The Global Mental Health Day that is observed on the 10th November each year with the objective of raising the awareness & importance of mental health issues around the world, did create ripples and waves all over as the topic is now being looked upon as something that is of extreme importance and not to be shied away from.
Especially now that people have been floundering with the current situation that shook the world quite unexpectedly, and what seemed like a passing storm has continued to linger on showing no signs of leaving just yet or anytime soon either. The past few months have been awfully abysmal for many, with individuals having to deal with catastrophes & cataclysms both at the work and home front. Even though things may have not been too dismal for others, it certainly was far from the normal.
Confinement & restriction though implemented with the idea for our own safety & protection, can be gloomy even for the strongest of individuals. With young wailing children and ailing elders at home, it made matters even more grim for adults trying to cope their best to handle it all with grace. Work from home did not make it any better leading to a dramatic rise in cases of anxiety, overwhelm, depression, confusion, mental fog and fatigue.
As the world is being forced to move to a new manner of living; people are doing their best to adapt to the changes that were brought in, and organizations are doing all they can to comfort & support their employees through online webinars & sessions on various topics. Many support groups have sprung up that talk on issues related to well-being, and experts have willingly volunteered to share their knowledge in an attempt to make a difference to the community.
We are finally emerging in a new avatar… more aware, more conscientious, more responsible towards ourselves, towards others and the world we live in.
As someone who has been active in this space for a long time now and having had several online sessions speaking on the subject, the term ‘mental health’, in my opinion, deviates from my understanding and approach to holistic wellness. Whilst the underlying concept of mental health refers to the ‘absence of disorder’ of any kind in the way people think, feel and behave, for me ‘mental’ is just one facet of the many dimensions that make us up.
When I hear the word ‘mental’, it immediately conjures up an image of the brain and all the activity that takes place within it. Whilst the brain is an important organ, I still do not want to restrict myself to thinking that this is all that matters, for it is now that I understand that we are multi-dimensional beings and there are so many aspects we embody that make us up. I would rather bring my attention individually to all of those aspects rather than club them under one such facet.
Mental Health is undeniably important and is a component of ‘Holistic Wellness’ that I am a proponent of. Our inherent quality is that of wellness, wholeness and of balance. Even though we have our own individuality & are unique beings in our own distinctive ways, fundamentally we are a tiny-tiny dot in this universal matrix that we are a part of, that is so well balanced & well structured. Can we then be any different?
What I follow now is the ‘Four Bodies of our Self’ model which is a complete roadmap to our wellbeing, encompassing our physical, emotional, mental & spiritual (energetic) health.
These four bodies are interdependent and work together to give us a complete sense of wellbeing. These four bodies must also be balanced equally to maintain the equilibrium that gives us the poise & calm we so desire at all times. This is after all our natural state of being.
When one achieves it, then life gets into a pleasant flow of happiness & prosperity. When any one or more of the bodies is misused or unheeded, then it throws the others off-balance leading us to feel indisposed & out of sync with ourselves and everything around us.
While we speak of wellness that is holistic, all-inclusive and all-encompassing; when one finds that any aspect is off the hook, then one needs to apply the notion of ‘reductionism’, which is literally at the other end of the continuum. What it entails is to look at the issue as minutely and deeply as possible so as to get to the root cause of what’s causing the imbalance. A regular mindful check-in time to time helps to keep us feeling healthy & glowing in mind, body and the spirit.
There will be highs and lows, ups and downs as we go through life; but when one sets foot on the path of mindful wholesome living, then life becomes delightful to the very core and each day becomes worth its while.
Shagufta Patel can be reached at [email protected]