Protect Your Mental Health and Improve The Quality Of Your Life

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“A lot of people are living with mental illness around them. Either you love one or you are one.” – Mark Ruffalo

There is no denying the fact, that globally mental health issues have been steadily on the rise. According to the WHO – World Health Organization, Depression is expected to be the second leading cause of disease, by 2020.

Why Is It Important To Have Good Mental Health

Mental Health includes your emotional and social well being and that in turn impacts how you think, feel and behave. Mental Health also indicates how you interact with others, manage relationships and take decisions.

When you are free of mental health issues, you could live life to the fullest. On the contrary, when you are ailing with psychological problems, you not only suffer emotionally, but also are at higher risk of physical illness.

The Mental Health Foundation Has Reported That :

  • Depression has been linked to 67% increased risk of death from heart disease and 50% increased risk of death from cancer.
  • Schizophrenia is associated with double the risk of death from heart disease and three times the risk of death from respiratory disease.

Therefore, no prizes for guessing that caring for your mental health, is crucial for your overall well being.

5 Strategies To Nurture Your Mental Well Being and Improve The Quality Of Your Life

1. Practicing Forgiveness 

“The weak can never forgiveForgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Hanging on to resentments, can eat away your joy and peace of mind. Practicing forgiveness helps you move forward, by letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment.

Tip – Understand that Forgiving does not equal Excusing, and forgiving does not mean forgetting what had happened. That stated, in your own best interest, release the limiting emotions and move forward in life.

2. Making Self Esteem A Priority

“Value yourself. The only people who appreciate a doormat are people with dirty shoes.” – Leo Buscaglia

Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Stop being overly critical about yourself. Channelize your self critique in a positive manner and invest into developing yourself further.

Tip – Make time for your interests, reconnect with an old hobby or pick up a new one, invest in continued education / personal development and remember to appreciate your efforts, along the way.

3. Letting Go Of Regret

“Surrender to what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti

At certain points in our lives, we all have experienced the sharp stings of regret.

Example –

  1. Maybe you did something that was wrong, and now you could be wishing, that it should have never happened.
  2. You are unable to change the outcome, of what you had caused.

Tip – Realize that whatever happened is in the past, and the past cannot be changed. Take a step forward, by becoming clear about your existing morals and values, and build further on them, in a positive manner.

4. Overcoming Stressors

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

stressor is anything that causes the release of stress hormones. On a daily basis, we go through experiences; some of these activate the stress response within us.

Some Examples Of Stressors (Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory) :

  • Death of spouse or close friend / family member
  • Divorce
  • Troubles with the boss
  • Being fired at work
  • Major change in sleeping habits
  • Going into starvation mode or binge eating
  • Sudden change in physical activity (too less or too much)

Tip – While the situation might not be in your control, you can still choose how to react to it. By clarifying / re-aligning goals, practicing self regulation, developing healthier habits and maintaining a more positive outlook, you would be in a better position to overcome the stressors.

5. Staying In Touch

“Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.” – Barbara Bush

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Stay in touch with your dear ones, in a proactive manner. Meet supportive family members and friends, or explore social activities that could help you meet new people.

Tip – Choose activities that complement your interests. If you are interested in dancing, join a class or if you enjoy helping others, volunteer for a cause that you believe in.

Seeking Professional Help – If you have made consistent efforts to improve your emotional health, but are not able to function optimally on your own, do consider seeking professional help. Following the mentioned strategies, would be helpful nonetheless.

Remember – We owe it to ourselves to nurture our mental and physical health. By making the right choices, pursuing constructive interests and staying connected with positive people, you would be surely able to protect your mental health and improve the quality of your life.

Source :

WHO – World Health Organization

http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/wfmh_paper_depression_wmhd_2012.pdf

Mental Health Foundation

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale

This article was originally published on LinkedIn, on 14 March 2017

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/protect-your-mental-health-improve-quality-life-visha-bhayee

 

 

 

 

Embracing Positive Self-Talk and Why It Is Worth It

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Sitting on your shoulders, is the most complex object known in the universe.

A bundle of approximately 100 billion neurons, the human brain is the “Command Center” of our body.

The very world around us has been shaped by human thoughts. It is this brilliant thinking process that has given birth to science, technology and much more.

Today, artificial prosthetic limbs are being moved with precision, through sheer mind control. In Feb 2016, bio-medical engineers from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, reported the first successful effort to wiggle fingers individually and independently of each other. This spectacular achievement was made using a mind-controlled artificial “arm” to control the movement.

What this example shows us is that, if we seek positive change , it cannot be achieved without first changing the way we think.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford

What is Self-Talk?

Intrapersonal communication or Self-Talk as it is called by psychologists, is the type of communication which takes place within a single person. The purpose of this inner dialogue, is for clarifying ideas or analyzing situations. Self-Talk also enables us to reflect and appreciate. It also has a great impact on our confidence.

Similar to interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication also is positive, negative or neutral.

A human brain is said to have approximately 50,000 thoughts in a single day. While positive self-talk is empowering, negative self talk can pull us down, eventually resulting in chronic stress and even put us at risk for mental and physical illness.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” M. K. Gandhi

 Examples of Negative Self – Talk

  • I am a loser
  • Nobody loves me
  • I am ugly
  • I am worthless to the core
  • Everybody is better than me
  • I am always unlucky
  • I was born to suffer

Strategies To Help You Embrace Positive Self-Talk

1. Self Assessment

  • A great way to move away from negative self talk is to first identify it. So, the next time you find yourself doing some negative self talking, stop yourself and analyze your action.
  • Take a step back and begin assessing your thoughts. Question yourself about the authenticity of the things you’ve been telling yourself.

Examples of questions to help you analyze your thoughts

  • What is the nature of my self-talk?
  • Is my self-talk more negative than positive?
  • What are the triggers that set me thinking negatively? Does this happen when I compare myself to someone, or does it begin when somebody speaks to me in a certain manner?
  • Am I over reacting and is this really that big a deal, as I am making it out to be?
  • How has negative self-talking helped me so far?
  • Am I being overly harsh on myself?

2. Choosing Positive Self-Talk – Yes, it is a choice!

It is essential to remember the brilliance of the human mind and it’s capacity for choice and evolution.

The book “The Power of Neuroplasticity” by Dr. Helmstetter, brings neuroscience, consciousness, and personal growth together, and presents the scientific research that proves the human brain is designed to be physically rewired, throughout our lifetimes, based on the messages we give ourselves and receive from the world around us.

Positive self-talk comes more naturally to some of us; others can learn how to cultivate positive thinking and keep negative thoughts away.

To learn a new approach towards self-talk, re-word your negative self-talk, infusing positivity in your way of thinking.

Example 1

“I am a sore loser. It is impossible for me to find a better job”

Alternative – “Finding a new job can take some time. I shall polish my skills, widen my job search and surely I will find something better soon”

Example 2

“My partner dumped me. I can never get over it”

Alternative – “The end of a relationship, does not mean it’s the end of life. I will overcome this and move forward”

3. Treating Yourself With Respect

Self respect is essential for a positive self image. Negative self talk has a lot to do with constantly berating and demeaning ourselves. Positive self-talk cannot exist, if you do not respect yourself.

Let’s not mix up being disciplined with self harm / punishment. While discipline requires determination, there is clearly a huge difference between discipline and self harm. Anorexia and Bulimia are both examples of self damaging behaviors, which can lead to devastating outcomes.

An effective way of developing self respect is to enlist all your achievements, big, small and everything else in between. Next, intentionally think through the efforts and the sacrifices that you made, towards realizing those achievements. That itself shows how capable you are, indicating – if you have done it before, you can do it again!

Remember – Developing respect for yourself can take time and effort, however the outcome is well worth it. After all, what’s better than being your own trusted and respected best friend?

4. The Use Of Language In Positive Self-Talk

Research conducted by psychologist Ethan Kross – University of Michigan, describes the importance of language in self-talk. The report says that referring to yourself in non-first person perspective while self – talking, can help you step back and think more objectively about your response and emotions.

Example – Referring to yourself to as he / she, him / her instead of I / me

This psychological strategy called “self-distancing” can help us better control our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can also help decrease stress and anxiety.

5. Overcoming Self Doubt

While adapting to positive self-talk, do not fear if you tend to doubt your new choices. Self doubt is a normal reaction to uncertainty.

Remember – There is no default setting in the brain which is tuned only to negativity! Setbacks are temporary and shall surely pass.

Since you are already talking to yourself all day, why not make it more positive and reap the benefits.

 

Links:

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Moves Individual ‘Fingers’

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/mind_controlled_prosthetic_arm_moves_individual_fingers_

Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters

http://selfcontrol.psych.lsa.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/KrossJ_Pers_Soc_Psychol2014Self-talk_as_a_regulatory_mechanism_How_you_do_it_matters.pdf

The Power of Neuroplasticity

http://shadhelmstetter.com/books/

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 02/03/2017

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/embracing-positive-self-talk-why-worth-visha-bhayee?published=t

 

 

 

The Why and How of Becoming A Finer Person

namaste

Your life is Your Personal Journey, in which the destination is unknown.

But what is known to us, is that the way we conduct ourselves while on this journey, determines the quality of life itself. The choices we make and how we treat ourselves and others, significantly impacts our life experiences.

WHY/ Greatest benefit of becoming a Finer Person

There comes a time in every person’s life, when you begin wondering about the kind of person you are. This soul searching self evaluation, often leads to the path of self development.

By consistently working on yourself, you would be able to invite better life opportunities, situations and outcomes, leading to a more spectacular personal journey. Now, who would not want that?

Quoting Robin Sharma “A meaningful life is made up of a series of daily acts of decency and kindness, which, ironically, add up to something truly great over the course of a lifetime.”  

HOW / 5 Ways to becoming a Finer Person

1. Embracing Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness is defined as the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.

It is the initial step, in creating what you want and mastering your life. How and where you decide to focus your attention, emotions, reactions, personality and behavior determine what you could achieve in life.  

Self-awareness also helps you to motivate yourself and others, manage your stress better and live a more fulfilling life.

Some Examples of Self-Awareness :

  • Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Thinking before speaking.
  • Becoming more sensitive about your actions and the impact that those actions have, on the lives of others.

2. Choosing Optimism

Maintaining a positive mental framework, opens us up to new possibilities, promotes happiness, increases spiritual development and even lengthens life expectancy.

Researchers at Harvard University’s Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness have found that optimistic people have a lower chance of dying prematurely from stroke, heart disease and even cancer. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, quotes “optimism plays an important role in health and longevity.”

Some Examples of Optimism :

  • Practicing mindfulness.
  • Indulging in positive self talk and avoiding negative self talk.
  • Practicing forgiveness.
  • Identifying the positive aspects of life and being grateful for them.

3. Being Open To Change

Becoming a finer person entails change and experience has taught us that change is not easy. Recall our wonder years when we lost a whole set of milk teeth? It was uncomfortable and even painful! But then experience has also shown us, that change is necessary for better things to follow.

By keeping yourself open to change, you are able to welcome opportunities and experiences.

Some Examples of Openness to Change :

  • Taking up a new hobby.
  • Starting a project.
  • Welcoming feedback.
  • Investing in continued learning.

4. Choosing The Right Company

It is for a reason that they say “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

This is because emotions are contagious in nature. Similar to positivity, negativity too is contagious.

If we choose to stay around negative people constantly, then over a period of time, we also tend to pick up those debilitating traits.

Beware – Toxic relationships can sap your energy, dampen your spirit, demean your value, discredit your imagination and even jeopardize your image.

So, choose your company wisely and invest in relationships that are mutually nurturing.

Some Examples of choosing the Right Company :

  • Identifying well wishers and staying in touch with them
  • Spotting manipulation and avoiding it.
  • Not getting carried away by flattery.
  • Staying away from those indulging in selfish behaviors and harmful actions

5. Being Kind

The fear of being taken for granted, sometimes stops us from expressing kindness freely.

It is true that there are people out there who might manipulate you, cheat you and even hurt you. But that possibility exists, even if we decide not to be kind.

Kindness benefits the giver : As per research from Emory University, when you are kind towards another person, the pleasure and reward centers in your brain light up, as though you were the recipient of the good deed. This phenomenon is termed as the “helper’s high.”

In addition to this, like most medical antidepressants, kindness is known to stimulate the production of Serotonin. This neurotransmitter helps in maintaining the levels of sleep, mood, libido, energy, appetite, and anxiety.

Embracing kindness has made me a happier person and I wish the same for you.

Some Examples of Kindness :

  • Treating people who are less fortunate, in a respectable manner.
  • Donating food and clothes to those in need.
  • Volunteering time and skills for the benefit of others.

Remember – This is Your Personal Journey and by becoming a finer person, you come closer to fulfilling your potential in every area of your life.

Namaste.

 

This article was initially published on LinkedIn on 29/01/2017

Link : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-how-becoming-finer-person-visha-bhayee?trk=prof-post

 

 

 

4 Ways to manage being Alone On New Year’s Eve

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So, New Year’s Eve is around the corner and the festive scene is ripe with merriment.

Most people look forward to bringing in the New Year with their significant others, friends or family. For some the situation is different and they could be spending this time on their own, due to different reasons.

  • Just relocated to a new place
  • Friends are occupied with other commitments
  • Suffering with or recovering from a physical / mental illness
  • Recently separated or divorced
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one
  • Down with financial losses

Staying alone especially during the holidays can be difficult and for most it is certainly not a voluntary choice.

Quoting Mother Theresa, she once said – “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.”

If due to your circumstances, you are considering to stay alone during this New Year’s Eve, I encourage you to take steps to cope with your situation and feel a lot better.

1.      Celebrate your achievements – Take time to remember this year’s accomplishments. Recollect you initiatives and pay special attention to the efforts that you made. Like Nelson Mandela said – “I never lose. I either win or learn”.

2.      Review and set goals – Seize this opportunity to reflect on what you would like to achieve in the future. Is it better health, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, giving more to charity, traveling to a new place, continuing your education or something else?

Nobody knows your dreams and aspirations better than you do! This is a great time to write down your goals and design a SMART plan to achieve them.

3.       Rest and relax – It is after all the end of another calendar year and you have had your share of ups and downs. Take this moment to unwind – enjoy spa time, indulge in some comfort food, read a book or watch an inspiring movie.

4.      Count your blessings – Whatever be the current situation, there is always something that we can all be thankful for. Utilize this opportunity to offer gratitude for all the small things, big things and everything in between.

Whether we believe it or not, there are people out there who are less fortunate and yet happier.

Remember – Being alone is temporary. The goals that set you set today and the future actions that you take to achieve them, can change your situation sooner than you think.

 

This article was originally posted on Linkedin on 30 December 2016

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/4-ways-manage-being-alone-new-years-eve-visha-bhayee?trk=prof-post

Overcome being Passive-Aggressive in 5 Steps

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Passive-Aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility towards others. 

The NYU Medical Center defines a passive-aggressive individual as someone who “may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists.” 

It is likely that you could have been the victim of such passive-aggression or have exhibited this very behavior at some point or another.

Examples of Passive-Aggressive behavior

  • Avoiding confrontation and evading open communication
  • Frequently acting sullen
  • Playing the role of the perpetual victim
  • Blaming others
  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Displaying chronic forgetfulness
  • Always arriving late and making people wait
  • Repeatedly procrastinating and deliberately not completing designated tasks

What leads to Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

Passivity and Aggression are opposites.

A passive individual adopts passivity due to the fear of adverse consequences. When faced with a difficult situation, he thinks “how can I reveal my true feelings? What if others feel bad or get angry? What if this damages the relationship? ”

Due to this fear, the individual suppresses his feelings, needs and wants, leading to repressed anger and frustration.

Contrary to the passive individual, the aggressive individual openly voices opinions and displays negative sentiments without restraint, often not considering the effect on others.

Passive-Aggression is an unhealthy combination of both behaviors (passivity and aggression). The passive-aggressive individual aims at asserting himself indirectly while also pretending to be considerate towards the feelings and viewpoints of others.

The Negative Impact of Passive-Aggression

As passive- aggressive behavior is mostly covert in nature, it can be difficult to identify. The recipient however feels the invisible pinch and is left in a state of confusion, trying to decipher whether or not the negative behavior was intended.

This type of behavior is also considered as emotional abuse since it nibbles away at trust, in personal as well as workplace relationships.

To make matters worse, when a leader resorts to being passive-aggressive, he steps on the fast-track to losing respect, dampening team motivation and destroying overall productivity.

Change is Possible

Assertiveness is the ideal balance between the extremes of Passivity and Aggression. An assertive individual states his viewpoint in a respectful yet clear manner without unduly fearing the consequences.

Those with the tendency to be passive-aggressive can work towards overcoming this behavior, by implementing these 5 Steps.

  1. Recognizing the behavior – An increased level of self -awareness is necessary for the person to realize that he is resorting to being indirectly hostile in challenging situations. To arrive at this understanding, the individual must commit to learning more deeply about his emotions, intentions and actions.
  2. Identifying the triggers – The individual needs to closely analyze what sets off the behavior. Is it repressed anger, pent up frustration from not speaking out openly or is it something else?
  3. Not letting problems escalate – Passive aggressive people have a strong tendency to procrastinate. Deadline after deadline could be missed to avoid unpleasant situations. To keep matters from getting out of control, procrastinating will need to be checked. The passive-aggressive individual would have to begin taking prompt action.
  4. Getting comfortable with conflict – Conflicts are inevitable and will happen at some point or other. A mere disagreement does not necessarily spell the end of a relationship.
  5. Having the courage to be direct – In the better interest of relationships and for one’s own peace of mind, it is essential for the individual to start practicing assertiveness.

It is imperative to remember that change requires time and effort. Assertiveness can be learned and with sufficient practice limiting behavioral patterns such as passive-aggression can be changed.

 

This article was originally posted on Linkedin on 12 December 2016.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/overcome-being-passive-aggressive-5-steps-visha-bhayee

 

 

Live your Dreams

“The best way to make your dream come true, is to Wake Up” – Paul Valery

Just yesterday I happened to meet my childhood friend who recently turned forty. As we chatted, reminiscing about old times, the topic veered off to – yet to be fulfilled dreams.

My friend turned misty eyed as she spoke about some of the curve balls that life had thrown her. The last twenty odd years had just rushed past, sooner than she had imagined, she said. Now, she is keen on making most of her life post forty, however she sometimes  wonders, how to realize her bucket list.

I find a lot of my life coaching clients echoing similar thoughts. “So many dreams and such little time” say some, while others have confessed “It all seems so clear in my head, but turns so hazy when I get to defining it”.

4 Strategies To Help You Realize Your Dreams

1. Clarify Your Dream
What exactly are you looking to achieve? How would fulfilling that dream benefit you? What would it mean to you, if you had to let go of your dream?

Remember – Realizing your dream might need considerable effort, hence begin by ascertaining that the kind of dream you are relating to, is the one you are willing to work towards.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

2. Convert Your Dream Into A Goal
A dream is a goal without legs; it is the very process of clarifying a dream, recognizing and defining it, that gives your dream the vehicle to move forward.

When you say “I want to be happy” or “I wish I was rich” the output is rather abstract. For defining your dream, you will need to clarify it and make it more tangible. Hence, start by converting your dream into a SMART goal. SMART (Specific-Measurable-Realistic-Time Bound). 

A simple example of a SMART goal – “I want to lose 10 pounds, in the next 3 months”

3. Start Working On It
Putting down a plan might not seem dreamy or exciting, however be cautioned that those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

Invest some time and effort in laying out a clear plan and begin working towards achieving your dream. Even tiny actions matter; so whether it is speaking to the right people or doing relevant research, it all makes a difference.

Make sure to align with supportive people; those who would help and encourage you. These people (friends / relatives etc) could be a great source of positive energy and strength. On the other hand, there could be those, who do not support your progress. These people might ridicule your dream and attempt to pull you down. Be aware of the negative impact they could cause and avoid sharing your dreams with them.

4. Stay Focused
Make your dream your priority and nurture it by dedicating your time and attention, passion and enthusiasm.

Similar to any project, there is a possibility that you might face road blocks, while on your way to the finishing line. At these times, it is not unusual to question your choices; where there is uncertainty, there lurks doubt. At that moment, PAUSE and remind yourself about the very reason, for wanting to achieve that dream.

Stay focused, keep up the determination and protect your dream, with the passion and efforts that it deserves. Having said that, do allow yourself some flexibility to make adjustments as needed.

Keep the faith and keep going. Every step taken in the right direction, is sure to bring you closer to achieving your dream.

Remember – To Start Living Your Dream, Stop Living IN The Dream

Why Is Hope Considered To Be A Good Thing?

Hope

Hope is often described as a coping mechanism and it is said to foster a positive attitude that can get someone through a rough patch. Hope can also inspire change and action that creates desired situations.

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot in her book “The Science of Optimism: Why We’re Hard-Wired for Hope” explains how hope is beneficial –

“Although the belief in a better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress, and improves physical health.
This is probably the most surprising benefit of optimism. All else being equal, optimists are healthier and live longer. It is not just that healthy people are more optimistic, but optimism can enhance health. Expecting our future to be good reduces stress and anxiety, which is good for our health.
Researchers studying heart attack patients have found that optimists were more likely than non-optimistic patients to take vitamins, eat low-fat diets, and exercise, thereby reducing their overall coronary risk. A study of cancer patients revealed that pessimistic patients under the age of 60 were more likely to die within eight months than non-pessimistic patients of the same initial health, status, and age”

I couldn’t agree more because if there is one single common belief that I see many of my Coaching clients display, it is none other than “Hope”.
The stories are different and so are the faces however a lingering thread of hope seems omnipresent. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that often it is this delicate thread of hope that holds it all together and sees people through.

Quoting Martin Luther King seems appropriate – “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.