Life through its pages and chapters teaches you more than what you can learn at any School or College. You may not get a piece of paper called a Degree in your hand with what you learn because you are a forever student of Life. With the recent Celebrity Deaths due to Depression, social media is abuzz these days about Mental Health and Its importance and its links to lifestyle and social wellbeing.
Now I am no expert in Psychology however having worked within the Community Services- Employment services sector for the last 7 years I am simply noting down a few key lessons I have learnt through my experiences to maintain inner status quo within yourself for optimal mental health and well being.
Lesson 1 – Love Yourself
Biggest lesson I have learnt is to Love myself. This includes loving yourself inside out. No matter what shape or size you are and no matter how rich or not so rich you are, learn to love and accept yourself. Let no one ever tell you otherwise.
Lesson 2- You are your Own Competition
If you love yourself, then you would only truly care about achieving your own goals and targets. Do not worry about what anyone is doing because they are charting their own journey and you are yours. If you are your own Competition then there will never be any fear of losing your Number 1 spot in the rat race because you are simply not participating in the rat race!!
Lesson 3- Choose your Friends Wisely
Peers can be the best influencers, hence choose well. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, who support you wholeheartedly and will be there for you when you need them the most.
Lesson 4 – Keep your family close
I am not talking about the physical proximity however I am talking about being in constant communication with family because they are your kin. They understand the inner workings of your family the best and will be there to guide and protect you if you ever feel a bit lost or confused in life. They have often seen you grow up and have known you as a person for the longest. Parents, relatives and cousins are people that should be on your speed dial.
Lesson 5 – Hear Evil or See Evil and Analyse Evil but don’t let it register or affect you
Hear no Evil and See No Evil is a little hard to practice in practical life. Through what we hear or see, be it at work, dealing with a client or with colleagues or friends has the ability to inadvertently affect us. We may carry that stress on our shoulders and it could lead to anxiety in the long run. Talking to a friend or relative or a parent about it at the time a situation has happened is the best way to analyse the issue and work on strategies to avoid that stressful situation in the future. At work there are always Employee Assist Programs which are anonymous and you can avail these sessions without worrying about anyone else finding out about it.
Lesson 6 – Speak No Evil
I believe that Speaking negative begets Speaking negative. It’s a cyclic process that will not stop. Most common examples are back biting, bickering about one person to another when they are not present. It sounds very trivial however it is not. I have always been extremely forthright and honest. I will tell you the same thing to your face that I would say behind your back. A few times I have had foot in the mouth situations because I have been too honest but I believe in being transparent in my interactions with colleagues, clients, family and friends. My key learning has been that if you do not have a nice thing to say about someone, then just do not say anything. Words have intrinsic ability to affect and influence you then why not use them wisely. Saying something positive to brighten up someone’s day is far more fulfilling than being Negative and Caustic.
Lesson 7- Empathy and Care but Do not Expect Anything
Be giving, show empathy and truly care about your family, friends, colleagues and any person that you meet. What you sow so shall you reap. Again you may not get instant results of what you sow, as a tree takes a few years to grow and blossom and bear fruit. Do not expect the same back from anyone. This is one lesson that I learnt the hard way. I would often get upset when friends or colleagues did not reciprocate the care or the empathy in return and I would start questioning my own principles. I spoke to my Dad a few years back about it and he told me, one must think of life like it was a garden. Each flower, fruit or tree grows in different climatic conditions; some may grow in winter or autumn and some in Summer. But each tree to blossom flower or fruit still needs a little bit of sunshine, bit of water, bit of nutrients but a whole lot of love and care by the Gardener. Point to be noted here is that the Gardener does this without any expectations. But when he sees the flower bloom or the fruit on the tree his/ her heart is filled with love and happiness.
Be that Gardener and take charge of your life, plant the people in your life, give them that love and care and continue to do so and one day you will reap the benefits of your labour of love.
Lesson 8 – Eat Healthy and Find time to Exercise
Eating healthy and fueling the body the right way. Fit in 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week to keep fit. Yoga, zumba, running and walking can be done from home and without any equipment. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. For me Yoga is a way of life. I have been practicing yoga for the last 7 years and believe me its calms me down, relieves stress and stretches and tones me up. I have been a proponent of healthy eating since I was a teenager. My grandmother always cooked food that was nutritionally balanced and delicious. You can check my recipe section here for healthy recipes and treats.
Lesson 9 – Learn to accept if you do not feel optimal mental health
If you begin to notice a change of motivation or you realize that your mental health is not performing at its optimal best accepting it is the key step. Secondly speak to your GP and your family about it and seek help. You can also call Beyond Blue to speak to their consultants anonymously.
Lesson 10 – Gratitude and Prayer or Meditation
Take 10 minutes of time from your busy schedule to stop and be grateful for everything you achieved that day. Applaud your achievements. I find offering prayers and chanting hymns a relaxing experience especially in the evening after I come home from work. Meditation for 10 – 15 minutes is also a great way to be one with yourself. Simply breathing in and out slowly and having no thoughts in your mind for 15 minutes can be super relaxing and charges your batteries for the next day.
Mental Health is not the Elephant in the room; it needs to be spoken about. Let’s abolish any taboos about Mental health. I hope some of my life lessons about maintaining optimal mental and physical health resonated with you. If you have any more pointers I would love to hear some in the comments below.