Reminders: Lessons brought into spotlight
This past one year, has been like a big reset in our lives. It has compelled us to pause and face the reality of everything around us, so that we can no longer ignore, distract or turn a blind eye towards problems around us and within us, and simply go on with our lives. It has showed us that periodically we need to look at and learn how to live more mindfully. So many of these values that have come to focus, make the pillars of maintaining good mental health.
But why do we need to? Because just as maintaining good overall physical health and building our immunity through diet, exercise and medical attention is important to lead better lives. So is maintaining good overall mental health and building resilience important to lead better and fulfilling lives. The brain and mind also a segment of our body and not separate from general health.
Let’s look at some of these aspects we have recognized and align with common mental health principles, that we can keep moving forward.
Connecting and helping: importance of relationships and community
Often times, we end up being busy in the day-to-day routine and can’t find enough time to spend time with our friends and family. However, connecting with them, having warm and compassionate relationships are essential to feel supported and belonged. Social support also makes dealing with adverse situations much easier. We have seen so many instances or examples of humanitarian behavior during this pandemic, where people have helped each other and that completely changed outcomes. Therefore, connecting with and helping people around us, in turn helps sustain ourselves and adds meaning to our lives too. Having a sense of being in- this- together and being there for each other, helped many of us carry on, even with difficulties. Every person contributing in their own way, makes a collective effort more beneficial for the community.
Making the time to relax and reflect in order to recharge
The time we have spent indoors has inevitably helped us realize that taking some time to wind down and relax is just as important as working and in fact makes us more efficient. When we are often jumping from one chore to another, things become mechanical and tiring overtime. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and loss of interest in most areas of life, and is detrimental to our health and well-being. Its easy to get caught up in this cycle, but taking a small amount of time frequently to relax, reflect and engage in activities that we enjoy can be refreshing and add peace and happiness instantly.
Approach, attitude and mindset: matters
A perspective of gratitude becomes so important when we realize that it’s a blessing to have simply our basic necessities and needs met or having work and sources of income. So, valuing the things we already have in our life and being thankful that we do, in general can affect how we experience the similar circumstances. This is not to say, that being overly optimistic is the solution. But, having a positive outlook and hope can induce bit of motivation and enthusiasm in our daily living, and also help us overcome difficult days when we have something to look forward to. We have observed so many institutions, organizations, groups and individuals develop creative solutions to meet the problems that came up with the pandemic and lockdown situations. Looking at challenges as a chance to problem-solve, grow and evolve instead of as failures and set-backs, can make a huge difference in how we deal with them. It helps us adapt better.
Emotional awareness and mental flexibility: need more attention
Now, that we were unable to easily distract ourselves and our minds from our personal challenges, we need to face them and find better ways to deal with uncomfortable feelings. It is the need of the hour to focus on ourselves and our lifestyles and habits amongst other things. When we are aware of our emotions, we can understand our needs, expectations, thoughts and responses/reactions with more clarity. This helps us feel more at peace, and not just that, also affects how we can show up and empathize for others. Mental flexibility is trying to be more open to learning and eventually growing an ability to shift, adapt, think and take appropriate action for changing demands in different situations. It helps cope with distress better, and in taking steps to ask for adequate help when needed, all of it adds to good mental health and well-being.
In summary, while we acknowledge the difficulties and inevitable long-term distress, suffering, and challenges such a situation as the pandemic has brought; and may consequentially have ripple effects moving forward. It would be unfruitful to not take away some of these learnings and integrate them in our lives and improvise our habits mentally and physically. Hopefully, with this little bit we can be more attentive, mindful and find balance in our lives.