25 Jun Mindfulness Meditation is a Promising Alternative Treatment/Care for Mental Health
Mental health is a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is an important state of well-being that may affect at any stage of childhood or adulthood of a human being. At some point or the other in our lives, we experience mild mental instability. If we do not address the instability at an early stage it can lead to chronic mental disorders.
A few years ago, one of my friends shared her painful experience of being sexually exploited at a tender age. I can only imagine her pain and distress. She went on to tell me how she battled her depression and fought her way back up using mindfulness meditation. She was traumatised to a point where nervous breakdowns became a regular thing. She came to the point of being bedridden, and with no help from psychiatrists, she thought it was the end until she came across this meditation technique which could recover her mental health. And to this day, she is grateful to have been introduced to this technique. This is what inspired me towards including and highlighting the importance of mental health in our daily lives.
Lot of us think we’re fine and we don’t have any problems, but just like we need to take care of our body, we need to do the same for our mind too.
Mindfulness Meditation – The Definition
Mindfulness Meditation is an art as well as a treatment used long before modern medicine came in to revolutionise mental disorders. Mindfulness Meditation is based on focusing the attention on the breath, to clear one’s thoughts, and achieve a relaxed state. When I say relaxed, I don’t mean the relaxation you get when you get in the sauna. No, I mean a state in which you achieve maximum control over your mind and your thoughts. This not only relaxes your frenzied brain but also relaxes your muscles and your body as a whole. Mindfulness meditation is a technique which, if practiced properly, allows the individual to bring the mind into its default resting mode. Even though you are aware of your surroundings, you transcend through the thoughts. Just imagine sitting down and have no thought driving you crazy…..in fact no thought at all. The relaxing experience would definitely be a unique one.
Mental health and emotions
When you are mentally healthy, you have more control over your emotions. Emotions are a result of chemical releases in our brain and different situations trigger respective chemical releases. However, in a stressed mind, these chemical releases become unbalanced and hence can result in foggy thoughts, anxiety, depression, agitation, and irritation. The immediate effects include, sleeplessness, nausea, constant ringing in ears, heavy breathing, indigestion, and pretty much all the body systems get affected negatively, all because the brain isn’t healthy. Depressed people usually get socially alienated and this can further worsen the problem.
There are several techniques to recover from these disorders, and all aim in nourishing the brain and offloading it. Offloading here refers to clearing your head and organising your thoughts.
Ways to Improve Mental Health
- Respect yourself – Try to appreciate your efforts and refrain from self-criticism. Respect yourself and be kind to yourself. Give time to activities that make you feel relaxed and happy.
- Take care of your body – Physical health is equally important and a healthy body directly affects your mental health. So try to eat healthy, keep yourself well hydrated, engage in physical activities such as jogging and working out, get proper sleep and avoid addictions like drinking and smoking.
- Choose the right people to be around you – People you socialize with greatly affect your mental health. Most of the thought material comes from the people around you. Try to hang out with groups and friends who are supportive and creative.
- Help others – Science has proven how, giving to the society can help you feel good. Helping out wherever you can, will help build a better self portrait of yourself in your mind. Besides, what goes around comes around, so you help someone and maybe your good deeds will come in handy someday.
- Learn to handle stress – Stress is a mood killer, we all know that. You cannot completely eliminate stress; however, you can learn to handle it. Try to practice mindfulness meditation in the morning and in the evening. If you cannot find a teacher to teach you the technique, you can learn by yourself by downloading the “aware” app.
- Calm your mind – If you feel your mind running around in circles, take a deep breath, sit down and calm yourself. Try to practice mental noting technique which helps to block out your thoughts immediately.
- Don’t shy out from asking for help – You are not the only one experiencing difficulties in life. Everyone around you is in a similar state, some show it and others don’t. So don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. There are qualified specialists who deal with all kinds of problems related to mental health.
All the research I did would have been useless if I didn’t practice it and experience the benefits first hand. As I started meditating, I could feel the change in my life within the first two weeks. The major benefits I believe I experienced are:
- Reduced stress
- Frequent happiness
- Better self-confidence
- Lesser anxiety
- Improved memory
- Improved control over addiction
- Increased creativity
- More productivity
- Better socializing
There are a lot of other benefits than these, but this is how meditating to improve my mental health helped me. I would suggest for everyone to try this out, and take your mental health more seriously.
Dr Shanthi Lakshmi Duraimani
Research Analyst, Aware