Dear Editor,Stress, loss, anxiety and sadness – everyone has dealt with these emotions over past several weeks. When these symptoms keep you from being able to perform normally in daily life, or you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s time to get help. Through the columns of your esteemed daily, I would like to highlight the importance of mental health.Mental health is just as important as physical health. Many people deal with ongoing conditions that need attention – even during a pandemic. Now is not the time to ignore your mental health by just thinking ‘Log Kya Kehenge.’ It is your life and you need to focus on things which are good for you and start living a happy life and in case, you suffer from any mental health issue, you need to treat it well.Ignoring behavioral health symptoms can result in worsening of a condition or, sadly the loss of life through suicide. There may be those who try to self-medicate through use of substances, such as alcohol, prescription pain medications or other drugs. We must never ignore warning signs of behavioral health conditions like feeling overwhelmed, thoughts of suicide, harming yourself or others, pressing feelings of sadness, hopelessness and emptiness, excessive worrying, panic, agitation and irritability, trouble remembering or concentrating, excessive mood swings, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, extreme difficulty interacting with friends or family. Anyone can suffer from mental or emotional health problems-and over a lifetime most of us will. This year alone, about one in five of us will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Yet, despite how common mental health problems are, many of us make no effort to improve our situation.We ignore emotional messages that tell us something is wrong and try toughing it out by distracting ourselves or self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or self-destructive behaviors. We bottle up our problems in hope that others won’t notice. We hope that our situation will eventually improve on its own. Or we simply give up telling ourselves this is ‘just the way we are’.The good news is you don’t have to feel bad. There are practices you can adopt to elevate your mood, become more resilient, and enjoy life more. But just as it requires effort to build and maintain physical health, so it is with mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being.The best way is to make social connection a priority-especially face-to-face. No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and function at your best. Humans are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship-even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.It is also pertinent to mention here that we all are different and many times we get calm and peace by doing different things. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee or a favorite scent? Or maybe squeezing a stress-ball works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so start experimenting now to find what works best for you. Once you discover how your nervous system responds to sensory input, you’ll be able to quickly calm yourself no matter where or when stress hits. Always remember it’s your life and you have to make it good and happy. No matter what others say if you like it, it is the best for you.Dr Mohit Kesar,Shastri Nagar.
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