The road to accepting your own self is a long and tedious one for everyone. But for those who wake up every morning to continue their battle against mental health issues, the road can look endless. But that is the essence of it, there is no end to this journey. We learn how to become better versions of ourselves with every passing day and every day we learn a bit more of ourselves in this process. There will be times when you could feel the worst in your own body and mind but you can be so much stronger as you slowly overcome that. There will be days when nothing seems right and you would want to give up working towards self-growth and in those days, find strength in others and their words. Do not let one day hinder you. If you feel tired and weak, rest but do not quit. Self-love is easier to preach but so much more difficult to embrace. Social media portrays everything as flowery sunshine and rainbows wrapped under a neat bow-tie whereas reality is far true from that. Do not compare your own progress to others and also remember that your self-love can be much different from someone else’s’. To you, accepting your own brain and its twists and turns and learning to embrace it can be your self-love and to someone else waking up a bit earlier to develop a new habit can be self-love. There is absolutely no limit to what self-love is and the various forms it can take. I refer to it as an abstract entity because it is one, it isn’t a tangible goal that you achieve but rather a process, a habit you develop. In the meantime, while you think about what self-love means to you and develop them, try a few different things to see what works for you. Speaking a few words of encouragement to your own self every morning can be a good place to start. Only if you believe in yourself can you truly begin the process of growth and self-care and love. The first step is the scariest but once done, you will start to run in no time. Remember there is no true definition of self-love, it can be whatever you want it to be and is ever-changing. Here’s all the luck in the world to your path to discovering what self-love looks like to you!.
Trigger warning: Mentions of death and trauma.
Such a deceptive word. Such an abstract concept. Such an elusive feeling.
But the guardians of peace, they’re as real and tangible as you and I. The Armed Forces lead lives that most of us cannot and they do so willingly, without an ounce of doubt or hesitation. And their mental health issues are as real and tangible as ours.
Those of us who lead relatively safe and peaceful lives do not appreciate the Army enough. Most troopers go unacknowledged and unnoticed despite their valiant attempts to safeguard our lives, and needless to say, once they retire, they do not get the right emotional support as they rightfully should.
‘Service Before Self’ is the motto of the Indian Army, and while it is very honourable, one has to wonder if it is a healthy idea. The ugly truth is that 11% to 20% of veterans suffer from mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, stemming from their experiences in war.
Not many of us are familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and so don’t recognize the symptoms that are right in front of our eyes. As the name suggests, a person develops PTSD due to trauma suffered in the past. In veterans, the trauma may be caused by killing someone, watching someone die, or even due to the sheer number of threats they face every day. It can be anything that is shocking and/or impactful enough for the person to feel disturbed by it. In fact, some veterans even see the intense training they go through as traumatic.
PTSD manifests itself in several ways. Some common symptoms are insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety and panic attacks, which will eventually lead to the person falling into a depression.
Army veterans are more commonly susceptible to PTSD in the form of insomnia and depression. Ever heard of soldiers unable to sleep due to recurring violent dreams? Chances are high that they are suffering from insomnia. Ever felt seen a veteran insisting on always being armed, scouting out all the exits in a place, and jumping at even the tiniest sounds? That could very well be anxiety and restlessness. All of which are indicators of PTSD.
So the question is, how do we deal with PTSD? Well, this is a very harmful mental health issue and needs to be treated immediately by qualified medical professionals. However, here are some quick tips that might help in the meantime:
- Go Outdoors: It is an old saying that there is no medicine quite like fresh air, and let me tell you, our elders knew what they were talking about. People suffering from PTSD quite commonly feel suffocated or claustrophobic, and pursuing outdoor activities like swimming and jogging can help in clearing your head, and will also help in improving your physical health.
- Develop Trust: Lack of trust and hopelessness accompany any and all forms of depression, and people suffering from PTSD, in particular, experience restlessness and anxiety because of loss of trust in people around them. So the solution is to trust that you are safe. Trust in the future. And most importantly, trust in yourself.
- Get Support: There is nothing wrong in asking for help. Confiding your worries in at least one person and getting support from them will prove to be extremely helpful. There are so many loved ones waiting to support and encourage you. The only thing you need to do is ask.
- Ground Yourself: When you feel a panic attack coming on, or when you feel depression weighing down on you, try to calm yourself down through small distractions. You can try humming your favourite song, or counting to 1000, or even reciting the alphabets backwards. If you are in a quiet place, you can also practice meditation or pranayama. They not only help in regulating your body functions but also prove effective in stopping your attacks.
We often think of army men and women as being these infallible heroes. And while they deserve to be celebrated as such, one has to remember that they are as much flesh-and-blood as any living being, and hence frequently fall prey to illnesses.
Because denial is the first barrier to treating PTSD; it’s not only the people around who are in denial but oftentimes the people themselves deny that there is anything wrong with them. This is especially true of veterans, who easily dismiss the symptoms of PTSD and other disorders because they feel that they do not have the liberty to show weaknesses.
What they don’t realise is that our weaknesses are what make us human.
Team LonePack salutes all soldiers and veterans, and wishes them a very happy National Army Day!
Thank you for your service.
A New Year signifies everything good and positive about this world, and about us, because it not only brings with it the chance to eat desserts and enjoy being around people you love, it also gives you the chance to start afresh. You’re given a clean slate to sketch your own Mona Lisa, or to write your own sonnet.
And while we’re on the topic of writing, what about the most important (and probably the most fun) part of New Years? Yes! Resolutions!
Resolutions remain an integral part of starting over. Not only are they fun to think about and formulate, but they are also the rules we set for ourselves that keep us grounded for the rest of the year. But there are those who look past the fun and stress over following them to the dot. My advice to those folks? Don’t!
It is like a rite of passage that you end up forgetting at least one of the resolutions you make for the new year, and that’s fine. Yes, we do solemnly swear to uphold them, but it’s completely okay to change those goals, or even deciding that you don’t gel well with them. In the end, what matters is that you do the best for yourself, your health and your future.
Are you having trouble coming up with resolutions? Wondering what could be both easy to uphold and, at the same time, is good for you? Here are some of LonePack’s suggestions of resolutions that will help you improve your mental and physical health:
- Get enough sleep
‘Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise’ is something each of us has heard at least a million times in our childhood, and while I don’t know about the other two, a good amount of sleep is essential to maintaining your health. Doctors say that 8 is the optimum number of hours to sleep at night, but what is crucial is that it’s 8 hours of continuous, deep sleep. So this New Year, pledge to get 8 hours of proper sleep, and it is guaranteed that you can start each day fresh and on a positive note.
- Commit to learning/doing something new
Painting, palmistry, kung fu or kayaking; developing a hobby can be helpful in many ways. It not only a productive use of your time but is also known to calm your nerves and prove a relaxing activity. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive like calligraphy or sculpting; it can be as simple as learning one new word a day. So what’s your fancy?
- Maintain a diary/journal
Maintaining a diary or a journal gives you a sense of purpose; a clear direction, and the routine activity helps maintain your peace, too. Writing, in itself, is a cathartic activity and can help you destress and process your feelings more thoroughly. Putting your thoughts down on paper is tantamount to speaking to a therapist or confiding in someone; it is, in fact, easier than that. You won’t need to worry about confidentiality or judgement; what you write is your own. So go ahead and pen your thoughts down!
- Start practising yoga or other physical activities
Exercise of any kind goes a long way in keeping both mentally and physically healthy. Be it Zumba, yoga, table tennis or skipping; keeping your body fit is of the utmost importance. Research shows that half an hour of any physical pursuit acts as an antidepressant and helps improve your mood significantly. Now, I understand that exercise can be hard for a lot of people, and you may find yourself lacking motivation, but constantly reminding yourself of the reason why you started in the first place, should do the trick! Also, whenever you feel like you want to quit, ask yourself this: ‘Will I regret this decision tomorrow?’ These are just two different ideas, but the truth is, if you persevere, anything is possible!
- Restrict your tech-time
This one is infinitely more important, especially in this era dominated by smartphones and laptops. People don’t have the time or interest to go out and socialize, because hey, what are Facebook and Insta for, right? Immersing yourself in smart devices or other technology for prolonged amounts of time is extremely harmful, as it not only impacts your body physically but also affects your mental wellness. Meeting other people is immensely beneficial in improving your mood and health because humans are social animals. You don’t even have to worry about starting a conversation; every single person in the world speaks the language of smiles. So go out, smile at a stranger, watch the magic unfold!
And finally, as we stand at the precipice of something new, filled with the joy gained from our highs and the wisdom from our lows, it is important that we look back and be grateful for all that has happened to us this past 12 months.
Be it that job promotion, or the loss of a loved one; be it the exhilarating trekking adventure that you went on, or the friend who betrayed you; be it the smiles you radiated, or the tears you shed, everything that you have gone through, willingly or not, has shaped you into the person you are today. Yes, there may have been painful times, maybe even more than the happier ones, but you’ve survived it all, and you’re here right this moment, at the dawn of a new chapter of your life, and that is something to be thankful for.
So this New Year, let’s all pledge to embrace the past and enjoy the present.
Team LonePack wishes you a very happy and healthy New Year!