Saturday, 3 September 2016

Mental health issue is not a taboo

Mental health problems are considered a taboo even in the most modern societies.  Even after all the education and awareness, it is still the most frowned upon issue in today’s world. In fact, most common nowadays, still it is the least understood subject yet it affects everyone in some or the other ways. Mostly, we tend to ignore or overlook the problem instead of dealing with it. Once we understand the importance why should we deal with it and what might happen if we don’t, we can realise how serious the issue can be and we should not ignore it thinking it as “just a bad mood”.  I have lost a very dear friend due to depression and this article is an effort to raise awareness and to make an effort to save precious lives in my own little way. I am not a qualified person and these are my observations that I have experienced in my life which can help someone.

As our life has become fast and lonely, the pressure has increased tremendously. This pressure, in long term, gives rise to the stress related issues in our body and mind. When we become chronically stressed the body starts to show symptoms. Many physical symptoms are psychological in origin.  Many physical symptoms are rooted in psychological disturbance.

In my personal observation, there are four steps to deal with any problem. Identify, Accept, Face/fight and overcome. First step is to identify. Once you identify second step is acceptance. Third step is face, fight and deal it and fourth is to overcome. Let’s start with first step. Identify the problem. If there is any visible long lasting change in a person’s behaviour you need to double check with someone.  Next step is to accept that you or your family member needs help. Once you accept the problem it is easy to deal with it. Most people don’t go to psychiatrist because they don’t want to be labelled as “mad”, but we have to remember that not everyone who goes to psychiatrist has major issues. Most problems can be very small. Also “what society may think of us” is another issue. Well, you have to decide who is more important for you: Yourself, Your family, your health, your well-being or the society? ; Pretty obvious. Now let’s understand why it is important to deal with it.

Depression is one of the major issues in today’s world which is often looked as taboo. It is far too common in today’s world than ever before, especially in women. They are more prone and vulnerable in today’s world. Loneliness, difficult past, abuse, difficult childhood, high expectations, workload, lack of social support, lack of coping skills, lack of understanding from family, ever changing social parameters in terms of culture and expectations put immense pressure on our mind. We can take pressure to some extent but if the pressure is beyond our capacity to handle, we start to show the symptoms and become victim of “the dreaded” mental issues. 

Lack of awareness and social stigma attached to it make it even more difficult to deal and people avoid seeking help. It is crucial to understand why it is important to address any mental health issues before it gets out of control. It is very important to understand that it is not just a bad mood but it is something bigger and needs to be addressed; just like you would treat any abnormality in your body, your mind also needs attention when it is troubled.  Any untreated mental health problem can even lead to suicide which is quite common nowadays; especially in children and adolescents which is why we cannot afford to ignore. It can hamper confidence, happiness, quality of life, social life, personal life and overall feeling of well-being. Aren’t these reason enough to understand how important it is?

Also it is important to understand it just does not limit itself to mind.  As we all know that the mind and the body are connected, it affects physical health as well. A depressed person is less likely to take physical exercise or eat healthily because everyday activity looks like a big task to him/her.  Obviously, he/she becomes more and more vulnerable and gets prone to diseases. This is very dangerous situation that needs to be addressed immediately as we cannot afford to lose our health.

A depressed person’s social and interpersonal skills are also very much diminished. He lacks the judgment, persistence, patience and social skills to have good relations. His family life gets affected. It is very important to understand if a parent suffers from mental health issues, the children tend to get affected as well so it is very important to treat the problem.  

When we understand why it is so important, we can start acting on the issue. We must keep in mind that not all the people who go to psychiatrist are “mad”. In fact, in my observation, the most sensitive, intellectual and kind people sometimes fall victim of the illness and it takes courage to accept that someone has a problem. Also, sometimes the cure can be very simple and may not even take long time to treat. I have seen people who were once visibly shattered have freed themselves from their problems and now live happy and successful life.

 If you suspect that you or your family member has any issues, you need to seek advice. The evil is not the person or the issue but the stigma attached to it.  We need to address it and it can easily be done with so many options available nowadays. If you feel any problem that lasts for long time and does not go away, it is time to address it. Just like we cannot ignore the dust by sweeping under the carpet we cannot shrug off a problem without addressing it. Our main focus/target/purpose of life is happiness. Isn’t it? So anything that makes you unhappy for a long time is not normal and with so much help available it is possible to live life with hope and happiness. We all have enough power in our soul to overcome any problems that comes in our life but sometimes we just need little push and help to recognise it. Don’t just give up. Accept, face, stand up, seek help, overcome and be happy.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Boys will be boys

We read a lot about daughters. We praise them from the bottom of our heart and adore them like princesses. Of course, daughters are darlings but sometimes boys seem to be left out and underappreciated; even misunderstood at times.

Boys will be boys and that is what makes them unique. They are different; rather A LOT different. A boy does not come and cuddle or do anything that makes you proud instantly but will surprise you with the most unusual act of intelligence, innocence and generosity. Generally, they don’t do things that you can ‘show off’ to your friends and family but they do shock you by doing something exceptional when you expect the least. That is the way boys are.  They do not win prizes or awards every now and then and you start to feel uncomfortable and worried and suddenly you get invitation to attend award ceremony by the school and they receive awards in the category that you didn’t even know exists!!!

The boys don’t always say “Mom, I love you” or say anything too flattering or pleasing, per se, but they show you most tender loving care if you really are in deep trouble or in pain. They do try to comfort you by in a silent but affirming way.

I remember, once, on Mother’s day, all my friends (with daughters) were discussing how their lovely daughters made them proud by showering them with gifts and drawing cards and I realised my boy has not gifted me anything yet.  I came home and my little boy (aged four year at that time) came to me and handed over a lovely gift box which was already lying around at home and told me “when I will grow up and earn, I will present you nice jewellery but for time being, you can put anything you like in this box”.  I was so touched by his gesture that I felt it was the best day of my life.
Occasionally, when we try to encourage our boys to achieve something in terms of awards or acknowledgement, we often come across most interesting and intelligent answers like “I will get when the time is right” or “I will get when the teacher thinks I am intelligent” or “give me some time”!! Even if you think you were just trying to improve some grades, but you still have to put up with all these clever arguments or may be, get some spiritual insight till you get peace and guidance and once we get accustomed with our boys, there comes a time when we can’t think any other way other than the ‘boyish’ way.  We start to enjoy watching football matches more than tennis matches!!!!

At the end of the day there is always something to learn, something to think, something to change, and something very touching and the days always end with a big hug, cuddles and sweet goodnight kisses. Despite all the challenges they give throughout the day, they are the most wonderful, insightful and adorable little people of our life…

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Tips to reduce exam stress

Exams are very important and crucial time in children’s lives. Here are a few tips that I have tried and worked well for me. Each child is different and these are only guidelines.
1.       Have a schedule. A well-defined schedule reduces stress and helps child feel relaxed.  A well- defined timetable helps him to focus and keep his mind off worry.
2.       Diet.  A nutritionally rich diet always helps the child to keep calm.  Nothing new should be tried at this time. A normal diet that the child is used to is great. Fresh fruits give plenty of energy and make them feel refreshed. My mum used to give me grapes and I loved it.
3.       Hydration. Staying well hydrated is important for children to focus on studies. Make sure they drink enough water.
4.       Keep calm. It is important that you as parent to keep calm. If you get stressed, your child is most likely to get stressed too.  Often parent’s anxiety makes the situation much worse. It affects the child negatively.
5.       Have normalcy. Have regular schedule. Making it look like any other normal day makes child feel relaxed. If you carry on with your normal routine, child feels like it is a normal day. It helps them feel relaxed.
6.       No screen.  I got this very unusual and important advice which I felt was very useful. No screen in the evening the day before exams. It helps the child to stay calm because they don’t get overstimulated by the screen.
7.       Sleep. It is essential to get good night sleep. No use having a sleep deprived child who is unable to focus on the study. Early bedtime helps the child to recover and focus on the exams.
8.       Breakfast. On the day of exam, it is important that the child eats freshly cooked homemade breakfast. It gives them enough strength to cope with the pressure and enough energy to deal with the stress.
9.       Stress relief. Deep breathing or meditation works well if the child feels stressed. Nothing new should be tried at this time. Just do what he is used to. Even playing outside for 30 minutes refreshes the mind and keeps it cool or just play board game or indoor games if he likes.  After play the child is usually more focused and relaxed.

10.   Reassurance. Before the child goes for exam, reassure him that no matter what the outcome may be, he will still be loved. It works like magic. It relieves pressure and makes them calm.

10 Life lessons for happpiness

As we grow older we become more aware about our life and there comes the important life lessons.  Here are a few that I learnt in order to be more happy and content.

  1. Accept yourself. It is very important to accept yourself because by accepting yourself you can slowly learn to accept the whole world and life becomes quite easy. We must accept our uniqueness with all the weakness and strength.  It will attract the right kind of people around you and you will not be in people-pleasing mode all the time which will save you a lot of mental energy. Just be yourself and explore your uniqueness and enjoy your life.

  1. Accept everything. Once you master the skill of accepting yourself, next step is to accept everything around you; each person, situation and everything around it. No matter how much you want your boss to be nice to you or you want your in-laws to be kind to you, or you want your partner to understand you or your children to listen to you, there will be time when they won't. So instead of whining and wasting time and energy you can focus on managing the problem and move on just by accepting the situation.  As time goes by people change but in the meantime, just hold on and stay calm.

  1. Respect, value and take care of yourself. It is very important to take care of yourself in today's world. If you can't take care of yourself you will never be able to help anyone else. By taking care of yourself you save lots of problems later in life and also set a good example for children. By putting yourself first by taking care of yourself you can help other people because they don't have to take care of you and they can focus on their life without worries. If you are struggling with your own health, you cannot help your family when they need you. Also have a ground for your belief, principles and values, no matter how hard the situations are. It gives you firm ground for yourself and makes you confident. Patience and perseverance always pays.

  1. Value relationships. Always acknowledge random act of kindness. It improves relations dramatically. Say thank you to your spouse when he accompanies you in a doctor's visit or say thank you to your child when he gets you a glass of water after a hard long day. Tell them how much you love them. You will thank yourself in future that you did it because life is too fast to realise that in no time your toddler is going to leave the house for university or spouse having health problems or parents ageing and leaving us forever.

  1. Have a purpose in life. Life without purpose is like road without direction. You can go on and on without reaching anywhere. People who have purpose in life are always motivated, happy and energetic. Always find your purpose in life and enjoy it. It gives immense satisfaction and fulfilment.

  1. Have faith or belief. Having belief or faith makes you stronger and gives you power to withstand difficulties in life and keeps you firm on the ground. Faith in either God, supreme power or higher power gives you directions in the event of disaster. Even a small ritual or simple meditation is all that takes to change life forever.

  1. Listen to your soul. Always listen to your soul for purpose or direction in life. It also guides you in many other ways when mind is not able to decide properly. The deep, sometimes weak, sound always tells you what is right and what is wrong. You just have to tune into it. Meditation is the best way to listen to your soul. All your answers are within so meditate and get all your questions answered.

  1. Say NO to abuse. This is a bit serious but very important point. Always identify, understand, protest and stop abuse. It is quite surprising to find that abuse is far too common in this world. We may be putting up with decades of abuse and manipulations that we don’t even realise so it is vital that you understand and protect yourself against abuse. The modern life can get the worst out of people so it is important to stop because a bullied becomes a bully and the saga continues and you don’t want to continue the saga.  Abuse depletes your soul’s energy and makes you weak so you must stop it.

  1. Forgive. It is very important to forgive people whoever has done any damage to your mind, body or soul. It is very hard to do because their actions made you very bitter but the only way to move ahead in life is to forgive. It liberates you. It also does not mean that you have to take them back in your life and get betrayed again. It just means that they can’t harm you anymore.

  1. Gratitude. No matter what happens in life there is always something to cherish and celebrate. Gratitude helps to calm down the nerves and enhance our ability to think clearly when everything seems very difficult. Simple act of writing down all positive experience calms down the mind immediately and makes us feel positive. It also attracts abundance in life because you are focusing on positive aspects and your mind is calm.

As life goes on, I am still learning and I am quite surprised how much more is still to be discovered.