Mental Health

It’s A Tough Life….Or Is It?

As if life wasn’t hard enough, now COVID-19 comes into the mix!

I am a 41 year old Sikh Punjabi woman living in London who is now having to adjust to online teaching of Mathematics at secondary school level. Having been brought up in a tight knit and fairly large family this phase of social distancing is also teaching me many new ways of living.

Let’s be honest 2020 hasn’t been a great year so far, our New Years resolutions broke before they even started, and the end is nowhere to be seen. So how do we stay positive in this situation or see the glass half full?

Having struggled with mental health issues almost all my life, aged 40-something I would like to think I have tried many options to stay ‘happy’. Battling with depression and anxiety was very challenging. It took me some time to realise I was a sufferer and more often or not I wasn’t aware I was going through a phase as it was not something I had been educated on. Some days, weeks, months or even years would go by and I would be ‘fine’ but then that shadow of darkness would come and suck me back into this hole. So, I educated myself on this topic and became more aware of the signs and symptoms and how best I could manage these cycles. From visiting Gurudwaras to watching numerous comedies, I have explored multiple avenues to make me feel better. It is safe to say some worked and, well, some were not so great (for me that is) however what I have needed to work out is which ones works best for me in this new lifestyle?!

1 in 4 of us in the UK suffer from some kind of mental health issues, predominantly depression or anxiety, and I am sure the current climate hasn’t helped these figures. So that is 1 in 4, 25% percent of the UK’s population of almost 68 million, 17 million are struggling with their mental health. A shockingly large number but also a comforting number to know when you feel you are alone in this ‘state of mind’.

So, what can we do to help ourselves from feeling lost, lonely, or stuck in this dark place that not many seem to understand? I have learnt several ways that work for me, maybe they will help you, too.

I want to share a few tips and tricks that have worked for me to get through these tough times and make life easier on those difficult days when you just do not see the point in anything.

1. Gratitude – spend 10 mins in the morning, afternoon and evening being grateful for the simplest of things. The fact you are alive, the birds chirping outside your window, the family around you or even having a roof over your head are amazing factors in your life. Being grateful for what you have helps you move away from thinking about what you don’t have.

2. Mindfulness – make sure that your MIND is not FULL of unnecessary worries or thoughts that you cannot control and try to become MINDFUL of everything around you. Be aware of the most basic things using your five senses which will make you appreciate the world around you. God (or the Supreme energy) has blessed us with the painting of life which needs time to be admired. After a long time or the first time for some of us we have this time. Aren’t we lucky!

3. Meditation – Last but not least is meditation. One of my favourite hobbies if you like is to try various meditation techniques. Meditation is a spiritual practice which has been practiced in one form or another in virtually every religion so there must be something in it, right? To me it provides me with an escapism from the outside chaotic world, the warmth of a colourful internal world and the chance to give my mind a break which is working overtime during the day and even at night when I’m sleeping. Though it takes time to achieve complete bliss and avoid any thoughts when sitting in meditation it most definitely gives me the opportunity to take ‘time out’ from the fast pace life and provides light in the darkness around me.

Ultimately by taking small steps we can work towards lifelong change.

There’s no harm in trying! ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference try sleeping with a mosquito’ .

(Dalai Lama)

By Aanika www.aanika.co.uk