All those who’ve been with me on Instagram over the last 2 months know that I plan to focus on mental as well as physical fitness, starting this year. As promised, here I am with my two bits on mental health. I have so much to share with you, but I am not sure where to start from. Learning how to disconnect and tune into some ME-TIME is what I think works for starters, I plan to document my experience with mediation, yoga, social media and trolls, and a lot more later. Do feel free to write in if you want me to address certain topics, I’d be glad to do that.
Before I start, I’d like to give some context to this article. I’ve been focusing a lot on disconnecting from the internet. Being a blogger and a digital content writer, this gets difficult. We live in a world which functions on the “out of sight, out of mind” principle, so striking a balance between the offline and online world gets extremely difficult for someone who has to spend 12 hours online. I honestly envy those who can stay sane while living a life on the internet. I aim to get there, and the first step in preparing myself for this was accepting that I did need this time out. Signs? I was getting way too jumpy and anxious and stressed for no reason, I’d check my social media notifications every 2 minutes, I’d be affected by troll comments and sly tweets, I’d even DREAM about social media on stressful days (rolled my eyes so hard on this one I almost saw the back of my head) Anyhoo, you get the point. I was a mess, and I realised it was because I was living a virtual life and nothing in the real world was calming me down. After a few weeks of turning off social media notifications and taking out time for myself, my loved ones and family, and being grateful every single day, I’ve come to a point where the online hate doesn’t matter anymore. Of course praise and encouragement are always welcome, but I know where to draw the line when it comes to seeking validation. It’s helped me calm down, helped me control my negative thoughts and the hatred, and being grateful has suddenly made the world a better place. If you too feel you need some change, or need to disconnect from the internet, or just need some me-time(which I think everyone needs), I could help out with a few things that worked for me. Give these a try, and feel free to send in recommendations :)
Turn off notifications
Seriously, switching off my WhatsApp notifications was the best thing that ever happened to me. I then went ahead and switched them off for all my social media accounts. The automatic de-cluttering that followed was one of the best feelings in the world, like floating on a water bed in a bright blue pool with a glass of orange juice and nothing to disturb you all day. It was BEAUTIFUL.
Limit your time on social media
This might need a lot of effort in the beginning, because what do we do as soon as we see our phones? Or when we’re waiting for someone to pick us up? Or when there’s an awkward situation that we need to get out of? Or when we need to avoid making eye contact? We check our phones of course! Well, keep it away, keep it in the bag instead of holding it in your hand. Keep it on silent maybe. Avoid using your cell phone when you’re out with friends. I personally found myself at peace when I realised I didn’t have to post everything about the party on my social media, and that also brought about the understanding that I did not really need this validation. I keep my phone away at parties now, and sometimes even out of reach of others (in case someone decides to snap those embarrassing moments I seem to have too many of) If possible, clock down the hours you spent on social media in a diary. I personally went from 12 hours a day to 2, and maintained this for 3 weeks. Today, I can easily go without social media if needed, and I check my profiles 2-4 times a day. Once again, it’s extremely therapeutic.
Spend time with family
When was the last time you had a meal together? When was the last time you took them out shopping, or discussed your life with them? Spend mealtimes with them, as often as you can. Call them up if you’re not staying with them, talk to them and share your life with them. You can never be grateful enough to them, so just try being there for them, you know. For the sake of your sanity, because nothing solves a problem like the comfort of a loving, supportive family.
Spend time with friends
Not to be confused with spending time with family. This is about finding out who your real friends are, those who you WANT to meet. Take out time to meet your friends, to have real conversations and talk about things that matter to you. Share your dreams and hopes, fears and failures. Spend time with people who make you happy, and you’ll soon realise that there are some who you do not want to waste your energy on. Go ahead, disconnect if you think that’s making you happy. Distancing some people from my life was a little awkward and painful, but I am at a much better place now, knowing I do not have “friends” who want to bring me down.
Exercising isn’t only about building muscles, it’s about being FIT and HEALTHY. This includes both mental and physical fitness, and it’s a proven fact that exercise helps improve mood, and boosts brain health and productivity. Taking out time daily to exercise is like taking out time to connect with your body, and noticing what makes you feel good and happy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the gym, you can go running, or cycling, swimming, or dancing; as long as you’re enjoying doing this particular thing, you’re doing fine! Take time out to be happy!
Stay hydrated, eat well
If you do not want lethargy to get the better of you, stay hydrated :) I also started maintaining a food journal, and slowly started realizing how certain foods make me feel. This has been a new addition to my mental care regime, so I am still learning the affect food has on my moods, but I can tell you for sure that PROCESSED SUGAR IS SO SO SO BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH! It makes you cranky, leaves you tired, affects your sleep cycle, isn’t good for your physical health, and in general is a really harmful addition to your lifestyle. I have tried to go without any processed sugars for days, and it’s an easy task if you do it slowly. Don’t binge all week and realise you need to change and expect this change to happen overnight, nope. You need to cut out processed sugar EXTREMELY slowly.
Also, the best diet is “eat ghar ka khana without any processed sugars diet” That’s the only diet tip that I can help you with.
Seriously, sleep! I made the mistake of sacrificing my sleep, and it resulted in stress and physical injuries. Sleep makes everything better, it really does! Also, wake up REALLLLLY slowly, and the best way to do that is to make sure you’re getting 6-8hours of sleep. Waking up with a start can cause mood swings which result in stress in the long run. Wake up with enough time to get ready, have a fresh start to the day.
I plan to share more about this in the near future. All I’d like to say right now is that I recommend you try this out. You can either opt for a guided meditation class, or sit down by yourself in a quiet, calm place and focus on breathing. 15 minutes. That’s all that you need to feel rejuvenated daily.
Learn to say “no” to added stress
We are made to feel guilty for not feeling stressed enough, which I feel is a cause of concern. I am not stressed about my job, does that mean I am not working enough? I am not stressed about my Instagram numbers, does that mean I do not take my blogging seriously? I am not stressed because I am not overworked, maybe I need to take up more work. NO, NO and NO! Focus on saying NO when needed, and more often that not your intuition will tell you when to refuse an offer. DO IT!
Make to-do lists, read/write/colour/draw/sing/play, do whatever it is that makes you happy, keep a gratitude journal, eat right, and stay happy. You can always reach out to me to discuss this further, but I can assure you that taking simple steps like these will change your life for the better.