have time for leisure?

Life in the 21st century is indeed quite funny and strange. We are always running around trying to juggle our busy schedules and trying to find that complete work – life balance. We always strive for perfection, be it the perfect score in an exam, the perfect body, a job perfectly done, or finding the perfect dress for the most sought after social situation. While striving for perfection always keeps us on our toes to do better, it many times becomes the cause of our unhappiness.

Hard work and perseverance is surely the key to success. We are truthful to this motto but only when it comes to our outwardly appearances and achievements. What we ignore in the bargain is inner happiness and inner mental peace. So, what exactly is mental peace and mental health?

In simple words mental health is essentially how we feel, think and act. It includes our emotional, psychological and social well being. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Let us take an example: When we suffer from a cold we immediately take medicine or a corrective action to solve it, then why wait till the last minute to solve a mental health issue? However, we can see slight symptoms of the same arising in our day to day life yet we choose to ignore it till a point till where the situation is sufficiently aggravated.

Mental health issues are visible in the form of many irregularities such as anxiety disorders, depression or panic attacks. In the initial stage it starts of as something small and if ignored goes on to spread in our system like a virus left ignored in our body.

So the best of way of dealing with issues of mental health is trying to identify its symptoms, some may be seen as  withdrawal from activity, sleeping too much or too little, low energy, feeling as if in a constant state of confusion, not being able to communicate, are a few to name.

Dealing with these issues is not very difficult. All it requires is a little bit of courage and a little bit of faith. Starting with simple things like confiding in a loved one, becoming more active, listening to your favorite songs or dancing to your favorite beat, and finally not feeling ashamed to ask for professional help when the need may be.

Although the general perception of mental illness has improved over the past decades, studies show that stigma against mental illness is still powerful, largely due to media stereotypes and lack of education, and that people tend to attach negative stigmas to mental health conditions at a far higher rate than to other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Fighting this kind of a stigma becomes even more difficult in the Indian society. We are constantly afraid of what society would perceive if anyone was to hear that we are getting professional help. Dealing with that may sometimes pose additional stress to us. However, we need to overcome this fear for our own benefit as well as try to encourage another to try and do the same. This support can be provided in the form of advising another to seek professional help, or offering a word of encouragement, or sometimes even just being an ear to listen is what a person may need to feel better about themselves.

Let us now explore one such stigma relating to seeking professional help and the many advantages that it has in store for us. Counseling helps us to see things from another perspective, it also helps us to avoid running away from our own issues as we have specifically set out time to deal with our problems. It also gives a sense of freedom from our own prison of negativity and help to break out of it with another’s help. Thus it allows us to see ourselves from the outside yet heightening our own sense of self awareness.

Finding ways to reduce stress is another strategy that can help us stay healthy, given the connection between stress and a variety of disorders. There are many ways to bust stress. It can be in the form of meditation, mindfulness, yoga, playing on weekends, and even taking vacations. It is rightly said that the key to healthy body is a healthy mind.

Maintaining good health doesn’t happen by accident. It requires work and smart lifestyle choices. So let us take a vow today to give equal attention and importance to each and every aspect of our life, to be happy and to embrace each moment in our life.

“Let us not just strive to make a living, let’s strive to make a life.”

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