Mental health: things that have helped

I’m writing this both as a reminder to myself, and also to help others that go through the same questions around life and living it.

I’m 40 now. I feel I have little time to waste, less so than earlier. At the same time, I look at the stretch of time that seems to lie ahead of me, and sometimes it can feel unbearably long. I might not survive it, I might not want to. At least it feels that way sometimes.

Since turning 40, however, I’ve come to think it’s better not to wonder too long about the question of ‘To be, or not to be’. I’m going to go with living, it also happens to be the more recommended choice.

The next thing is to make this choice easier on myself. Here are a few things that seem to work:

  1. Exercise.
    Yes, really, exercise is actually the answer to mental agony. Please have a workout before you try to argue this point. I wish, I really wish, I had not been that person on the couch intellectualising my way out of exercise and into a depression so often. And sometimes, yes, I wish exercising wasn’t so hard. But it is in fact a truly easy and simple way to happiness, and I wish I had discovered it long ago.
  2. Do the things that bring you joy.
    Please do not deprive yourself of anything that brings you joy. For me, dancing and being with friends are big, big highs. Rather than leave these things to chance, plan these into your week ahead of time. And yes, did I mention I was 40? So there are times I feel too old to go dancing but oh well, I will still shake a leg while I’m alive and kicking.
  3. Anuloma-viloma.
    A friend has insisted that I try the yoga practice of alternate nostril breathing: anuloma-viloma. While I have only tried this a few times, I already know that it is something I can reach out to in times of anxiety or when I am overwhelmed. It is difficult to breathe in those times – just like it is difficult to exercise when you are pondering the point of life – but once again, paying attention to the body, its breath, are counter-intuitive ways of soothing the spirit.
  4. Nourish yourself.
    Feed yourself good food. Learn to cook for yourself. Start by learning to cook your favourite dish. Give yourself the nutrition that you need. Learn about foods that make you happy. I need foods that are high in serotonin, so I’ve found that having foods that are naturally sweet: mangoes, bananas, dates, jaggery are all good for my mind. What food works for you?

Please do share your ideas on ways you’ve learned to keep yourself healthy and happy!

About CK

i sleep, i wake, i write chitra[dot]kalyani[at]gmail[dot]com
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