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Wellness Blog 26 Jun 2017

Begin your own healing: Coping with challenges of the mind

Because of growing external factors, stress and anxiety has become a part of everyone’s life. It is important to follow the following steps to de-stress. Read on...

By Prashant Banerjee Senior Manager

A large number of individuals in India suffer from some sort of psychological ailment and many, if not most, are unable to access suitable and timely help for it. It would be safe to assume that a significant portion of such individuals are teenagers and young adults, struggling with physical, emotional, psychological and social changes taking place in their lives. Issues ranging from peer pressure, bullying and cyber-bullying, anxiety over career, eating disorders, unhealthy body images, to extreme cases like self-harm, alcohol and substance abuse are more common today than one would imagine. Since mental healthcare facilities offer uneven access and tend to be overburdened, one needs to take the first set of steps in self-care that protects the individual from long-term consequences of psychological issues.

Here are a few ways in which you as a teenager or a young adults can take care of your mental health:

The Circle of Trust: It might be difficult and awkward to talk to your parents about how you are feeling, and the life stressors you are trying to cope with. Often, the need to portray that you are strong and can deal with things by yourself eclipses everything else. However, you would be surprised to find the amount of relief that accompanies simply sharing what’s going on in your mind. It doesn’t have to be someone from your family – it could be a trusted adult, a teacher, a counsellor or a professor. Increase your circle of trust to include those who wish well for you and have open and honest conversations with them.

Find a way to detox: Constantly thinking and worrying about career, colleges, employment, exams, socialising, friends and relationships can take a toll on your psychological well-being. Your negative thoughts can overwhelm you quickly. You need to find an appropriate outlet to vent these thoughts so as to detox and cleanse your mind on a regular basis. The trick is to identify what really works for you. It could be writing a journal, a poem, creating art, creating music or playing a sport. The idea is to make sure that your brain has a suitably healing channel to off load the stress it takes and reduce the mind’s clutter.

Identify the stressors: The next time you are feeling particularly vulnerable, depressed or anxious; take a moment to observe what the trigger point was for your reaction. Did a conversation about your future invoke anxiety, or did your friends’ activity on social media put you off? With so many distractions vying for our attention, it is easy to be unduly influenced by any and every one of them. Identifying what is bothering you is an important step in the process of healing. Because you can then take appropriate actions to minimize the impact of the same: be it a friend who always discusses entrance exams or others’ social media actions.

Seek information from trusted sources: More often than not, sources of depression and anxiety are confusion, misinformation and lack of understanding complex issues and things. Identities are formed, options are explored and a sense of belonging is cultivated in teenage and adulthood – but these developments come with an immense pressure of making the right choices. Unfortunately, many are turning to the internet for answers to their questions, as opposed to asking someone trusted in real life. Instead of seeking unverified and often incorrect information, approach someone you trust to give you information and support that really works for you.

While technology (and the information overload that comes with it) has the potential to adversely impact the way we choose to know more about ourselves, the same technology, when used appropriately, can come to your rescue. Several reliable online platforms offer psychological assessment and counselling. Such technology-driven platforms and the assessment and intervention they offer can help you identify your psychological issues objectively and scientifically, that could be followed by further evaluation and intervention in brick and mortal mental health centres. Many professional are using such online platforms as they offer anonymity to their clients, are affordable to them and the professionals and are not as daunting as visiting a psychiatrist for sessions.

Keep an eye out: Last, ensure that you do not miss the red flags from your friends and classmates about mental health issues. If you notice a friend or classmate going through abrupt changes in behaviour, withdrawal from activities, excessive anger, dipping grades, substance abuse, or anything remotely troubling - make sure you reach out to them. Engage them in honest conversations, and refrain from giving advice, unless explicitly asked for. The simple act of lending an ear is likely to benefit them a lot, but if you feel that their thoughts and ideas are troubling, involve a trusted adult who is likely to help them. Often, a mental health professional such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist may need to get involved, if the psychological issue is of a clinical nature and required professional intervention. Such intervention could be in the form of pharmacotherapy and/or psychotherapy/counselling, depending on the nature and severity of the issue at hand.

Experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, helplessness or being confused about your identity are challenges that most teenagers go through. What you need to keep in mind is that feeling a certain way, seeking help or confiding in a confidant about your situation is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a dark secret that needs to be protected at any cost. Mental health conditions are not your fault. They raise due to an interplay of complex genetic, familiar and socio-cultural factors that we, as a society, are only beginning to acknowledge and comprehend. Look at it this way: when you play sports and engage in exercise with the goal of keeping your body fit, why not extend the same respect and make the same effort to keep the most important part of your being, your mind, healthy?

This article has been authored by Prashant Banerjee, Senior Manager, Marketing, Pearson Clinical & Talent Assessment (PCTA). 

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