Monthly recap : May 2021

It’s the end of May and I feel kind off empty. I spent quality time with my family, watched shows with my sister and managed to maintain a good workout streak throughout the month. However, I always feel bad when good things come to an end. I don’t know what June holds for me but the only wish I have is to have mental peace. I remember having a great time at my vacation in March this year. I enjoyed every second of it and was the happiest I have been in a long while. I wish I could be that happy my entire life. I wish I could learn the secret to be happy forever.

Mental health

  • Meditated for 17/31 days. I wasn’t able to meditate easily this month. I had to force myself each day and was extremely distracted during the time that I meditated. I broke my streak on 23rd May and didn’t feel like starting back again.
  • Journaled/documented my day for days. I pushed myself to write on some days but quit after writing a single line.
  • Practiced gratitude journaling for 0 days. I didn’t write it down but before sleeping I tried to recollect 3 good things that happened during the day and be thankful for it on most of the days this month.

Personal Growth

This section is for a new skill or talent that I’ve acquired in this month, tried a new activity or thing that has pushed me out of my comfort zone.

  • I read 120 pages of a book in about 3 hrs. The book was super engaging and I completely lost myself in it. There was a power cut in our area because of cyclone tauktae so I had nothing else to do than read. (Book : Atomic Habits by James Clear)

Workouts

  • 1 long run in this month. 8.07 kms indoors within the confines of my small room at home.
  • Completed the 28 day SuperHIIT series by Tanvi Parikh. I am extremely proud of myself for completing this challenge and maintaining a 28 day continuous workout streak. This has been my highlight for this month.

Education

  • Zero progress with CFA level 1 curriculum.
  • Zero online courses completed in May

Entertainment

  • Completed reading 0 books (More than halfway through 2 books.)
  • Watched 2 amazing K-dramas this month that I loved. Crash landing on you and School 2017. K-dramas have the power to transfer me to a whole new world filled with love, warmth and innocence. It reminds me of my childhood when I was optimistic, happy go lucky and extremely hopeful in life.

May you have been amazing. June…..Please be good!

Deconstruct to reconstruct

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”

James Altucher

Day 18/30

Sometimes you just burnout. Your daily routine doesn’t seem fruitful anymore. You get upset by the end of the day because of your procrastination on important tasks throughout the day. You feel lost, demotivated and desperately seek a fresh start. You write down a to-do list for next day, it consists of everything that you wish you would do but you’ve never attempted it even once in your whole life. Like waking up at 5 am (when your usual timing is 8 am), reading 50 pages of a book (usual count 0), workout for 30 mins (usual count 0) so on and so forth. You get the point. Things don’t exactly transpire the way you’d wish for the next day and thus begins the endless loop of self pity and unproductivity. How do you get out of it? Let me lay down small tips that might help!

  • Deconstruct your day : Find out 3 key tasks from your daily routine that you’d wish to change. It can be very simple tasks like drinking 1 liter water or reading 10 pages of a book.
  • Reconstruct it step by step : If you are habituated to have a bath in the evening, try having it in the morning the next day. Skip junk food for a day. Make it very simple and short and challenge yourself you attempt just these 3 tasks the next day. Since the tasks are simple, attempting them shouldn’t seem too difficult. Once you accomplish them, you’d have the confidence to increase the level of these targets the next day. Take each day as it comes. Don’t try to become wonderwoman the very next day!
  • Convert your mind into a trainer : You know those taskmasters in the gym who set your goals, motivate you to achieve them every single day, envision your long term targets, keep a tab on your progress and make sure you succeed! You have an in house trainer that wouldn’t cost you a dime, YOUR MIND! I know this works since I’ve tried it before. Our mind has 2 voices, one always recommends the easy way out (the procrastinator), the other motivates you to chose the right path (the taskmaster). Try to concentrate on your mind’s chatter for a day. Your mind always gives you 2 choices. Your intuition always knows what’s right for that moment but there’s another voice which makes your procrastinate everything and choose the lazy route out. Force yourself to listen to the taskmaster at least 3 out of 5 times and you’ll be sorted.

That’s it for now. These are very simple and basic steps that has the power to change your lifestyle, slowly and steadily. A big change in our life might not take overnight but we can make sure to change our life, one brick at a time.

Live now, think later

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles.

Charlie Chaplin

Finally I got around to write my first post in the new year. I tried drafting this post multiple times this week but owing to my daily office schedule, I wasn’t successful in completing it. It’s finally weekend and I have all the time in the world to publish my first post ofm2021. Is it just me or 2021 feels a lot more hopeful than the year that just went by? Things have started on a positive note and I feel quiet motivated to work towards my goals this year. I struggled with lot of anxiety during the last week of 2020. No matter how I thought about it, my future self seemed unfulfilled and unhappy. These thoughts weighed heavily on my present self and I couldn’t concentrate on the bright side of my life.

With the dawn of the new year, I am trying my level best to build a powerful routine and stick by it. I read an article by one of the members of my favorite band, my lifeline, BTS Kim Taehyung aka “V”. He talked about dealing with depression and his thoughts during this tough phase of his life. Although on the outset, it feels like he is living his dream life, he was still unhappy. He started disassociating himself from his persona, he didn’t derive fulfilment from work that was the source of his happiness before, he was confused as to why he felt this way when everything was going great. The way he got out of this mental turmoil was by jotting down his thoughts about it and he ended up writing and co-producing the song “Blue & Grey“. This gave him a great sense of accomplishment and helped him overcome his depressed thoughts to some extent.

Last week I decided to take the help of a therapist to gain clarity on my mental health issues. The first therapist I talked to told me I need medication to increase the level of serotonin in my brain (short cut much!). I don’t want any dependency on medicines to feel happy so thought of talking to another one. The second one was far more sensible and probably a better listener. She didn’t tell me anything “out of the box” yet I felt much better after the call. She gave me homework in the form of 2 lists, one list of all the things that are under my control in the present and second one of things that made me happy and think about ways to create a career out of it (learn new skills, research on the subject etc.) I’m yet to complete my homework but I still feel a lot better by each day after the call. I guess I just needed an intervention, someone to talk to, someone who listened to my thoughts without any judgement.

This week was crazy hectic! I went to office on all days yet managed to find time out to do things that make me truly happy, 5 mins meditation, 15 mins workout, writing in my journal and studying for my exams. My anxiety has been in check for this week. As BTS V mentioned he felt better after writing his song, it was a big accomplishment for him. This statement hit me hard, the best way to beat anxiety is to “take action” and accomplish a task, no matter how tiny it is. When we are anxious and depressed, we lose interest and confidence to do anything in life, be it old or new. Pushing ourselves to take action is the best way to beat the blues.

The most important goal that I’m forcing myself to stick to is to “take each day as it comes“. Concentrate completely on the day on hand, live each day in the best possible manner, document it, give it importance and focus only on that day. This takes our anxiety off the past or future and diverts the mind’s attention to the present moment. This is helping me as of now. I will share my goals for 2021 soon, looking forward to a happy 2021!

Under the weather

“The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.”

William James

Last few days have been very difficult, mentally. I’ve been experiencing bouts of anxiety, sadness and despair. I’m trying to fight it with regular exercise and consistent meditation. These habits are a life savior as I’ve mentioned many times before yet I’m struggling to stay sane and happy these days.

The reason behind my anxiety can’t be pointed to one single event. I’m anxious about a lot of things mostly related to my future and the society’s expectations from it. My father is a super hyper and anxious stress taker and that doesn’t help. My mother is trying her level best to fight the naysayers and not let it trouble me but I know for a fact that it affects her badly. My existence has suddenly become a source of burden for my family as far as my age and marriage prospects are concerned. I really don’t know who decided to set an age benchmark to gauge the successes and failures in life. Whoever did it, their thoughts are redundant in the current day and age but very few people understand this. I don’t know what I should do to stop being a cause of concern to my family. Marriage is indeed a big event for everyone except the one who is required to do it without being mentally prepared for it. In the midst of this, I lost out on a good job opportunity and that just made the situation worse.

Trying to meditate, workout and journal my way out of this. I wish to document this as much as possible so that I feel an immense sense of gratitude when this difficult phase ends. Our human mind is quiet resilient, it tends to hide the traumatic experiences of life in a vault at the most remote corner of our brain to quicken the recovery process. But I would like to come back to these journals so that I know that I have to ability to deal with such situations in future too!

I wish for all of you to have an unlimited supply of happiness and inner peace!

Importance of mental health

#78/100

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

John Green

It’s “World Mental Health Day” today and I couldn’t find a better day to talk about this topic. My parents belonged to a generation where talking about mental health or any of the illnesses and disorders related to it was considered a huge stigma. It is considered an untouchable topic by many even today. But am glad the present generation has made continued efforts in breaking the barriers surrounding the most important aspect of human life. People of our generation are open about their feelings, do not shy away from discussing their mental health issues and seek out help when they realize that something is wrong.

I woke up today to the news of a young boy who chose to commit suicide due to depression. He was just 13-14 years old. I’m unable to comprehend the pain that the boy had to go through before he chose to end the misery altogether. He couldn’t talk about it with his parents and they are left with innumerable unanswerable questions in their mind.

For the longest time, I did not talk about my feelings with my parents as well. My relationship with my mother changed after I had a heart to heart discussion with her about everything I had in mind. This step is a lost cause as far as my father is concerned. But I’m glad my mother understands the importance of mental health and lends a patient ear whenever I vent out my frustrations to her.

Many of us might feel that this topic is overrated and we can overcome anything if we wish to. When we experience mental health disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, OCD or depression, our brain undergoes changes that are definitely not under our control. Many a times, we just don’t feel in the mood to do anything in life. We lose all hope for the future and are unable to experience happiness. These feelings are real. The first step to deal with a mental health disorder is “acceptance“. We need to accept that something is wrong with our thought patterns. The next step is to “seek help“. I’ve tried talking to various counsellors with the sole reason to get me out of the negative pattern my brain has gone into. I always wanted a quick and permanent solution to the problem. But it doesn’t work that way. Mental health disorders can be caused due to genes and family history, environmental stress, a traumatic experience, childhood trauma, life experiences or a combination of these factors. These causes accumulate over a period of time and take a long time to show red flags. By the time we realize it, we might not be in a condition to come out of it on our own.

There are few effective ways in which we can maintain a stable mental health if we are willing to work on it every single day. These are techniques that each one of us is aware of yet we are unwilling to take time out to work on ourselves till the situation gets out of hand. I’m trying my level best to create a routine and habit out of these techniques so that I follow them every single day on an “auto-pilot mode“.

  • Workouts : Exercise in any form is a proven way to release endorphins in our brain which makes us happy and healthy. This one has dual effects in maintaining our physical as well as mental health.
  • Meditation : I can’t stress enough about the benefits of meditation in our life. It is incredibly difficult to make this one a habit. We need to push ourselves very hard in the beginning. Yet, the benefits are incredible and almost instantaneous. I have started a practice of meditating right after I wake up. This has proven very effective in maintaining a good routine so far. Meditation has powerful benefits in the long term if practiced daily. It helps us become aware of our thoughts and teaches us not not dwell on every thought in our mind.
  • Journaling : It’s the best way to let out our emotions and understand the pattern of our thoughts. Journaling and writing has helped me find answers to the questions I never had. It helps me in self introspection and understanding myself better. Sometimes, when we are unable to find people to talk to, our journals help us deal with our loneliness. It also helps us to focus on the present moment and live each day as it comes.
  • Gratitude : I wrote an article about this a few days ago. The most powerful practice suggested by my counsellor was to write 3 things I am grateful for every morning and 3 great things that happened during the day in the evening. This is an incredible practice to count our blessings in life and more reasons to be happy.

I wish and pray for your mental health and happiness.