Sunday, September 10, 2006

Unpublished Article - Mental Hygiene

“Mental Hygiene”

Bet you are all about fitness and health. Working out and exercising -- aiming for or maintaining a toned, fit body. It is all about your body: its BMI, measuring skin-folds and converting fat to muscle. Great! Some of the good things you do to your body make their way up there to your mind –Increased agility of mind, concentration, alertness and so on. Conversely, whatever goes through your mind shows on your body. Umm…bad mood, anyone? It will even be apparent in the way you walk. Heavy steps, jerky movement or a disquietingly placid exterior – Dead Calm. The simmering mood hides inside! That can’t be good.

What caused the bad mood? It could have been a fight with a (currently-opposite-of-) loved one, or the imbecile auto-rickshaw who scraped the side of your car and jauntily pushed off, or an irritant colleague’s chirpy phone call that rudely interrupted your morning caffeine-kick -- Anything that threw your mind off–balance. Irrespective of what causes the bad mood, it is there for you to deal with. After all, is it not a little too easy to lose your temper? The repercussions on the other hand, are so-not-easy to deal with.

An “I am so sorry” card used to be popular. On the inside, it read, “You know how temperamental I am…90% temper and 10% mental!” All of us are “mental” in some way or the other. To put it kindly, it means we each have our own idiosyncrasies. However, if our idiosyncrasies include moodiness and short tempers, it can lead to offshoots like frustration, depression, “friendlessness”, hysteria and worse… not necessarily in that order, so it is time we cleaned up our acts. As geared up as we are to work out, lose weight and get healthy, these are bodily aspects and the mind may feel left out! It needs relaxation; which few of us have learned to do – Relax. It is no wonder that there are so many relaxation techniques, books, CDs and lectures galore out there to help people relax!

Any relaxation “technique” or exercise needs practice and patience the latter of which is the lacking element in the first instance! So, we may as well try to accomplish this by ourselves first instead of spending good money on outside factors to do it for us! Try listening to old, bring-on-the-nostalgia songs, or indulging in any activity that you love; be it cooking, baking, watching a favourite sitcom, going for an evening stroll, having a long chat with a friend or…absolutely anything that gives instant, easy pleasure and that does not have any value-add except that it makes you smile a bit! Take a break that you like.

Ever notice how your whole body tenses up when you frown? It is an unexpected by-product of a frown. Now smile – you automatically tend to breathe a bit slower and your body smiles with you. Observe that when nobody is watching! It can be fun.

If you cannot afford to take time off your schedule to do what you would ideally like to, then how about a “one-to-one” chat with yourself? Talk yourself not to the brink of insanity obviously, where you will end up talking only to yourself (!), but…give yourself pep talks and words of encouragement that only you will be able to hear – a true monologue! It is really quite relaxing and motivating...Sometimes, silly things that you can say to yourself will make you smile. Which is what we are trying to achieve – a smile is reflective of your mental good health. Mona Lisa, here we come!

Bottom line: Mind your mind… you cannot afford to lose it!


Sujata Tarakesan.

Thought for the month: -

The mouth may do the extra munching,
But the stomach ends up with all the crunching!
The more you sit down and munch,
The more you gotta sit-up and crunch!

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