MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “mental health”

Booster talks

© Bill Reynolds

I talk to them”.

The globally renowned herbologist’s answer to how her plants grow healthier and faster than average stunned the reporter.

Studies have shown that talking to plants helps them grow faster. I believe the sound of a soft, caring voice is perceived as vibrations, and plants can sense the love you give to them. Kind of like humans or animals do”.

“But they also give something back. When I’m in my greenhouse, I also get a much-needed psychological boost. Spending time with and around my green-leafed friends can be calming and it promotes good mental and physical health”.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Protect your peace

There comes a time when you need to accept that your peace of mind is more important than anything else.

If we constantly place ourselves in a state where we feel we need to keep everyone else happy, sometimes even exceeding our own limits and sacrificing our own wants to please others, we will soon find that we’re losing ourselves. Let alone wrongly exploiting our time and energy.

We need a motive for everything we do. Subconsciously, that is how it all works. Even if it is simply feeling acknowledged, appreciated, respected, valued or love, we need to sense that there is a purpose in the efforts we make.

When things fall apart from the slightest misunderstandings, from things wrongly perceived, or merely from having too many expectations, the disappointment is usually too much to bear.

And that’s when it all comes crashing down.

Because for as long as you’re hyperactive, keeping everything in motion, the ball rolls smoothly. Once the slightest hiccup occurs and something stops – even if for a millisecond – you realise how much you’re coping with, trying to juggle so much more than you can withstand.

We need to learn to be done, not mad, not bothered, just done.

We need to protect our peace at all costs. It’s what matters most. For if we don’t have a healthy mental state, nothing else really matters.

Languishing

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Do you feel it too? It’s quite common nowadays. That sense of not moving forward, of being underproductive, of aimlessly drifting in life. There is a term coined for it: it’s called languishing. Quite the opposite of flourishing, it’s the sensation of feeling empty and stagnant. Of feeling “blah” and “meh”. It’s the loss of purpose that two years in a pandemic have caused. That absence of meaning for anything we do.

As this NY Times article explains: “Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness”.

People worldwide have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to a level they cannot explain. Hence, the term invented for this inexplicable feeling. We are dispirited, discouraged to do more. It often appears that we’ve lost the will to do something astounding because we see no point in it anymore. Our mental health is perhaps our most valuable asset and what has been most severely affected by this pandemic. Yet, we usually don’t recognise it, sometimes because we don’t want to admit it, and most times because we can’t really explain what it is that’s wrong.

We’re angry more often than usually. We become irritated by the slightest of things – by the tone of a person’s voice, the queues at the supermarket, the agitation in traffic jams, the high prices, the stalling of public transport, the inefficiency of the public service… anything can spark a distress that is difficult to mentally control. And then it becomes a domino effect of things going wrong, adding to the existing stress and the thoughts about the futility of it all.

Counsellors advise you to name your emotions, to get in touch with your inner self through mindfulness, to take it easy and give yourself time to go through the process, to relax and enjoy things as much as possible, to generally ‘be present’. We are told to focus on small goals because they are more easily achievable and bring satisfaction all the same. To transcend this feeling we need to start small, acknowledging, however, what we’re dealing with. Managing mental challenges is a feat in itself. Immerse yourself in what you do, be it a project of any kind, or a Netflix marathon; if it absorbs your uninterrupted attention it will help keep your mind off existential questions. It also helps to speak to like-minded people, who keep you calm and optimistic about life. Changing the scenery also helps, from redesigning a room to travelling abroad.

Languishing is not a disease that can be healed. It is a state – of mind, of psyche, whatever you may call it – that is greatly affected by the circumstance in which we live. Perhaps not everything is in our hands to control, but the way we react is. What we can do is realise that the best way to defeat whatever is bringing us down is to face it head on, and simply not let it. Whatever disrupts our mind, is what overpowers it and guides it too.

Let’s go

©MCD

Let’s take the ferry. We’ll be on a different island in just a few minutes. It’s as simple as that.

All it requires is a decision.

But often that’s the hardest thing to take.

We’re too indecisive when it comes to the issues that contribute to a healthy mentality and lifestyle. We’re too caught up with a strict routine, daily pressure, and tight programmes.

But we tend to overthink the insignificant matters, those that result in a mental burnout, in a psychological exhaustion, and in an unjustifiable stress.

Take the boat and leave. Whenever you can. Let your mind wander. Allow your gaze to get lost along the waves, across the horizon, traveling with the wind.

And if you ever too far and need saving, there’s always a life vest somewhere near to rescue you.

The straw breaking the camel’s back

In a period dominated with too much fatigue on all levels, it doesn’t take much anymore to make you flip. There is so much aggregated exasperation mounting up inside that all it requires is one small thing for the entire situation to get out of hand and for your nerves to go rampant.

It’s like that Arabic proverb – the straw that broke the camel’s back – about how a camel is loaded beyond its capacity to move or stand. It is a reference to any process by which cataclysmic failure (a broken back) is achieved by a seemingly inconsequential addition, a single straw.

When you’ve gathered so much frustration, when you’ve tolerated too much beyond your capacity for patience, when you’ve exceeded your own limits too many times, it is the slightest of things that makes you erupt.

And remember, a volcano exploding has been accumulating its lava for long before it actually lets it all loose.

The good thing is that you do feel relieved after releasing all that pressure. But you also feel exhausted. Because this is neither normal nor healthy.

We know what we need to do to have better mental and physical health. Yet we so often allow circumstances to dominate over us.

That’s the real problem: we allow others to take control of how we react.

Reprogramming a lifestyle

You know why we refuse to accept something we cannot control? Because we can’t handle uncertainty. We are not wired to ‘go with the flow’ and let things happen. People are impatient. And insecure. We need to know that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to things. Otherwise, we go insane.

This year has been strange and extraordinary in every sense and at every level. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a serious strain not only on global healthcare systems, but on our mental health as well.

People can’t handle so many restrictions and so many recurring constraints.

But most of all, they can’t accept being told what to do, or rather, what not to do.

We can’t breathe with masks on because we’re told we need them. We feel we’re being deprived of oxygen because that is what our mind is telling us.

In every lockdown, we remember the need to go outside, to walk, run, cycle, swim, and sit in the park under the sun. Yet, during our ‘normal’ lives we may hardly even go out onto the balcony for some fresh air, spending the entire day in front of a screen at a an office.

And now, that screen is our way of communicating with the world.

Ironic. Tragic. Call it what you will. But this new reality has caused an irrevocable change to what we consider ‘normal’.  And the things we consider as a given or as common sense.

The world has hit pause and forced us to reconsider everything we considered ‘ordinary’. We need to reprogramme our entire lifestyle and way of thinking, working and living at whatever life stage we currently find ourselves.

The worse thing about the recurring and long-drawn lockdowns is that we’re challenging our own minds, the limits of our sanity, the strength of our beliefs, and the potency of our optimism. The entire situation places us in the unwanted position of not knowing whether to make plans or what these can entail because we very simply do not know and cannot tell what tomorrow may bring.

Uncertainty is the root of our discomfort.  

But no matter how much we resist, complain, moan and react, there are some things that are beyond our control. A global pandemic is among them.

So if you had to answer the question “if you could be anywhere in the world, where would that be?”, what would you say?

Some would answer the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights; others at the top of Mount Everest, at the Caribbean, at a fancy resort, at your beach house, a mountain chalet, somewhere no one has been to before, anywhere you cannot be at this very moment, somewhere different to where you are.

But the truth is, the answer is not a destination. Because in pondering your reply, it’s who you want to be with that springs to mind. As you grow older, you realise it’s not really the place that matters, but the moments and people you spend them with.

In essence, everything we need is here – within us – we just haven’t acknowledged it enough so as not to worry about what is beyond our needs and control.

It’s not the place or circumstances that need to change. It is our entire lifestyle and mentality.

That inconspicuous dark cloud

It arrives abruptly and sits upon your shoulder silently at first. But then it grows heavier and you begin to feel the burden of carrying it. It grows darker the bigger it becomes and it’s even more difficult to shake it off.

Stress is like a black cloud. Inconspicuous upon arrival but may be lethal if prolonged.

We know it’s bad for us, yet we continue to fall victim to it.

We even know all the remedies for it too: meditation, deep breaths, organisation, priorities, etc etc.

But the one thing no one seems to be able to understand is that by telling someone “not to stress” does not solve absolutely anything. It simply elongates the circumstances that lead to the anxiety and nervousness in the first place.

It’s not about advice when it comes to ‘solving’ stress.

It’s about finding things and people around you that can help you get rid of that black cloud on your shoulder, simply by being too busy enjoying other things that you forget it’s even there.

When we say we’re fine

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When people ask each other “how are you?”, the response is a reflex answer of “fine, and you?”. Rarely does the question delve deeper into how the other person actually is. We ask about our news, our novelties, our gossip, work, relationships etc, but hardly does anyone actually look into how we really are; how we feel, in what mental state we are in.

This year (2020) has been hard. Almost six months have passed, and we have but a few days in which things actually progressed and we have something to show for them. Otherwise, all we have done is stayed at home, explored our neighbourhoods, developed our cooking skills, irritated the people we live with, become depressed at being alone, and wasted an obscene amount of time on Netflix and social media.

Undeniably, even doing a bare minimum – or absolutely nothing – takes a toll on our mental health. We tell each other we’re fine to believe it is true. Because if we don’t overanalyze, we won’t have to admit to ourselves that deep down we are not as great as we want to appear. We are lacking security, the freedom of movement, the capacity to make plans again, having something to look forward to, the prospect that we will get to see our loved ones again soon in a scheduled time and date without the fear of risking a new lockdown or quarantine measures being imposed on you.

We’re only as fine as we believe ourselves to be. Yet, we prefer not to talk about what is bugging us in an attempt to override it. It’s like sweeping the dust under the carpet. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Mood swings and mental breakdowns don’t necessarily need professional help to be overcome or healed. Sometimes all we really need is people around us who care enough to offer the help we don’t dare to ask for. It’s enough to know that there are friends and family there who can offer a hug, a random talk when needed, and a simple confirmation that we’re not facing things alone. Because in the end, what we all need is the sentiment that better days are coming no matter what, and the incentive to garner the patience to deal with it all.

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