Take Charge of your mental health

Take charge of your mental health Series

As we celebrate the World Mental Health Day this year on the theme of psychological mental health first aid for all; we realize how important is self-care as a step towards promoting mental health as well as recovering from a mental health problem In the next 5 months, we will introduce you to five such skills/habits that can strengthen your inner self and help you in taking good care of yourself.

Taking charge of mental health does not just mean doing things that help you get better when you have a mental health problem. Taking charge of mental health means doing little things on a regular basis that help you to develop/strengthen skills and habits to deal better with day-to day challenges in your life.

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One such skill /habit that is worth cultivating for taking charge of your mental health: Spending time with yourself on a regular basis and being your good friend.

These are the times when connections are considered vital and all of us seem to be busy trying to stay connected to others and stay in touch with all the information we are bombarded with – be it on the Facebook, WhatsApp or twitter or our email inbox. In this rush, we at times forget to stay in touch with ourselves and develop a friendship with ourselves. Being your good friend does not mean ignoring your friendship with others. We need a friend inside us as well as friends outside of us. In fact, developing a healthy friendship with ourselves can be of great help in   connecting better with the world outside us.

So try this out:

Once a week, fix an appointment with yourself, may be for an hour. An appointment means a dedicated time to be with yourself- to reflect, to play and to talk to yourself and of course to listen to yourself! A dedicate time means getting away from distractions that constantly preoccupy you- be it the phone, the mobile or the internet. Choose to sit down quietly with yourself, like a compassionate, affectionate and wise friend- or a take a long walk with yourself, if you prefer to do that. Ask yourself some honest questions and take time to respond to those questions. If it helps, jot down those conversations you make with yourself.

A few questions to ask yourself: How am I feeling? What are the little good things that happened this week or the things that did not go very wrong? What are the things that did not go well this week? What are the three to five most important areas of my life currently?   What can I do next to take care about each of these areas? Can I reach out to sources of help that may be available but I am not using? Are there little things that I can do differently or little ways I can look at things differently that might help? Am I guiding myself by looking at what would be helpful in the long run or merely looking at what gives me quick relief though it is harmful to me over time? What are the three small and specific things I can do /keep doing that might help?

A few tips on responding to yourself: Be gentle with yourself .Acknowledge your emotions and not shy away from them. Acknowledging emotions does not mean sinking or drowning in them. It merely means accepting them as normal aspects of being human like everyone else and providing you information about your inner world and then choosing what you want to do about them at a given point of time in a given context. Adopt a comforting and soothing style like a good friend to soothe yourself and calm yourself. Remember, your good friend not just listens to you and comforts you but also gently helps you gain mental clarity, see things in a new light /see the bigger picture, motivates you to work on your weaknesses and apply your strengths, inspires you to move ahead and also gives you a pat on your back for making efforts despite all the difficulties. Be that friend for yourself.

So take out time regularly to have that honest, soothing, clarifying and motivating chat with yourself. Please give time to your inner friend too- it is worth your time!