"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light." - Albus Dumbledore.
Since the onset of COVID in 2019 that put the world on hold, the quarantine experience has conspicuously declined our mental health to some degree. Something we have in common, something we have felt in these two years, is the feeling of being alone and turned to a corner. As per the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the Government of India, the young generation forms 34.33% of the total population. Studies conducted so far in the pandemic have shown that the younger generation is more vulnerable to psychological disturbances due to their lack of social interactions.
Mentally well means being emotionally, psychologically, and socially well but does it also, well, mean finding happiness? Yes, but also no, because happiness is subjective and perspective differs from person to person. When it comes to mental health, happiness may not be the outcome but rather a path of light while seeking self-acceptance, a by-product of your diligence.
Acknowledge struggles and challenges that you face as part of a shared human experience. We chase after the meaning of life, we want to be loved and be “good enough”. It can be very comforting to be reminded that you are not the only one and you learn to accept yourself for that. Every one of us is different, and not everyone might accept you, but you can always learn to accept yourself.
Self-acceptance is a part of mental health too. Prioritizing self-acceptance is strenuous; one has to identify themselves; understand their weakness, and face reality. It’s easier said than done, but the best way to start is by forgiving yourself and applauding your abilities. It’s easy to be your own worst critic and listen to your negative thoughts. But when you feel self-criticism coming on, you can try to put it on hold, take a step back, and think about what you would tell a friend who is in the same situation. Without loving yourself, without prioritizing yourself, one can never gain happiness; it can only be seen as a mirage.
It is okay to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed during the pandemic, especially if you have experienced trauma or emotional instability in the past. If you are shielding yourself from a long-term mental health condition, like anxiety, it may result in emotions coming out in the form of anger or fear as an effect of the outbreak. We need to dig deeper and understand what we are feeling and why we are feeling it, and also to find a way to tackle it.
Communication is the foundation of mental health recovery. Communication does not mean you will find answers to your problems. It rather provides a sense of comfort and that is what we might be missing. If you are depressed or feel like you cannot find a place for yourself in this world, communicate your thoughts with one another; this will help ease your mind.
Due to the pandemic, our interpersonal communication has been disrupted. The isolation was not just physical but mental too. We all had a hard time expressing ourselves to others in the pandemic. Even though we face-timed with our friends, we missed their faces and quirks. Interpersonal communication helps us in many ways, such as alleviating stress. If you surround yourself with positivity, it will increase your mental wellness to a great extent and help heal your state of mind. Although we have different modes of communication, many feel an obvious mentally expanding gap in interacting with people. Yes, it takes effort and courage to open up but it is possible to try your best and reach out when you need help.
Climbing mountains and catching your breath while drowning are challenges that can be part of your life. Life can be an arduous journey, filled with such challenges and formidable hurdles which you must overcome to succeed. When difficulties get to our heads and prevent us from helping ourselves break free from the mental pressure, we need to turn to others for support. While seeking professional help is the best you can do for yourself, if you don’t have access to it due to whatever reason, you can always try talking it out with people you trust. Everyone has their way of dealing with problems. Find what works for you and stick to it. If you are not comfortable talking to family or friends about your issues, talk to a psychiatrist. It might feel awkward at first, but things do get better. Trust the process. Always.
It is crucial to acknowledge these feelings and remind ourselves to be mindful about both our physical and mental health, equally. Moreover, we should also be aware and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term such as smoking, drinking, and overeating. Be conscious of your body; practice a healthy routine and try to maintain a balanced diet. Importantly, get enough rest and sleep.
Never think you are alone. Everyone has gone through mental health issues at a certain point in their life, and there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Remember, the most valuable person in your life is you. Push yourself to achieve more inner comfort. Fight with all your will to ease your mind. Fight for the happiness that awaits. Nobody is perfect, but we all do our best. If something goes wrong, do not beat yourself up over it, do not forget that you still have a lot of things going on in your life. Embrace this life and love yourself more than ever. Wishing you a mindful World Mental health day!