We all know how to be proactively preventive about diabetics, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and the like, or vaccination dependent ones like polio, smallpox, and the like.
Apart from telling people to do Yoga and meditation, do we know any other habitual self-help regime that proactively improves mind fitness and emotional hygiene? So that we reduce the risk of complications in mental health?
Here is a simple regime that you may want to consider:
The mind is like software:
Yes, there are some mental health issues that can be termed as a disease in the sense, their origin and cause is in the genetics or in the biological degradation of neurons and their connections.
And some mental health issues, even if it is not of a biological origin may impact the underlying biology if it persists for a long period of time without being addressed.
However, mental fitness and emotional hygiene that we are talking about in this article is primarily about the software that is running on our brain.
Any habitual preventive self-help regime that you set up for yourself, is like another piece of software that monitors the rest of the software.
4 Vital Stats and 4 Exercise Steps
Vital Stat 1
Can you hold an uncomfortable question in your mind that has no immediate answer, but you simply acknowledge that – Like – “Here is a question that makes me uncomfortable, but I don’t have an answer for it and I don’t even know why it makes me uncomfortable”. Can you hold that question for a long time without resolution, as an item in a list of similar questions?
Just to clarify, the more such questions you can hold like that, the more healthy is Vital Stat 1. Yes. I repeat. It is a sign of better mental health.
Vital Stat 2
Do you feel (sufficiently) connected to people in your lives? (at least a few of them). If not, you need to flag this as a question and add to the VS1 list – and then resist the temptation to artificially fake those connections.
Vital Stat 3
Can you cry in private? The more pertinent question is, can you embrace brief moments of intense pain and let them heal you, instead of rushing them under the carpet?
Vital Stat 4
Are you able to periodically reflect inwards and check the above 3 Vital Stats?. If you are not doing the above checks at least once a week or avoid doing it in the pretext of being busy, then buck-up. It is like discovering you are not able to bend and touch your toe. You have some work-outs to do.
Role of Friends and Loved Ones
If you see one or more of the above 4 vital stats going down, become cautious. Try and do the practices /exercises / work-outs, given below to bring them back in. Friends and Loved ones, can play an important role in this process.
The beauty of this regime is that you can talk about the above 4 Vital Stats, with your loved ones or close friends, without any stigma associated with Mental Health issues. Because these Vital Stats are in the category of fitness and hygiene, and more commonly classified under the category of “Self-Development”. People will feel proud of you for involving them in your growth.
And you will be surprised, how much a bit of love and friendship can add to the courage and discipline required for the process.
At least once a week and preferably every day, reflect on the emotions that you went through. If they add to a long list of un-answered uncomfortable questions, it is good, because the Vital Stat 1 is improving.
Identify relationships that, according to you, ought to have some better connection than what it is today. According to you, because everyone will have to decide which of their important relationships that they want to take up for this exercise. Even though it is a mystery to you, why the connection is inadequate or lacking, just acknowledge it. This adds to the strength of your VS2 as well as VS1.
When you find/discover some truth that is painful, plunge into it, experience the pain and discharge it – in private of-course. Let it heal you. No need to involve others in this drama as long as you are brutally honest with yourself. This increases your VS3 score. This is also the exercise that removes pending items from your VS1 and VS2 list and keeps it pruned.
And finally watching your emotions in your day to day life (both negative and positive) during the exact moments of their interference – not end of the day or end of the week. File them for later work as per exercises 1, 2, and 3.
The fourth one is an art. It is as easy or as difficult as learning classical music or classical dance. Anyone can start it. Only a few can master it. It all depends on your daily sadhana (practice).
If you follow this 1 to 4 fitness regime and monitor your Vital Stats 1 to 4, you would have taken all the necessary precautions. In spite of all this, life may throw you some googlies, and there is still a remote possibility that you may get to a point where you need professional help. It is no more shameful than taking an antibiotic for a bacterial infection or a rabies injection for a dog bite.
No matter how good you are in swimming, if you are caught in a whirlpool that is taking you down, you have to flap your hands and shout help.
The above regime is not a substitute for professional help. Like all preventive regimes, it makes you sufficiently self-aware so that you seek help in time, if and when it becomes necessary.
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