As we gear up to celebrate another World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2011, there are global talks and discussions on causes and treatments for various mental, psychological, behavioral and neurological disorders. Policies are being thought over to help end the centuries’ old stigma towards mental illnesses. In this huge and much needed effort, we are forgetting something really important. Mental health is not limited to a mere absence of disease; it is much more than that. You may not have any mental disorder but still lack mental health. Mental health is an inner state of psychological bliss and well-being. On the world mental health day, 2011 let us adopt five talismans which guarantee a lifetime of mental health.
Expert inputs by Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalytical Therapist at VIMHANS Hospital, Delhi:
- De-Stress: Stress is a pervasive reality of our life and a big precipitating cause of psychological, behavioral and mental illnesses. People ruminate and panic over work deadlines, household chores, home loans, children’s studies, gym schedules, weekend and holiday plans. We are always running after deadlines in all spheres of our life. A sound way to attain mental health is to de-stress. You need to have a time slot everyday in which when you can just laze around and waste time the way you wish to, without any guilt.
- Self-Growth: We are attuned to think of growth in terms of a successful career, luxury cars, bank balance and social acclaim. Sadly, all this may never bring inner fulfillment. In my psychological work, I have discovered that it is important to get in touch with your core self and find out what does it really value. Once you figure that out, find ways to fulfill it even as you continue to live and function in the mainstream. How many of us have completely forgotten those childhood dreams of being a creative writer, actor, guitarist, classical dancer, cricketer and wrestler? It is time to pursue some of those old dreams with vigor and be mentally healthy.
- Cultivate Relationships: A few long-term stable relationships where you can be yourself to the core, express your deepest vulnerabilities and emotions, be loved and accepted for who you are and reciprocate in a similar manner towards the other person are crucial. Building and holding on to a close reciprocal relationship is the best way to attain mental health. Mental, psychological and behavioral disorders are often caused by failed relational needs.
- Face Negativity: You may have been told a hundred times to distract yourself from negative and painful thoughts, to smile when you wish to mourn. Just do away with this advice. I have seen this advice ruining mental health for many people. Negative and painful emotions are an important part of us, we need to face and embrace them otherwise they continue to haunt us by causing various psychological and behavioral disorders.
- Consult a Psychologist: In case you ever feel anxious, depressed or confused and are unable to handle things on your own do not hesitate in consulting an expert. In my experience people lose out on their mental health not because they have a problem but because they continue to deny it. It is absolutely human to have a psychological, behavioral or mental problem. Expert guidance from a psychologist can nip the problem in the bud and save you the agony of mental illness.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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