Did you listen to your mind today? It’s such a simple question. After all, we listen to our bodies so many times in a day. If it’s too cold, if we are hungry, if we are thirsty — we’re almost always talking to our bodies, no? But not so for our minds. Sure we hum along reluctantly to that annoying song our cranial jukebox is stuck on, or make mental notes to remember birthdays. But when was the last time you paused and asked, “Hi mind, how are you?”
I have been thinking about our minds and us, because even though it’s 2021, our mental health is still stuck in 2020-crisis-mode. Like a consultant psychotherapist says in an article inThe Times of India on why our mental health must be top-to-do for 2021, “Life did return to normalcy after the unlock phases, but, still, the pandemic continues to haunt people. It is the need of the hour to see to it that you make 2021 the year of good mental health by not ignoring your mental well-being.” Rising COVID-19 cases has meant an increase in the cases of depression and anxiety. To make matters worse, being in isolation or under near lockdown has also meant that coping tools are no longer what they used to be.
I think a good way to start is by, pausing. If you are reading this on your phone, do you also have another screen open in front of you? If you are reading this on your laptop, how many tabs are open? (I am writing this with 13 tabs open.) How can anyone, and here I include myself, listen to the mind with so much noise?
Tabs shut? Great. Now what? While everyone’s minds differ, and so they might be saying different things, there are some common habits that experts suggest can help us be better at taking care of our mental health. Essentially, listen to our minds better. So, with the caveat that I am no doctor, just a 2020-survivor like you; here are some suggestions:
Get active. Almost every article I read before writing this letter had this as a common how-to. Whether it’s running, yoga, pilates, dancing, or hula hooping, any form of exercise releases our brain’s happy chemicals called endorphins. Doing it regularly — especially when we are all chained to our respective screens — might be a good way to listen to our brains.
Remember to rest. Work-from-home shouldn’t mean we only keep working. And neither being cut-off from the outside world means we embrace social media to always keep our minds buzzing. Pandemic burnout may just be a COVID legacy. The only way to swat the fatigue away, is to give yourself, and your mind, some rest.
Seek help, if need be. I think everyone can benefit from therapy. Or, at least having someone who is professionally qualified to speak to. But mental healthcare in India suffers the double whammy of stigma, and a lack of resources, making seeking help a quest of its own. But if you do feel like your usual tools aren’t working and if you are able to, seek professional help. And not as a last resort. (Also why this comes at number 3 on this list, and not at the end.)
Journal. Or if you don’t want to go the “Dear Diary” route, maintain a gratitude diary. Thanks to social media, our lives are constantly thrown in sharp relief compared to the highlights reel of everyone else. Maybe thinking about what we are grateful for can allow our minds a little pat-on-the-back?
Take care of your body. Which includes good sleep, eating well and self-care. For the longest time, I thought of mind and body as two separate entities. But one depends on the other, as it goes. Have you noticed how calming a warm bath can feel sometimes? Or how, if you are content with the world, your body feels more...at rest?
Looking back at these five points, I know that they don’t seem...too radical. But the thing with listening to our minds is, that there can never be common rules, right? What works for me, might not for you, and may seem ridiculous to others!
So for a change, I am ending this newsletter with a question. How do you take care of your minds? What are your go-to tools? Have they changed thanks to 2020? Or have you added more tools to your arsenal?
I will wait for your answer.
Love, Maanvi Editorial Lead Vitamin Stree
What We’ve Been Loving aka Your Favourite Reccos
1. My Life on This Road by Gloria Steinem: How did Gloria Steinem become Gloria Steinem, an era-defining feminist author and activist? And more importantly, how does she hold on to hope for a feminist world after all these years? In her memoir of her travels, Steinem writes frankly about her childhood experience which shaped her, and the people she met on the road who defined her politics. If you want to read a book that feels like a long chat with a warm, brilliant, and intelligent feminist, this is it!
2. Paava Kadhaigal on Netflix: Netflix's "Paanva Kadhaigal" is a mix of four short films talking about deep-rooted societal constraints. Thangam, which talks about the complications of anti LGBTQ+ sentiments, Love Panna Uttranum, showcasing the pro LGBTQ+ story and finally choosing love over society’s regressive outlook, Vaanmagal, tackling child rape and its hineous consequences, and Oor Iravu, talks about the male ego refusing to believe his daughter leading a better life. Some plots miss the point but overall it's a mix of all emotions, coupled with great direction and acting performances.
From Vitamin Stree This Week
1. Happy You Year, 2021! We did it! We're at the end of 2020. We went through a pandemic, loss of lives, and a once-in-a-lifetime change in the way we lived our lives. But what lessons did the "worst year ever!" leave behind? Whether it was mental health, loneliness, relationships, or our physical health — what was it about ourselves we learnt in 2020? And how can we take those lessons and make 2021 OUR year? We tell you!
2. Why is a Woman’s Virginity Considered Important? Spoken in whispers. Alluded to with metaphors. Subject of invasive tests for some young brides. What's the deal with women's virginity? Who defines what virginity is anyway? Is it biological? Is it social? And how can a tissue be a sign of virtue?
3. Some Feminist New Year Resolutions for 2021 It's that time of the year again, when new year resolutions are in vogue. How about some feminist new year resolutions to add to your list? Tiny things you can incorporate daily? We have some ideas! What are your feminist new year resolutions looking like?
4. What is Polyamory? And Why is It Misunderstood? Polyamory is an interpretation of love very different from the “happily ever after” we've grown up on. And it's definitely not for everyone. But if love is something to be celebrated. Why not be accepting of all kinds of love?
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