The road to Self-Love

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!. 

New Year Resolutions for the New You!

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!

 

One,Two and Three – A 3 step process to reboot your mind

If you want to change your actions, you have to change your thoughts. If you want to change your thoughts, then you have to change the way you perceive yourself. If you want to change your perception about yourself, you must change the experience.

Yes, an experience with your true self.

 

Often, we approach fixing problems like developing an algorithm. An algorithm has a few major components – the inputs, the processing logic/storage and the output. Quite frankly, that is analogous to how our mind works. It observes the actions, words and emotions of others in our environment, stores it in the database called the subconscious and we somehow adapt to these actions, thoughts, emotions without even realizing we are doing it.

But, often what we consider self-awareness is more of what we are NOT than what we really are. We tell ourselves things based on comparison with other people. After every task you complete, your mind automatically compares the same kind of task done by someone else in a different manner, hence implying you didn’t do your best.

This never ending fight with your self-image, leaves no room for growth.

The reality is the polar opposite of what we tell ourselves. No matter how disgusting our delusions are, how negative we think of ourselves, how we judge ourselves, we are human. We have infinite potential, to pause, refresh, and resume. The three step process.

It’s a 3 step process!

Every single time a notification pings in your mind that reads ‘ YOU CAN’T DO THIS ‘ , PAUSE.

Instead of berating yourself that you cannot do it, switch to ” I DEFINITELY CAN DO THIS GREAT” condition yourself to the opposite of what your irrational thoughts are telling you. Thus, you are refreshing your negative self-talk.

Finally, resume doing whatever you were doing with a bit more self-compassion, and a lot of love.

 

Constantly feeling the need to do something, to be occupied with work is the fear driven trap, sometimes based on experiences of previous trauma.  Our mind uses it as an escape mechanism to avoid dealing with inconvenient emotions.

 

Let’s do this affirmation, pause for a moment. And think of this beautiful word that the internet came up with, called “Sonder”. It’s not an actual word in the English dictionary, though “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows”, the website that created it, defines it as the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

We share our world with 7.7 billion others like that. People lose their loved ones, their dream, their homes,  sometimes themselves and yet wake up the next morning and hustle. Some grieve about it for days and heal in isolation, Some grieve by destroying things, while some heal by creating new.

Each of us are finding ways to be happier, to seize the moment as it is, to love, to be loved.

We’re all so strong, even on the days when we feel like choking on sadness,

On the days we feel heavy, on the days we feel the void inside us, on the days we don’t feel like moving.

Why? Because we find a way – we keep going. No matter how many times we’ve told ourselves to give up. In reality we don’t really lose, we don’t really fail, we don’t actually give up.

We’re always told we will be where we want to be with whom we’re meant to be. But we are there right now, where we belong.

It warms my heart to know, to be around each and every one of you. You are so strong and you don’t even know that yet. Also, did I tell you that you did your best this week?

 

And it’s okay even if you do 0.001% more the upcoming week.

 

 

– Haniya Ahmed

 

 

 

 

 

Build the wall – Why emotional boundaries matter

I read this quote the other day by Paul Ferrini. It goes

“Those who have the greatest need to tell others what to do have the least faith in themselves”

Emotional distance is important even if it may seem difficult

 

Okay, story time. My grandmother is a 74 year old woman. A very fascinating story about a human who does not hold any triumphs or trophies to her name but managed to achieve a lot. Her father died the same year she was born in a fire accident. Losing her husband to this tragedy had made her mother reckless, helpless and left with no purpose to live but for her daughter, and for the child inside of her. She then gave birth to another beautiful child, my grandmother’s younger sister.

She had gone through the loss of her husband and was widowed with two daughters. One night she left the child unattended in the cradle. The next morning she woke up to see her infant dead. Drowned in self blame and guilt she decided to end her life as an act of balancing the death of her child. Left alone was my one year old grandmother.

She was married to my grandfather when she was 14. Sixty years, 5 children and 8 grandchildren later she still longs for the love of her mother. She says it crushes her heart to not be able to remember how her father looked like, how soulful her mother sounded like. She grew up listening to stories about them from her grandparents.But one thing that astonishes me the most is her devotion towards family. Yes, I said devotion.

Solitude in childhood can shape our thoughts later in life. Picture Courtesy: “Then they rise” – Spirit Fire Art

Growing up with nothing, the idea of having someone to call family means the world to her. Her mind is wired in such a way that she thinks she owes the people who do the smallest gesture such as helping her cross the road. She remembers the most microscopic details of her encounters with every person she ever met. Somehow, she has lived 74 years of her life constantly thinking about whom to fix it for next. The ‘fixer’ in her forced her to believe that the sole purpose of her life was to make the lives of her loved ones, strangers who impacted in the slightest way too, easier. And somehow she forgot to live for herself. Overcoming a loss or post trauma, your subconscious builds a pattern that convinces you to interfere and repair it for others.

When you try to fix someone, even with the noblest of intentions it is very significant for you to realise that you serve as a block in their growth and learning process. Hurdles in life are nothing but lessons in disguise.

Stop projecting your fears onto the people you try ‘helping’. This calls for a reality check on your behavioural patterns. Your inability to face your fears,acknowledging your coping mechanisms, channelising them into productivity forces you to find an alternative way of dealing with things, by doing it for others.

The aftermath of mental illness, creates an undeniable pressure to try and save anyone else who is going through the same.

IT IS NOT YOUR JOB. 

Initially, the guilt takes a toll on you but isn’t that the beginning of self love? Being able to say NO. Being able to establish emotional boundaries is the first step of healing.

Protect your mental well being.

Respect their individuality,because we are all grown ups who can make choices that benefit us the most. As strange as it may seem, it is necessary for us to accept their decision.

The outcome of healing is not “ I don’t feel negative anymore” is not the end result of healing. It is “This negativity does not determine my self worth”

 

Haniya Ahmed

Sunday-ing and taking ME Times

Warning: Use of derogatory terms in writing. 

Fast moving world, this is how I picture it in my head. The busy streets of New York, hundreds of people walking past the Times Square with caffeine in one hand and their mobiles on other. Nobody knows where the person right next to them is headed to, they walk together in total sync for minutes and then turn to their own directions and part ways. Nobody has the time to pause, to reflect. Sometimes it is scary to realise that every passing second of your life is the first and the last time of its occurrence in this version of reality, in this lifetime. Waking up every day, there is always a routine of activities ahead of us that we do throughout the entire day. School, college, work, home anywhere we go the schedule holds us hostage. 

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At the end of the day there is very little time left for ourselves. So, every dawn a voice deep down inside of you encourages you to do better today than yesterday. This voice is unique for everyone. One day it says be kind to others, the next day it says be kind to yourself.

It’s bitter sweet that we don’t live alone in this world. There are people, many people around you. Some make it easier for your voice, while some seem very hard to understand. And it’s natural for us to judge them. If you’re lucky, you’re right a couple of times but you know-Maybe the girl with the “social butterfly” status, who is currently with her 6th boyfriend whom you call a ‘slut’ misses the one true love that happened to her, her first love. Maybe the boy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls and is always with his books needs an 85% to continue his studies with a scholarship to support his widowed sick mother. Maybe the girl who starves in the name of dieting for the so-called ‘boy attention’  has an eating disorder that doesn’t help her gain weight but saves herself pizza every weekend. Maybe the guy who doesn’t hang out with the “Stud-gang” is suffering from stage 3 lung cancer, so he rather stays home writing the novel he always wanted to finish.  Maybe the boy who broke up with every girl he was ever with had a mother who left him for another man when he was just 4.  You know, just maybe.

 

Our job isn’t to fix anyone around us. Every person you meet has a different perception of you, you are bad in someone’s stories and good in others. Somehow we equate our self worth to others perception of yourself and thrive to make it perfect without accepting the fact that it is going to change anyway. 

Self-worth is not your list of achievements, in many dysfunctional families there are comparisons of the siblings involved, one might be smart while the other might be smart in a completely different sense. Pointing people out for their flaws isn’t going to help “change” them and we ought to realise this.

We often think we need to take ‘breaks’ or ‘pause’ or ‘unplug’ only if a very tight and serious schedule was a prerequisite. I mean it is not entirely our fault, we assume our self worth to be equivalent our productivity level and our list of achievements. So, I’m here to tell you. It might sound hideous to a regular person about why anyone would deserve a break if they didn’t work hard enough but a depressed person, takes their entire energy to wake up from his bed and is left with nothing for the whole day.

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Mental breaks are essential. Necessary to reboot yourself, cleanse your system, do relearning of your patterns. A few ways to do this creating something from the learning. People resort to painting, drawing, craft making, writing and journaling, creating music, cooking, exercise and more.  Always find something that makes you forget the world for a minute and do it with love every time you feel the need to do it.

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Happy ME TIMEs to you!

 

 

 

“Boxing Away” Mental Health

“You have social anxiety? No way! You just spoke on stage, stop complaining”

“Yeah right, you aren’t an introvert. You aren’t shy and you’re talking to me well right now aren’t you?”

 

Well, count these as the most common responses I’ve gotten when I tell people that yes, I do indeed suffer from anxiety and yes, I also realise that I spoke on stage right now. Those two aren’t mutually exclusive. 

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[Image source: Tumblr]

A lot of our perspectives on mental health issues are drawn from what we see on social media. Films that are seeming to include more characters that cover the spectrum of mental health still have a long way to go when it comes to covering them practically. And the rise of internet “slangs” aren’t helping the situation. You see, mental health is not just one thing. Depression is not just “feeling sad” all the time. Not everyone who has depression fit the “symptoms” of depression. There are many who can function normally, still be social but still suffer from overwhelming depression. Same goes for any other mental health issues there are. Personally, the biggest problem that I’ve faced has come in the form of “boxes”.

Allow me to digress for a bit. Everyone you meet is different. They have different personalities and different tastes in music and movies and hobbies. And the same goes for their mental health as well. Ask people you know who are overcoming mental health issues and you will find that none of their experiences is similar even though they might have been diagnosed with the same issue. It is ignorant of us to assume that everyone deals with their issues the same way or goes through the same thing. And with people lacking this awareness, there arise situations in which people assume it is okay to make generalisations and comments, essentially stereotyping mental health into set “boxes”.  

I deal with anxiety and am not an overly social person. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any friends or that I’m shy. I just take some time to talk to people I’ve just met and if I’m with my friends while meeting the new person then I feel so much better and at ease talking to the person for the first time. A lot of people who might be going through the same social anxiety that I am can be shy and just not talk or can be extremely social yet still feel overwhelmed and nervous inside. But all that people see is that I am a competitive stage speaker and hence, I am suddenly not allowed to feel that anxiety pumping through my veins every time I come onto the stage to speak. I realise that feeling stage fright and nervousness are common to everyone but feeling extremely overwhelmed yet pushing yourself to speak through the knots in your stomach is not. But even though the anxiety is overwhelming, I still love to speak on stage. And I refuse to be boxed away for that.

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[Image source: Tumblr]

Everyone you know is going through something that might not fit your assumptions. Chrissy Teigen and Adele openly spoke up about post-partum depression while under the public’s eye and we did not know that they had gone through that until they told us. Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most charismatic people in interviews but has openly stated that she suffered from severe anxiety. A lot more examples can be drawn to make this point but at the end of it all, the only thing that matters is that people turn a little bit more understanding when it comes to how mental health issues manifest themselves. 

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[Image source: Pinterest]

If someone tells you that they’re going through something, listen to them. Please do not make generalisations and make them think that their feelings are invalid. The world is a very kind and welcoming place and a little bit of awareness with these issues is all one will need to help a thousand more. Let us not box away mental illnesses or file them away under certain tabs. These issues are complex and we can all do our bit to spread information and awareness. 

 

Not Alone: Coming to terms with my Mental Health [Trigger Warning]

Trigger warning: skin peeling, mentions of self-harm, nightmares and grief

Think about this for a solid minute.

“You’re 16. What problems you’d possibly have to suffer depression?” ” You are simply over thinking” “You’ll get over it” “There’s no such thing as depression, it’s just a phase”.

Sound familiar?

You see, depression is a very personal feeling. I might be sitting right next to you, joking around about the memes you’ve shared with me or having a very deep conversation about life and the purpose of it or maybe just sitting there, hanging out with you and yet, you will have no idea of the things that go on inside my head.

For almost a year, I slept only around 3 AM. And even then, I would experience nightmares where this soul of mine would be pleading, crying my name out really loud in the darkness; most of the times in the middle thick dark woods. Walking with my friends in school, I’d feel like someone was choking me, trying to push me down and drown me. I used to hysterically cry and begin to laugh very loudly just like a baby, locking myself in my room. I’d cry all night, not knowing why.

This became worse when one night I became downright delirious, trying to make the pain go away, trying to hurt myself while also rubbing my chest to calm myself down. Physically, I had developed so much acne, a very irregular menstrual cycle and a weak immune system. And yes, I even periodically suffered strokes. I’d bite my lips, nails, keep peeling my skin.

What made me such a monster in my own eyes?

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[Image source: Gemma Correll]

I’d say the fear of losing my identity that involves this image that I’ve built for myself.  We are not perfect and we will never be. All of us have our own flaws and we learn and grow through our experiences in this journey of life. And it is necessary to go through these experiences in order to learn from them. But never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

We all are very familiar with motivational quotes, “This too shall pass” “Love yourself” “I’m proud of you” do the rounds on social media all the time. But just saying them out loud isn’t enough. Start small, get help if you feel like you can’t make through this journey of acceptance alone. For me, the fact that I wake up ALIVE every morning, the fact that I’m able to still breathe and body is functioning, is something to be grateful for; granting me another day.  The little things, the journey. I accepted.

After the longest time, I saw myself in the mirror and smiled for once.

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The fact that I’ve been gifted time, ability to take another chance at people and perspectives made me understand that things will start working out, at least someday. Healing can NEVER happen overnight, it is a long road, it’s every single moment you live.

And slowly but surely, you will get better. In fact, it’ll be revolutionary when you wake up one day and can actually feel light enough to pull yourself out of your own bed. There will be struggles and relapses, but there will also be support and love and kindness.

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Depression isn’t directly proportional to your age group. Depression doesn’t know numbers, doesn’t know care about your sexual orientation or your bank balance. Never ever feel shy to accept this, you’re no less of a human being you deserve to be equally loved.

YOU MATTER. There’s Absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of in acceptance.

More power to you.

Feeling Homesick In My Own Body

Imagine if there was a machine, that can alter the way you look according to your wish. How cool is that? Every time you see yourself in the mirror your brain mentally opens a tab creating a list of things you want altered. The list might want clear skin, thinner waist, perfect hair, sharp jawline, shaped muscles, toned abs and never really ends.

What if we were in control of how we look? Whom would we want to look like? Most likely, the actors, the models we see on magazine covers, the beauty bloggers on social media, essentially someone who isn’t us. In a world where self-worth is measured in the number of likes and comments present beneath the picture you upload online after an hour of corrections and filters, it is not really your fault if you seek validation, even though it is indeed only virtual.

pic 1Now, comparison. It is an immediate reaction, to compare yourself with something you seek to achieve to look like. Sometimes, it is to keep track of the process of you wanting to become like them and in other cases, it is to beat yourself up because you will never be able to look like them.

Am I good enough? Am I worthy? Do I feel secure about my body?

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We are no strangers to these questions. Answer to this, however, is the same, Self-love. You were created by someone who created galaxies, moved mountains, made the sea kiss land as waves, diverse coexistence of all life forms thrives and every passing second, two million cells in your body die, to be regenerated. It is only foolish of you to think you are any less of a miracle.

Your hands, they have touched the rough edges of the shells you collected during your first trip to the beach, they have wiped your tears at 3 AM when you felt like giving up.

Your feet that you walked to the place holding your favourite memory.

Your eyes, have shown you the most beautiful things, the faces of people you love. From the first glimpse of your best friend after ages to the optical illusion puzzles, you see on the internet.

Your mouth that has said things to people and made them smile, feel loved.

Your belly that growled in the middle of a silent class making it awkward, how full it felt every time you did stress eating.

Your heart that broke for the first time, warm when your mom hugged you after a long day at work, or simply when you see a dog.

Your ears when you hear the song you finally find after not being able to stop humming its tune.

Self-love starts with gratitude, with affirmation. In simple words to be thankful to your body because it is functioning properly.

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Beautiful is stretch marks, cellulite, zero thigh gap, flat stomach, tummy rolls, acne, uneven and thick eyebrows, pale skin, melanin, waist of any number on the scale, skinny legs, no hair, more hair. Beautiful is everything you are. Self-love is a dynamic and deeply rooted journey, but let us start with level one. With our bodies. Wake up and see yourself in the mirror without opening a tab inside for alterations. Thank your body, feed it, nurture it, love it.