Greetings from the sunny side of Monday.
Before your Monday progresses into the twilight of an unwelcome work week, we’re here to discuss a very important member of the health familia - mental health.
Since May has been anointed as the Mental health awareness month, we’re here to serve your Monday read with a dash of stigma breaking and a refreshing take on mental health therapies.
*Heads-up - banter starting*
Before we dig into this topic, we just want to bring home the fact that every new year, we most popularly make resolutions with respect to our body, skill-set, “passions”, careers and relationships. We take fitness challenges, sweat it out in the gym, run marathons, we become conscious of social media usage, take efforts to work on our social and romantic relationships, make plans of solo -trips and dream trips and so on.
But what about our mental health? It creeps up on you to remind you of its existence when you’re all alone with your thoughts, when the lights are off, phone’s are resting, in the moment you’re facing failure, in the songs whose lyrics tear up your eyes, when you want to smile or laugh but tears just stream down your face.
Workload, peer pressure, exam pressure, secrets - unprofessed, broken promises, guilt- trips, opinions, depressing news - your mind takes it all!. No wonder suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between the ages 10 to 24!
Being hypnotised or talking to a ceiling while pretending your therapist isn't around or popping the prescribed (or often unprescribed) pills may seem some conventional ideas when one thinks of therapies associated with mental health. While these traditional methods maybe efficient and should be sought after if the need be (without any hesitation) there are alternatives that you can seek to keep that mighty brain of yours well oiled and active enough to tackle the stress. We are talking about therapies that rely much on active engagement of the mind through action and should be thought of as regular gym (crossfit, yoga, pilates etc.!) for your mind.
“When I shop the world gets better and the world is better but then it’s not and then I have to shop again”
Do you remember Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic? Ladies, she’s the poster child of retail therapy! Science shows that when you shop, your brain releases a chemical called Dopamine (which is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain). There is a spike in Dopamine when you’re considering buying something new. It acts as an automatic mood uplifter. Move over fiction, Maria Sharapova, has in her autobiography “Unstoppable” endorsed retail therapy whenever she lost to her nemesis Serena Williams. She says, “When you feel you need to see a psychologist, go out and buy a pair of shoes instead. If they’re really great shoes, all your worries will evaporate.” So ladies don’t shy away from splurging!
Do you remember scribbling colourful works of art as a child? Do you remember how your eyes would pop when you’d spot a rainbow? “Red for love, white for peace, pink for crush, yellow for friendship, black for hate” - we solemnly followed this rule of “law”.
Come 14 february or 25 december - red and white rule the streets.
Come Diwali or Holi - yellow, red, orange, blue, golden and green paint the town.
All these experiences employ colour. Colour which is nothing but light and energy has always had an association with our emotions. We not only absorb colour through our eyes but also through our skin, and so our aura’s also have different layers of colours. Colour therapy is a holistic way of healing using colour to affect a person’s mood or emotions. For example - calming colours like blue and green calm a person who is facing emotional troubles and it also lowers blood pressure. On the other hand warm colours like red and orange invoke intense feelings of love, anger and enthusiasm.
Feelings of joy and safety are also directly associated with colour, which is why children who are exposed to more colour than the usual greys, black and white that our adults are exposed to, feel more joy and happiness. Even their textbooks are more colourful!!
The next time you feel low, go snatch some crayons and paint the world a masterpiece of colours!
This one is a no brainer honestly that some ignorant souls perhaps either don't know about or for some reason haven't tried. If looking at adorable puppies on Instagram and watching cat videos on loop can bring a smile (or even a giggle!) to us, then imagine the sheer joy they will bring to you when in actual contact.
The technical term for such a therapy is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) where trained animals interact with humans to improve their mental and physical health. There are special clinics that provide this facility in a guided environment across the world but if this sounds too extreme to you then even adopting a pet will work. If being a pet parent is also not feasible then we suggest you volunteer at pet shelters to truly understand the the efficiency of the pet therapy. You will discover that it not only lifts your spirit but also keeps you agile and alert. Pet Therapy has also been proven as a great way to work on your social skills or recover from post traumatic stress (PTS).
As if their cuteness wasn't enough, we brought science and your mental health together in the mix to urge you to get a cute creature in your life (cute humans don't count here!).
PS - Please adopt, don't shop!
Nothing much needs to be said here, cause we’re all pretty much experienced when it comes to music. It’s the gospel truth that music makes you feel. It’s the perfect, cheapest, and most loyal therapist you could ever find. However, on a more serious note, music therapy has found profound success in dealing with autism, depression, infant development and sleep quality.
Psychology Today’s blogpost reads as follows: “ Music may be used with guided imagery to produce altered states of consciousness that help uncover hidden emotional responses and stimulate creative insights. Music may also be used in the classroom to aid children in the development of reading and language skills. Receptive methods involve listening to and responding to live or recorded music. Discussion of their responses is believed to help people express themselves in socially accepted ways and to examine personal issues.”
Before we move on, let’s just pause and pay tribute to the Queen Adele for when you’re feeling all hell hath no fury, to Queen Bee when you’re all #girlsruntheworld or the rage anthem #singleladies, and to the warm fuzzy feeling when you hear christmas carols or Coldplay’s Yellow.
It may sound like we made it up but we didn't! It is a real thing. Also known as Touch Therapy there are actually cuddle spas in the west, where you can pay to your dose of cuddles with a stranger (trained cuddle therapists believe it or not)
Snuggling up with a human increases Oxytocin levels which is also known as the 'bonding' hormone, the release of which reduces blood pressure, stress and anxiety which in turn keeps your heart healthy. It has also been proven scientifically to improve sleep and enhance immunity, all thanks to our dear friend Oxytocin. Now whether you cuddle up with a loved one or find a cuddle buddy (like a fuck buddy) is up to you but you should definitely never underestimate the power of a good old snuggle.
This, as the name suggests involves reading, listing to spoken text and even creative writing. This sort of a therapy is known to alter moods and enhance focus skills in an individual. Although this cost effective alternative to conventional therapy is usually conducted by a trained bibliotherapist or a story teller in a controlled environment (where the text is selective and the voice modulated), there is no reason to limit it to it's conventional interpretation. This is actually the most common form of alternative therapy without us even realising or acknowledging it as such. We all know that reading transforms one to a secluded space where our imagination can run wild, and same goes for writing. Focusing on text diverts our mind from any stress while also resting it which in turn enhances our sleep.
So without further delay, start reading that book you always wanted to finish to or start scribbling in that journal you always wanted to begin.
DANCE MOVE THERAPY (DMT)
“Based on the understanding that the body and mind are interrelated, DMT is defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual.”
DMT has been used to build trust, empathy and self-confidence and tackle eating disorders. How? Dance enables a creative - nonverbal outlet for thoughts and feelings that are often masked by eating and other compulsive disorders. DMT can range from traditional dances like ballroom, ballet, contemporary to more subtle forms of movement like yoga and stretching.
Badass tip : Dance is the hidden language of the soul. Dance like nobody’s watching (except when you’re butt naked and not in the shower! 👀) So ladies, tonight, just put your hands up and jump like a monkey.
ADVENTURE & WILDERNESS THERAPY
For all you nature and outdoor fans out there, this one is specially curated for you. The basic idea behind these therapies is to employ natural consequences of the challenging environment (outdoors) to help troubled youth.
This therapy achieves a threefold objective of assessing issues, helping youth develop coping strategies, and emergence of a more positive sense of self and hope for the future. While adventure therapy is a shorter program involving high and low ropes courses, rock climbing, rappelling and white water rafting among others. On the other hand, wilderness therapy is more prolonged and involves hanging off a 100-foot cliff, hiking in the forests as well as canoeing and kayaking.
In case this is too much too soon for you, simply step out in nature, leave your phone, absorb the nature and breathe!
Equipped with this knowledge, you ladies will never experience a dearth of ideas on what to do keep your mind healthy.
WARNING : However if you have tried all this and nothing seems to be working out for you, please do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for HELP!!
words : tvesha sippy
Sources: psychologytoday.com ; arttherapyblog.com ; eatingdisorder.org ; study.com