How To Take Care of Your Mental Health During This Pandemic
Even as the lockdown is being eased down in certain parts of this country, India touched the 2,00,000 mark with respect to the number of Covid-19 cases, nearly doubling within a span of two weeks. Your daily life may have come to a standstill, but your growth shouldn’t. The country might be still in lockdown mode, but you can choose to unlock yourself. Here are a few tips to know how to take care of your mental health during this lockdown period.
No, don’t get me wrong. It’s not a list of exercises or diets or foods. You will find that all over the internet. “Foods to Eat”,” Exercises include” and quite a few such things. Here we are talking about Your Mind.
What is Mind?
The mind is a term used to describe aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as your thoughts, feelings, subjective states, and self-awareness.
What are the different faculties of your mind?
You know about your five senses- your ability to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. They help you to receive your world, but your mental faculties allow you to create your world
You have six mental faculties
- Faculty of Perception.
- Faculty of Reasoning.
- Faculty of Will.
- Faculty of Imagination.
- Faculty of Intuition.
How to Keep Your Mind, Healthy? / Good Mental Health Tips
Yes, the overall situation is chaotic and you are overwhelmed with life and its many games. Trust me it happens to the best of us. If you truly want to develop your mental faculty of perception and intuition, then tune out all the noise and embrace absolute silence. The way you perceive your world determines your perspective on the world. Your perception depends on the glasses you have put on. To make it more simple, the glasses you are using to view your world will reflect back the ideas and concepts you have of this world.
As a very famous quote from Wayne Dyer puts it, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Often times you end up choosing the wrong glasses and on top of that, it becomes clouded by so many judgments that you fail to hear your own intuition, listening to the noise instead. Also, by striving to change your perception you can change your perspective and can see the same old, mundane things of your life in a completely new, exciting light.
Start by allotting 5 minutes a day to just sit in silence with yourself. Turn off all your electronics and just breathe consciously. Cut the outside noise and listen to your intuition. Then gradually increase this time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and then finally to 30 minutes a day. You will notice greater insight and clarity with yourself over a period of time.
Practice Meditation – Best Way To Take Care of Your Mental Health
Observe your thoughts. Thoughts arise in your mind like passing things on the street. You neither know their origin nor destination. Like any other natural process, they are formed. To take them as permanent truths and trying to control their origin is futile.
Your thoughts are nothing but a momentary perspective, you get at that particular moment. It’s one of the zillion perspectives passing through your mind. You start messing things up when you consider those thoughts as things and get permanently attached to them and identify yourself with them. Say for example you saw a car passing, instead of thinking “Oh! There’s a car driving away. ”If you started to think that this random car hit you, you’d freak out.
Meditation aims at showing you that your thoughts arise from and disappear into a nameless field. You don’t control it. It’s a way of practicing detachment from the thoughts that are making you believe them to be true, resulting in you labeling yourself and identifying with it.
To view thoughts from the perspective of a monk or a master, they are just clouds. We just see clouds. We don’t know when they originate or dissipate. They form varied structures and shapes, but in the end, they are just impermanent vapor. They seem so real but are still temporary. Beyond them is the sky, which is clear. Don’t identify your mind with your thoughts rather identify them with the sky and simply watch your thoughts floating away, rising and evaporating, just as the sky watches its clouds floating all over it. Eventually, you can function without your emotions and thoughts taking over.
Read Also: Meditation For Healthy Mind and Body
Ever felt so filled up that you could hardly take any more? You are not alone. Almost all of us have been through it, but the reason many of us still continue to suffer is that we don’t keep a log of our thoughts and emotions- what did we think and feel, why did we feel that way, and many such questions.
Journaling is simply writing down your thoughts or feelings to keep track of them. It basically helps us to connect with ourselves. Moreover, James Pennebaker, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin states that regular journaling also strengthens our immune cells.
Start journaling and you will be amazed to see it developing your faculty of reasoning by questioning your thoughts and the lurking emotions behind it. It’s one of the best self-improvement tools that you can do as a daily mental exercise. It will prevent your brain from accumulating excess thoughts which when piled up over time can have debilitating effects on your mental health.
You might have been suggested to take a moment to focus on your breathing when you feel stressed out and it helps but have you ever thought why? Well, because we are not in touch with our current environment most of the time, engulfing ourselves with something that might have happened in the past or some incident that you think might happen in the future., which makes us anxious. This simple technique of focusing on breathing brings you back to your present moment and this is what mindfulness is.
When we start running in an autopilot mode in our daily life, slowly we lose track of the activity in our hands; while we keep doing the activity our mind is always functioning in the background, chattering up about everything. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be fully present in the current situation and be mindful of whatever we are doing at that moment without being caught up in our thoughts or judgments or any kind of other mental conversations.
It is not something that we have to conjure up, it’s a quality that all of us have, we just need to learn to access this quality through daily practice, and gradually in the results, it will help you to take care of your mental health.
Practice Delayed Gratification
If you want to develop your faculty of will practice delayed gratification. It is your ability to wait to get what you want. Have you been tempted to go out and party instead of studying for your upcoming exams? Well, if your party, you will be rewarded with instant gratification, but if you resist it, you will be rewarded with an even greater reward – completing your studies, ultimately scoring better grades.
Choosing a long-term reward over instant gratification is what forms the crux of the whole concept of delayed gratification. Success in everything you do requires you to ignore what is easier to do and choose things that are important but harder to do.
In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began to conduct a series of experiments known as The Marshmallow Experiment. Hundreds of children were tested – aged 4-5 years. They were brought into a room individually and a marshmallow was placed in front of them. The researchers offered a deal to the students. They told them that they were to leave the room shortly and if the child didn’t eat the marshmallow while they were away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow, but if they ate the marshmallow before the researchers came back, they wouldn’t get a second marshmallow.
Footage showed only a few children could manage to wait the entire time. Follow up studies found the few handfuls of children who didn’t eat the marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.
Delayed Gratification is a muscle that you can train by consistently making small improvements – letting your brain realize that it’s possible and worth the wait. Start by improving one thing by one percent and slow the effects will accumulate over time.
If you don’t want to take anything from this article, I would request you to take this single piece of advice and incorporate this into your life and see how it changes your life and helps you to take care of your mental health. I have applied it in my own life and seen its most profound changes. It’s nothing but a change in your attitude towards life.
The International Encyclopedia of Ethics defines gratitude as “the heart’s internal indicator on which the tally gifts outweigh exchanges.” It’s a habit of the heart. This has been echoed by writer Angeles Arrien in her book Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life ” Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience.”
We have a habit of undervaluing things that we have in our lives and overvaluing things we don’t have. Just being thankful for the basic things that we have in our lives like a house, food to eat, clean water, friends, family, money to pay the bills, or even your mobile, computer, internet access, etc. It can go a long way in filling up our lives with joy.
Centuries ago, philosopher Cicero had argued that gratitude is the parent of all virtues, cultivating character- the embodiment of all virtues. You can choose to maintain a gratitude journal, taking 10 minutes every day to write down five things that you are grateful for. As said by Arrien “As a choice, gratitude is an attitude or disposition.”
Practice Visualization – Another Best Way To Take Care of Your Mental Health
Visualization is nothing but a simple mental exercise. This also helps you to develop your faculty of imagination. Everything that you see happens twice; first in your mind and then in your reality. Visualization is simply the exercise of bringing that what you want in your life into a clear mental focus. Brain mapping has revealed that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions as mental clarity can affect our cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory.
Australian psychologist Alan Richardson conducted an experiment. He took three groups of students for a 20-day basketball experiment. Group one we’re told to practice free throws each day for the next 20 days. The second group was asked to practice free throws on day 1 and day 20 and practice 20 minutes of positive visualization for the remaining days. Group three was asked to practice free throws on day 1 and day 20.
On the 20th day, Group 1 which practiced free throw improved the free-throw completion rate by 24%. Group 3 showed no improvement. Astonishingly, Group 2 who didn’t officially practice improved, successful free throws by 23%, almost the same as the group that practiced every day.
Using Positive mental imagery isn’t something fanciful. It has also been used by NASA for years called as a Visual Motor Rehearsal before psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley implemented it in America’s Olympic Program during the 1980s. He explains “Using this technique, Olympic athletes ran their event – but only in their mind. They visualized how they looked and felt when they were actually participating in their event. The athletes were then hooked up to a sophisticated biofeedback machine and its results told the real story about the value of visualization. The same muscles fired in the same sequence as when they were actually running on the track! This proved that the mind can’t tell the difference between whether you’re really doing something or whether it’s just a practice. If you’ve been there in the mind you’ll go there in the body.”
And, You will be able to take care of your mental health in a better way!!!
Practice Positive Affirmations
You might have seen self-help books promoting the idea of positive affirmations. If you haven’t practiced it, this idea of praising yourself might seem weird, especially in a world that feeds on making you feel bad.
Positive affirmations are nothing but positive phrases or statements that you repeat to yourself. These statements can be used to challenge your negative or unhelpful thoughts. You can choose your affirmations and can utilize them to motivate yourself and increase your self-esteem. When you find yourself caught up in a web of negative thoughts, replace them with positive thoughts. Remember, you can always choose which thought to focus on.
Research conducted by Emily B. Falk and colleagues on the self-affirmation theory, published in the year 2015 stated that practicing positive self-affirmations activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (associated with positive valuation and self-related information processing) when it comes to our personal values. It concluded that practicing positive affirmations can help us to view otherwise threatening information as more relevant and valuable.
Push beyond your comfort zone
You are not happy where you are. You feel stuck with your old habits, but you still can’t figure out why you just can’t get out of this zone. Well, the answer is though you hate it you have grown comfortable with it. You necessarily don’t like the comfort it provides you, rather you are trying to avoid the discomfort you will feel on entering uncharted territories because any type of change is scary. So you feel it’s easier to just sit where you are.
If you really want to take care of your mental health faculty will push yourself out of this zone you have created for yourself- Your Comfort Zone. This zone might keep you comfortable, but it’s keeping you stagnant. It’s basically sending you into lockdown. Having seen the crippling effects of lockdown in recent times you seriously don’t want that.
To identify the activities you do in your comfort zone and make minute but significant changes in that. Let’s say you are comfortable sleeping on the right side of the bed, sleep on the left side the next day, or maybe if you stay up all night, decide to sleep early and get up early the next day. Make these small changes every day and slowly you will be comfortable with pushing your comfort zone in daunting areas of your life.
As you enter into this unlock mode, gradually you will get back to your everyday routine and all of these might just fall off your list. So start small. Take anyone to advice from this article and do your own research on it and incorporate it into your routine. When that becomes a part of your routine, incorporate the next one if you want. Throughout all of this remember to keep it simple. Growth doesn’t need to be complicated and drastic; it just needs to be simple and consistent. So, Follow these simple steps to take care of your mental health.
Stay Consistent. Unlock Yourself.