Finding Comfort In Chaos

Advertisements

I never thought I would write about this, but here I am trying to make some sense of it. This is going to be slightly long so stay with me.

Being in the medical field, I come across anxious and worried families of the patient all the time. A part of my job is to answer their questions, make them comfortable, ease them out to the best of my capacity. I didn’t give it much thought rather enough thought to the things they must be going through. Of course, I knew it wasn’t easy, but I naturally thought more about the patient and from a treatment point of view. And then one day, I received a phone call back in March,2018. A call that gave me the chills, gave me a different perspective and showed me what’s it like to be on the other side.

My mother had suffered a massive heart attack with multiple blockages and my fellow medical colleagues and Grey’s Anatomy fanatics will relate to this when I say we were way past the golden hour. I was away from home which made it more difficult but like my mother says by god’s grace everything went well. The first few weeks were critical, but as strong as our mothers are she fought right through it. And I told myself, the tough part is over, it was a bad phase, we will sail through it. 

Fast forward to the end of the year, both my grannies started showing similar symptoms as my mom, we rushed them for all the tests. Within a couple of days, they were both diagnosed with massive blockages and needed immediate intervention. They both got operated on the same day. One of them was badly affected and was bed ridden for a long time. It was a tough time for my family as we were juggling between them, sharing the day and night shifts and just seeing them in so much pain was very heartbreaking and overwhelming. It breaks my heart till date whenever I talk or even think about it.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a few months later my grandfather suffered from a stroke, this was his third one and got the best of him. This was followed by my brother’s massive neurosurgery, a very near and dear one’s death to covid, my father’s severe pneumonia, mom’s second big surgery and my grandfather’s untimely demise a couple of months back. Last 3-4 years have been maddening and things are still settling down accompanied with personal and professional work life balance which has been very challenging. I have been fortunate and privileged to have family and friends who supported me throughout. I wouldn’t be able to get through it without them.

Caregiver’s Stress

Advertisements

It was during this period that I experienced what we call ‘Caregivers stress’. Caregiver’s stress/burnout isn’t spoken about a lot, mostly because it is difficult to recognise,  but there are a lot of studies that discuss it at length. It’s defined as physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It often leads to development of compassion fatigue which is the stress, strain and the wariness that arises while caring for a person. Being a primary caregiver for most of my family members was not an easy task. My mom and I went through an emotional turmoil.

As majority of the medical decisions were made by me, thinking about the repercussions and bad outcomes made me anxious all the time. I was constantly overthinking and had panic attacks I would have a nervous breakdown and cry out loud sometimes. Feeling irritable, helpless, hopeless and getting angry so easily. It felt like I was slowly losing my mind and sanity. I am not writing this to impart knowledge or tell you how to deal with it. I am still figuring it out myself. But what I can tell you is that it’s okay to feel like that. Seeing your loved ones suffer is not easy. It’s okay to not be okay.

What I have learnt or rather still learning from my experience is that you need to identify it and put your needs first too. It is important to get out and indulge, be in a social environment. It is very difficult at first because the worrying never stops but it is one of the most important things and needs to be done.

Talking about it or writing it down helps too. It wasn’t easy for me to write this all down but the more I thought about it the more I realized how important it is to speak about it. Maybe it will help someone going through something similar, maybe it will just create an awareness. Acknowledging it is step one. Therapy sure did help too. On my tough days, I looked up to my younger brother who gives me so much strength and inspires me to do better each day. He encouraged me to take some time off for myself and always pushed me to move ahead.  My mom has been my anchor all this while and I am forever grateful for that.

Things have been slightly better than before; we are being hopeful and keeping the faith. This story is unfinished, there is so much still happening, and I am not waiting for a happy ending or for all my problems to disappear. At this moment, I am looking for anything good, big or small, that life has to offer.

Advertisements

Anxiety Emails

I finish 2 weeks tomorrow on my new work chair. Things for me changed overnight due to some unforeseen circumstances. From being the guy who handled back-end/internal communication and was used to resolving issues behind the scenes to being pushed into the front office to deal with clients and suppliers. 

It’s been 2 weeks, since I spent 8 hours at work stress free to spending 10 hours in front of the computer wishing the day was for 25 hours so that I had an additional hour to finish my work. It’s been 2 weeks, since I looked forward to hearing more and more from my colleagues because they used to be busy telling me about how illogical or unreasonable clients were to now feeling a couple of seconds of anxiety when I see their names flash on my phone.

It’s been 2 weeks now, since I last fired a stress – free email. From sending them to my colleagues and sellers within the system to now firing them to outsiders. I call them ‘Anxiety Emails’.

‘Anxiety Emails’

Those emails that you defer a couple of times in a day, ponder on for 60 seconds before sending and for 180 seconds after. Maybe you even go to your sent emails to verify if you’ve sent it to the right person. Or maybe you don’t relate to anything I’m telling you, in which case this may seem like a futile attempt.

Advertisements

The first time ever, that I shot out one of these, I ended up almost getting kicked to the curb. I mean, how idiotic does an educated dude have to be, to not be able to differentiate between 2 names and almost throw away his entire business plan to an outsider. BUT, that wasn’t me (IT WAS!). I am by no means an idiot (I WAS!). But it was handled and I’ve only learned from the experience.

Advertisements

But yeah, 2 weeks and 1000 emails later, it still feels like it’s my first day on the job. I still do every little thing I mentioned above. I mean, my risk appetite which earlier used to be the size of a pea is now having to deal with watermelon sized doubts that just keep on piling up. My worst case scenario, which once used to be a few abuses from my boss and a few overnight-work days to redo the entire work to potentially risking losing business and getting fired. 

Well, all I can really hope for is it gets better after the next 2 weeks or the weeks after. Because Anxiety Emails, they’re not for me; maybe they will be in the future, but they definitely aren’t right now. I mean yes, they’re enabling me to grow and handle stressful situations and learn new things; and I love the challenge too. But I still think 2 weeks ago … Those were happier times!

Did you ever think you’d find someone rant about losing sleep over emails? Oh no, I mean ‘ANXIETY EMAILS’!

Advertisements

20 Positives Of 2020 (Part 2)

Advertisements

The other day I spoke about why it is important to practice gratitude for your happiness and peace. If you haven’t read it yet, click here. I did not want to end this year on a bad note, because I have been grateful for a lot of things. So here’s an elaborate list of all the things that have come out of 2020 that have added value to my life and have a positive impact.

Ps. If you haven’t read the first part yet, click here.

11. Professional/Blog Growth and Writing

For Bombay Ficus and for me personally as a writer, the lockdown was a big win. Not only did I get more time to write and publish more content, it also allowed me to brainstorm and put forward more projects and expand the blog. 

For all our readers that aren’t aware, Bombay Ficus was birthed amidst the lockdown on 19th June, 2020. (To read about our history, click here). The lockdowns across the globe also led to increased internet activity that gave this page a boost in terms of it’s viewership and visitors, which is only encouraging for me as a blogger to write and publish more often.

I have also embarked on a journey to become an author and wrote down the first chapter to what I hope will eventually be a published book someday. (You can find my experience of the beginning as an author here)

12. Nurturing Relationships, Recalibrating Priorities and Recognising Important People

Advertisements

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I was communicating with a handful of people that I really called my own, during the lockdown. People, who made men happy and who really cared about my wellbeing. But I have to thank social media (Instagram mainly), because it also told me about what other people were upto, reminded me of people I hand’t been in contact with and it is no secret, that Instagram stories act as great conversation starter countless times.

So I did reconnect with some old friends from school and some people I’d only met recently. Over time, I started nurturing those relationships back to good health and now my inner circle consisted of more than 8-9 people. It is no secret, that conversing with the same people everyday in an uneventful period becomes tardy, so expanding the circle did help.

Here’s a half of the best part : I ended up reconnecting with my ‘on again – off again’ bestfriend from school and I think this time, we’re going to stick around for a long long time.

Here’s another half of the best part : My relationship with a not-so-old friend grew to an extent where they’ve become my favourite person and one of the best things to happen to me in 2020.

13. Getting Over Excuses

ResolutionsExcuses
“I’m going to learn the guitar this year”“Work has been crazy and I don’t get the time”
“I’m going to take up dance classes over the weekend”, etc etc “Work is so hectic, I need the weekends to relax”, etc etc

Starting April, I did have a lot of time on my hands to jumpstart on my New Year Resolutions or do something I’d always wanted to do. Which I did, initially. But as the lockdowns became the new normal, I eased into my old lifestyle and spent time lazying around watching TV or doing something unproductive. It took me a while to realise that I ended up using ‘Work’ as a convenient excuse for all the things I was too lazy to do. It was pretty convenient since no-one could question it or hold me accountable because I prioritised over what helped me earn my living.

So yeah, I stopped making excuses and started holding myself more accountable for my boring monotonous life and took necessary actions against it.

14. Digital Evolution – Webinars/Zoom Calls and Digital Development at The Workplace

As a continuation to the previous point, I started taking up classes online. I took up a 3 month dance course, trained with my trainer over online sessions and brushed up on my guitar lessons with Youtube. These were things that I would’ve always preferred doing in person, until I couldn’t.

Work-from-home was also a concept that was not too common in my line of work. Mostly because we functioned in a more traditional sense. While we had been wanting to update ourselves and be at pace with the technological developments, we always ended up procrastinating for one reason or the other, until we were forced to do it.

But COVID19 and lockdowns forced our hand and now we have a fully functioning system where working remotely is smoother than ever.

15. My Parents and My Privilege

A roof over your head, running water and working electricity. As much as you use them, you might be taking these amenities for granted. Imagine your life without these conveniences, and you’ll find every reason to be thankful for them. I never had to worry about surviving in these circumstances and was mostly protected under my folk’s roof and had a convenient time.

Advertisements

16. My Health

A lockdown meant I was not allowed to hit the gym nor go out and party or eat at restaurants. It also meant staying at home, choosing my own working hours and investing the time saved in commute to catch up on my sleep.

I researched and changed my way of working out, doing only body weight exercises (which were really nice for my joints), I focused on my mobility and saved myself from tiny niggles and injuries. Resorting to only eating home cooked food meant I was using healthier ingredients, watching what I was eating and improving my gut health. The added sleep also helped me deal with my everlasting fatigue and helped me be more calm and made me less cranky.

17. To Realise You’re Going To Be Able To Handle Adversity

@vaishnaviarote writes : This one is kind of a personal experience. Most of my family members tested positive to COVID, I even lost my beloved family member to covid.

Just when things could not get any worse, my younger sibling got diagnosed with something unusual that needed urgent surgery and left him to be dependent on people for daily activities. It felt like my whole world had collapsed. I felt like I couldn’t deal with it, but just like that I did and things have started to get better. Even when you feel like nothing is working in your favour, there will be this one thing that’ll make you have faith again and uplift you and make you believe. Remember,this too shall pass.

18. Taking care of your mental health

As the lockdown kept extending and a lot of things kept delaying along with it, my anxiety took a toll on me. I was not able to cope well with it but I was pretending like I’m okay which made it worse. A few of my friends encouraged me to seek help and that’s when I contacted a foundation that provided me with a counsellor. It’s still going on and I’m not completely alright but I’m doing a lot better. This year taught me that it’s okay to PAUSE and look out for yourself and your mental health.

19. Mental health awareness

A lot of taboo goes around mental health and how it’s merely an excuse or just in the head. This year has been very difficult for a lot of us and our mental health has gone for a toss in the bargain. I read a lot of articles about how people have been clinically diagnosed with depression and suicidal tendencies due to the anxiety, fear and loneliness that came along with this pandemic. But then along with this I also saw people making an effort to cope up. There were 24*7 helpline numbers for those who minds were going through a turmoil. People have been talking a lot more about mental health and taking it positively while supporting their loved ones.

Advertisements

20. Getting rid of toxicity

I’m going to try to explain this with a small metaphor. 

Imagine you have an allergic reaction to something but you’re not sure what it is. So you stop engaging in certain activities (like petting a dog/cat) or eating some specific foods and then slowly resume each activity one at a time. Then, you just use the elimination process to rule out an activity after another.

Similarly, things were going well for me initially during the lockdown days when I was cut off from the world. Then slowly as the lockdowns were lifted and I started interacting with people again, I was able to realise what kind of people were toxic to me or not good for my mental health and I subsequently maintained a distance from them.

Ps. We have a lot of exciting projects coming for you in 2021. So do hit the subscribe button if you’d like to keep hearing from us and thank you for being supportive and leaving encouraging comments for us. It only motivates to keep going.

Here’s wishing you a very happy and safe New Year!

Advertisements

20 Positives Of 2020 (Part 1)

Yesterday I spoke about why it is important to practice gratitude for your happiness and peace. If you haven’t read it yet, click here. I did not want to end this year on a bad note, because I have been grateful for a lot of things. So here’s an elaborate list of all the things that have come out of 2020 that have added value to my life and have a positive impact.

1. I Learnt New Skills

This is the easiest positive to begin with. Once things settled down and it was clear that lockdown and work-from-home culture was here to stay, a lot of changes took place. The primary change was that I’d end up saving time on commute and the relatively slow economy ensured lesser work assignments and ample free time at home (atleast initially, until people came to terms with it being the new normal). In order to use this free time efficiently, I ended up polishing on some of my old skills and learnt some new ones. 

I took my baking skills to another level to now be able to bake my own fresh bread, brownies and pie. I learnt to cook newer dishes from different cuisines too. I also ended up refreshing on my guitar skills, which I hadn’t played in almost 6 months. Webinars to brush up on some work related knowledge, more reading and educating myself on better ways to maintain hygiene and safety also took place.

2. I Learnt To Be More Patient

I also learnt to be more patient this year. Every person has been affected by 2020 and is dealing with it differently and it is important to respect that as well as give the other person their space and time. Things may not be available on demand as they once used to be. It was also necessary, since I was spending so much time at home with my family, which I hadn’t done in months.

Similarly, personal communication at work was replaced by zoom calls, making it more time consuming and slowing down the overall work cycle. Reports took longer and help did not come immediately. Thus, it became very important to exercise patience in these circumstances.

3. Importance of relationships

During the lockdown, the only people I got to see personally were my folks and siblings. Work carried on via zoom calls and a lot of time was spent doing house chores. At the end of the day, I ended up talking to barely a couple of close people outside my family that I actually missed or my work colleagues who I was in constant communication with.

This lockdown though, also somewhat forced me into spending more time and bonding with my family. It personified the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ for me. We took care of each other. We lifted each other up during our lows and I realised their importance especially when I heard about how lonely my friends got (the one’s who were living alone).

I had so little to worry and so many people to share my day and pass my time with.

4. Relationship priorities

Advertisements

When it was announced that the entire country was going into a lockdown, survival seemed improbable for a social butterfly like me who went drinking or partying every weekend and had a big social circle. But, I mostly spent the entire lockdown only talking to members of my family and 4 of my friends. It was only these people that I spoke about my day-to-day with. 

I realised, the people outside my inner circle were irrelevant to my happiness and in some ways, not worth the effort I was putting in to stay relevant in those social circles. I was better off saving that energy and investing in myself and people within my inner circle.

5. Work-life balance and the ability to say ‘NO’

One of the biggest cons of a work-from-home office culture is the lack of fixed office hours. While in a normal world, I’d barely work once I was out of the office or after office hours, those rules didn’t apply anymore. Thus, it became all the more important for me to set up boundaries and be able to say ‘no’ when an unnecessarily high amount of work was being sent my way or being dumped on me.

With a more relaxed and balanced lifestyle, I was able to work more efficiently and not hate my job or my bosses while feeling fatigued or close to a burnout. A proper work-life balance helped me bring my personal life back on track, brought about a good change in my lifestyle and health and also made me more efficient and happy.

6. I learnt to plan things

It was not all fun and games during the lockdown. I was supposed to do my part in the house chores, help my mother in the kitchen and work was a pain, thanks to the endless zoom calls. Simultaneously, I had also taken up a couple of online classes, had to spare an hour a day for my workouts and was pursuing my passion of writing. This required for me to plan my day properly, in order to be able to make the best use of my time. 

Another example of planning was preparing a weekly list of things. Keeping safety in mind, we would try to buy all our groceries for the entire week in one trip. That meant, preparing elaborate list of meals and buying perishables accordingly. It was way more difficult than it seemed, because supermarkets were running short of supplies and we had to make do with what we could get.

7. Finding happiness in small joys

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. While I was stripped away from all of my indulgences and it seemed like hell had broken loose, I started to find joy and get excited about the smaller things in life.

Like when I could see my Soufflé rise in the oven, or on completion of a book or finishing a post in time to publish on the blog, playing cards with my folks after dinner, etc.

It just made me realize how important it is to celebrate the more regular occurring smaller joys of life and not wait for decades until I bought my own house or a luxury car or wait for a promotion, etc.

8. Being more independent

Advertisements

Here’s something from @vaishnaviarote :

There was a point where I was living by myself for a few months and I had never entered the kitchen before. I didn’t know anything about cooking, instant noodles being an exception of course. I somehow got interested and started cooking these delicious meals all by myself while taking care of my rent, bills, laundry and work.

It was hectic but it also made me realise the pain our parents go through to provide us with all of these essential basic things and also how privileged some of us are. 

It made me a lot more confident about living by myself. I knew I could survive.

9. Needs vs Wants

COVID19 ensured that there were no appraisals or bonuses for the year. In fact, I was amongst the luckier bunch of people who got to keep their jobs and not take a pay cut. Here’s an account of what it was like to lose your job during the pandemic from our very own Esha J.

With the shutdown, my expenditures were reduced to almost a third of my usual monthly expenditures. I was not spending money on new clothes or going to malls or the movies, wasn’t eating or drinking in restaurants or pubs nor ordering-in came. I also ended up saving a ton of money which I usually spent on commute.

All I really ended up spending money on was groceries, my Netflix subscription and some utility bills. Since I lived under my parent’s roof, these expenses were also seldom often taken care of. All I needed was 20% of my actual salary to meet my needs and  an additional 10% to spoil myself. It opened my eye on a lot of wasteful expenditures I did, simply because I could.

10. The forbidden fruit is sweeter

Although I have never been someone who lives on alcohol or parties or just has to go out to the mall or movies, it was pretty easy to not engage in those activities initially.

But as time went by, I was craving to go to the movies or go to a restaurant or pub for the food and dancing. For the first time, I was actually starting to miss my workplace and my small (but well decorated) cubicle. I was just missing getting into my car and driving around the city. Atleast in the first few weeks when there was a strict lockdown.

It is only when something is taken away from you, that you realise how much it meant to you.

Note : You can check out Part 2 of our post here.

Advertisements

Practicing Gratitude : Why You Should Practice Gratitude In These Times

Advertisements

Virus. Pandemic. Lockdown. Quarantine. Unlock. Virus 2.0

Advertisements

It’s hard to stay positive when these are the words we’re being exposed to day in and day out. Of course, the fact that we’re cooped up at home  only makes the situation worse.

Over the last few months, I have read a lot of books in order to find the secret behind being happier and trying to maintain a healthy balance in life; physically, mentally and spiritually. Although different books and authors have different perspectives and methods, one of the most common amongst them is ‘Gratitude’.

It may seem like the new normal will never end, but don’t lose hope just yet. Why? Because this is a good time to remind ourselves of everything we have to be grateful for. And when you think about all the things you once took for granted.

So while you stay safe, wash your hands, and maintain social distance, also remember to add ‘practising gratitude’ to your list.

What is gratitude, though?

It is an emotion or feeling, a recognition and appreciation for what one has, that comes from acknowledging the goodness in one’s life. It opens your eyes to the fact that what you have is truly enough. Research demonstrates that the practice of gratitude can enhance overall wellbeing, and other studies have shown that people who practise gratitude are more resilient in the face of trauma. What’s more, spending a few minutes every night writing down what you’re grateful for can even help you sleep better. In short, gratitude makes us happier — and that’s definitely something we need now more than ever!

Researchers in Positive Psychology have found that gratitude and happiness are always strongly correlated. A possible theory is that gratitude moves people to experience more positive emotions, to thoroughly enjoy the good experiences, better their health, face adversity, and develop and maintain relationships of strength, which in turn makes you happier.

Advertisements

The three common ways people can express their gratitude are:

  • By being gracious of their past (i.e., think of positive childhood memories)
  • By being gracious for the present (i.e., taking time to be present and enjoy)
  • By being grateful for what’s to come (i.e., hopeful and optimistic of the future) (Giving thanks makes you happier).

There is a direct link between happiness and gratitude. Expressing gratitude brings about happiness for the one giving thanks. The more someone is thankful or feels gratitude, the less there is time or room for negative thoughts.

Oscar Wilde once said, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

Ps. Here’s a poem I wrote a long time ago about being grateful about some of the people in my lives.

Here are a few ways in which you can get started:

Maintain a journal

Close-up Of Gratitude Word With Pen On Notebook Over Wooden Desk

Count your blessings and write them down every day — be it the great cup of coffee you enjoyed in the morning or that recent video call you had with your friend. Soon, you’ll realize that you have more than you need to be happy.

Express appreciation mentally

If you can’t find the time to write every day, think about something you’re grateful for — e.g. the healthcare workers, police officers, and other essential services that are ensuring we remain safe — and be thankful for their hard work.

Meditate

While meditation usually involves a complete focus on the present moment, the practice can also be used to focus on what you’re thankful for — such as pleasant weather, a nutritious meal, or a good night’s sleep. Try the guided gratitude meditation on the cure.fit app or website to get started.

Why should you practise gratitude?

Now that you know how to inculcate the practice — and the feeling — of gratitude in your daily lives, here’s a deeper look into the myriad benefits that come with it:

Improved heart health

Being grateful helps you stay healthy. Research has shown that a positive attitude brings down the risk of depression, stress, and anxiety, all of which are factors behind heart disease. Further, according to various studies with participants that suffered from asymptomatic heart failure, individuals who were willing to see the brighter side of life and exhibit ‘trait gratitude’, slept better and took better care of themselves! Happiness, better health, and a good night’s sleep? It’s a win-win.

Stronger relationships

Of course, showing someone appreciation makes them feel good — but the effects of gratitude go even deeper than that. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude is associated with positive future relationship outcomes, while other researchers compare gratitude to auxiliary emotions that bring people closer, such as trust. So show your loved ones how much they mean to you — and go the extra mile to reach out to friends or family you may have lost touch with. Now’s the time to let people know you’re thinking of them, and how much you value them.

Better self-esteem

Yes, noticing what other people don’t have will make you feel better about yourself — but the most important part of practising gratitude is going beyond comparison to appreciate what you have. And that’s when you stop comparing yourself to others completely. This is what helps you get rid of toxic emotions such as greed and envy, and cultivate better self-esteem!

While these are compelling enough in themselves, there’s another reason you should start practising gratitude — sooner rather than later. Research shows that regular expressions of appreciation alter the molecular structure of the brain and keep grey matter functioning the way it should. Further, the feeling of gratitude activates multiple regions in the brain, boosting the production of ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin.

Advertisements

To sum up

People who practise gratitude have a positive attitude and feel better about their lives as well as their connections with others. So there’s really no reason to wait — there’s no better time than the present to remember all that we have to be grateful for.

As Melody Beattie once said,

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

So what are you feeling grateful for, today?

Advertisements

You Vs. Who?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
Advertisements

I was Cycling this morning and I noticed another cyclist about half a kilometer ahead. I could guess he was Cycling a little slower than me and that made me feel good, since I was faster.

I said to myself, “If I ride a little faster, I will catch up with him in no time”.

So I started cycling faster and faster. With every pedal, I was gaining on him a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 feet behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. In that moment, all I could think about was getting past him and I was determined to do just that.

Finally, I did it! I caught up and passed him. It was a small moment of rush and joy where I told myself, “I beat him”. Of course, he didn’t even know we were racing. It was only after I passed him, that I realized I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed the turn to my house!!!

In this entire unnecessary charade going on in my head, I totally missed out on enjoying the moment. I missed out on enjoying the activity that brought me peace, I missed out on seeing the beautiful greenery around, I missed out on paying attention to my thoughts and in the needless hurry my feet slipped from the pedal a couple of times and I could have have hit the sidewalk and broken a limb.

Like a lot of my other thoughts that I’ve penned on this page before, it then dawned on me, that this is exactly what happens in life when we focus on competing with people around us ; co-workers, neighbours, friends, family ; trying to outdo them or being busy trying to prove (to ourselves and people around us) that we are more successful or more important and in the process, missing out on our happiness within our own surroundings.

Advertisements

We spend so much time and energy running after them that we miss out on our own paths to our given destinations. The problem, I realised, with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with a better job, a nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, better circumstances and conditions, etc.

But one important realisation is that

‘You can be the best that you can be, when you are not competing with anyone.’

Advertisements

Some people are insecure because they pay too much attention to what others are, where others are going, wearing and driving, what others are talking. Take whatever you have, the height, the weight and the personality. Accept it and realize, that you are blessed (Ofcourse, there’s always scope for growth and one should never stop working hard to be where they want to be). But accept it, be grateful for it and stay focused and live a healthy life.

There is no competition in Destiny. Each has his own.

Comparison AND Competition are the thief of JOY.

It kills the Joy of Living your Own Life. Run your own Race, one which leads to a peaceful, happy and steady life. Seek adventure if it suits you, seek competition if it brings out the best in you, but don’t let it pull you down or rob you of your joy or self-love.

I hope you find this helpful or atleast it provokes your thinking engines. Until next time!

Note : For more updates and photos, please follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Advertisements

The Imposter Syndrome Is Real!

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like your friends or colleagues are going to discover you’re a fraud, and you don’t actually deserve your job and accomplishments?

If so, you’re in good company. These feelings are known as Imposter Syndrome, or what psychologists often call impostor phenomenon. An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

Advertisements

Overview:

1. What is imposter syndrome?

2. Types of Imposter Syndrome

3. Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health

4. Why do people experience imposter syndrome?

5. Coping with Imposter Syndrome

So what exactly is imposter syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments or talents and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a “Fraud“. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. These individuals attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognised to affect both men and women equally.

Advertisements

Simply speaking, Impostor Syndrome can apply to anyone ‘who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes’ or people who downplay their own expertise in areas where they’re more genuinely more skilled than others.

Expert on the subject, Dr. Valerie Young, has categorized it into subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert. In her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, Dr. Young builds on decades of research studying fraudulent feelings among high achievers.

Types Of Imposter Syndrome

Advertisements

Imposter syndrome can appear in a number of different ways. A few different types of imposter syndrome that have been identified are: 

  • The Perfectionist: Perfectionists are never satisfied and always feel that their work could be better. Rather than focus on their strengths, they tend to fixate on any flaws or mistakes. This often leads to a great deal of self-pressure and high amounts of anxiety.
  • The Superhero:Because these individuals feel inadequate, they feel compelled to push themselves to work as hard as possible. 
  • The Expert: These individuals are always trying to learn more and are never satisfied with their level of understanding. Even though they are often highly skilled, they underrate their own expertise.
  • The Natural Genius: These individuals set excessively lofty goals for themselves, and then feel crushed when they don’t succeed on their first try.
  • The Soloist: These people tend to be very individualistic and prefer to work alone. Self-worth often stems from their productivity, so they often reject offers of assistance. They tend to see asking for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence. 

For an in-depth analysis and better understanding of these types and to identify if you fit under any of these types, click here.

Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health

If you often find yourself feeling like you are a fraud or an imposter, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist. The negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that often characterise imposter syndrome can have an effect on many areas of your life.

Impostor syndrome and social anxiety may overlap. A person with social anxiety disorder may feel as though they don’t belong in social or performance situations. You might be in a conversation with someone and feel as though they are going to discover your social incompetence. You might be delivering a presentation and feel as though you just need to get through it before anyone realizes you really don’t belong there.

Advertisements

Impostor syndrome also occurs in the context of mental illness and its treatment. Certain individuals may see themselves as less ill (less depressed, less anxious) than their peers or other mentally ill people, citing their lack of severe symptoms as the indication of no or a minor underlying issue. People with this form don’t seek help for their issues, seeing their problems as not worthy of professional attention.

Why do people experience imposter syndrome?

There’s no single answer. Some experts believe it has to do with personality traits—like anxiety or neuroticism—while others focus on family or behavioral causes. Sometimes childhood memories, such as feeling that your grades were never good enough for your parents or that your siblings outshone you in certain areas, can leave a lasting impact. “People often internalize these ideas: that in order to be loved or be lovable, ‘I need to achieve,’”.

Advertisements

Factors outside of a person, such as their environment or institutionalized discrimination, can also play a major role in spurring impostor feelings. “A sense of belonging fosters confidence,” says Young. “The more people who look or sound like you, the more confident you feel. And conversely, the fewer people who look or sound like you, it can and does for many people impact their confidence.”

This is especially true “whenever you belong to a group for whom there are stereotypes about competence,” Young adds, including racial or ethnic minorities, women in STEM fields or even international students at American universities.

Advertisements

Coping With Imposter Syndrome

  • Share your feelings : Talk to other people about how you are feeling. These irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.
  • Focus on others : While this might feel counterintuitive, try to help others in the same situation as you. If you see someone who seems awkward or alone, ask that person a question to bring them into the group. As you practice your skills, you will build confidence in your own abilities.
  • Assess your abilities : If you have long-held beliefs about your incompetence in social and performance situations, make a realistic assessment of your abilities. Write down your accomplishments and what you are good at, and compare that with your self-assessment.
  • Take baby steps : Don’t focus on doing things perfectly, but rather, do things reasonably well and reward yourself for taking action. It is all about finding yourself and building yourself up.
  • Question your thoughts : As you start to assess your abilities and take baby steps, question whether your thoughts are rational. Does it make sense that you are a fraud, given everything that you know?
Advertisements
  • Stop comparing : Every time you compare yourself to others in a social situation, you will find some fault with yourself that fuels the feeling of not being good enough or not belonging. Instead, during conversations, focus on listening to what the other person is saying. Be genuinely interested in learning more.
  • Use social media moderately : We know that the overuse of social media may be related to feelings of inferiority. If you try to portray an image on social media that doesn’t match who you really are or that is impossible to achieve, it will only make your feelings of being a fraud worse.
  • Stop fighting your feelings : Don’t fight the feelings of not belonging. Instead, try to lean into them and accept them. It’s only when you acknowledge them that you can start to unravel those core beliefs that are holding you back.
  • Refuse to let it hold you back : No matter how much you feel like you don’t belong, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. Keep going and refuse to be stopped.

A Personal Note

Remember that if you are feeling like an impostor, it means you have some degree of success in your life that you are attributing to luck. Try instead to turn that feeling into one of gratitude. Look at what you have accomplished in your life and be grateful.

Don’t be crippled by your fear of being found out. Instead, lean into that feeling and get at its roots. Let your guard down and let others see the real you. If you’ve done all these things and still feel like your feeling of being an impostor is holding you back, it is important to speak to a mental health professional.

Note : For more updates and photos, please follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Advertisements

Nutrition: An Essential Ingredient For A Healthy Mind

Advertisements
Representational Image

Note : This article is neither written or owned by Bombay Ficus. It is written by Kripa Jalan and Sharang Shah and published here.

Globally, massive strides have been made in the last few decades to improve both the quality of and access to healthcare, but this progress has been lopsided. While certain forms of healthcare such as maternal and child healthcare have greatly improved, others such as mental healthcare play laggard in achieving SDG coverage targets.

Advertisements

The WHO estimates that 25% of the world suffers or will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their life . Closer to home, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 revealed that nearly 15% India adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 258,000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected. Covid-19 has only ended up exacerbating the already grim situation.

Advertisements

India was already not equipped to handle the initial case load; let alone the additional increased burden of the pandemic. The ideal psychiatrist to population ratio is about 1:8,000 to 10,000. According to estimates by professionals, in India, there is only one psychiatrist for every 2-lakh people. The shortfalls for other mental health professionals is also staggering: the need of Clinical Psychologists is 20,000 and there are only 1,000 available; for Psychiatric Social Workers, the requirement is 35,000, but only 900 are available, for Psychiatric Nurses, we need 30,000 and only 1500 are available.

To its credit, the government has put into motion the framework to help solve for this issue in the long run. In 2017, the Parliament of India passed the Mental Health Care Act , which puts the onus on the government to build up human resource capacities to ensure that mental health services are available in each district in the country. Unfortunately, the on-ground effects of these measures are at least a decade away.

With close to 250,000 suicides a year across the country, a decade is a luxury that India does not have. Other avenues of government policy can be explored and operationalized to reduce the burden of depression and anxiety in the short-run, and to increase general well-being levels among the population. To achieve this, one of the areas that the government can lean on is food policy.

Food is one of the biggest causes of illness and the consequent economic burden it places on families, societies, and countries alike. However, it can also be the solution.

Advertisements

Over the past few decades, the diet of middle-class India has shifted from a primarily cereal-based diet for highly processed convenience foods, rich in refined sugar and trans fats .These foods are a contributing factor to increased rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases – caseload of diabetes in India has increased from 3% of Indian adults in 1970 to 11.2% in 2017. Research also reveals that the degree of hyperglycaemia in individuals with Type 1- and Type 2- diabetes is positively associated with risk of depression , and poor blood sugar control may harm mental health by increasing gut and brain inflammation, in turn compromising mental health. In fact, several components of the industrialized diet, disrupt the gut microbiome.

There is now a substantial body of evidence pointing to the existence of a strong relationship between the gut and one’s mood ; it is one of the reason’s we experience sensations such as butterflies in the stomach when we’re nervous/excited about something. Similarly, the gut is abundant with serotonin receptors ; shifts in gut health can impact our mood. A precarious balance of good and bad bacteria living in our gut can have major impacts on our daily experience. This is the reason medication like anti-depressants can impact our bodily functions and have warnings for side-effects such as diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal issues.

Advertisements

As such, the food we consume is a critical ingredient in balancing our emotions. Consumption of whole food diets heavy on fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods is linked to higher levels of well-being, while ingesting junk and processed foods heavy is a precursor to lifestyle diseases and has been linked to depression . Sugar and trans-fats , key ingredients in processed foods, have been found to cause emotional instability and dysregulation. Further, they contribute to inflammation, which is the root cause of several diseases and known to be associated with schizophrenia.

To effectively use these findings for improving the well-being of the population, the government needs to take a multi-pronged policy approach, which include mandatory limitsand awareness about reading labels. In this regard, there are already regulations in the pipeline, which need to be notified. The regulations limiting the amount of trans-fats in edible oils and processed foods have been pending notification for over a year and are nearing the government’s own set deadline of being implemented by January 2021 . While the government launched a trans-fat free logo last year, the same is one part of the puzzle. Labelling of high fat/sugar/salt (HFSS) has been in the works for over two years, with no indication of a deadline for completion . Such a regulation would be necessary for consumers to make informed choices that would impact their own well-being.

Advertisements

The mental health and chronic disease epidemics demand to be treated with the urgency they deserve. This will require a massive shift with a focus on public health as a national priority. It would be essential for individuals, communities and both private and public healthcare sector to come together with a clear public health message. At the government level, one cannot take a one-size fits all approach; it is necessary to continuously look at the relevant science and keep expanding the umbrella of activities. Nutrition is a low-hanging fruit that has already been on the government radar from a physical health perspective. All that needs to be done is to expedite this process.

(Kripa Jalan is a professional nutrition consultant, Founder of Burgers to Beasts and a graduate student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Sharang Shah is a policy consultant with Chase India)

Advertisements

We Make Our World Uninhabitable

Advertisements

‘We Make Our World Uninhabitable!’

Now, read that AGAIN! 

Think deeply about what I just said. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

You might probably think I am talking about the environment. About how, WE are responsible for digging up and burning fossil fuels, causing global warming, causing wildlife extinction, etc. Well, as apt as this statement applies around the environment and ecology, that’s not close to what I want to talk about today.

I am talking about how ‘WE’ make this world inhabitable for people like ‘US’.

Evolution began millions of years ago. From being mindless apes who did as they pleased, to developing into a complex beings that are able to think, communicate and follow instincts. We evolved from man’s basic human needs of ‘Food, shelter and clothing’ to an extended list that includes ‘Sanitation, education and healthcare’. 

Yes, we developed!

Advertisements

We put together a civilisation, we developed languages, we created systems and laws to help us and we did a whole list of other worldly things which now seem so normal and at time, just obvious or primitive. 

But let me ask you this. Did you ever wonder about who ‘We’ in the above context is?

Was it unanimous? (Representative democracy as a concept did not exist until the later part of the 13th century), or was it just a bunch of self-proclaimed, mentally or physically superior individuals, who grabbed power or decided amongst themselves about what is good for everybody and did as they pleased.

I very often ponder about that tipping point when evolution became so skewed that one section of the world simply forced another to follow them, believe them and in some cases suppress them? 

But as always, nobody could prove Darwin wrong and just like he’d said, the world kept evolving. Only this time, challenging the same systems and societies that were an outcome of evolution to now being replaced by a new system which actually focuses on concepts of ‘standardisation’ under the guise of equality for all.

Advertisements

How is it that appearing for a common set of examinations provides you an access to thousands of different jobs over different fields/industries? 

In a world with 7 billion people, who we presume have 7 billion souls, each one with a unique set of genetics which is totally different from the other, each one evolving in their own unique way honing their own unique abilities and yet here we stand, with one common exam that’s going to prove our aptitude to determine if we are capable enough to have further access to our field of choice.

And yet, here we are, trying to bring in a new system because that panned out so well for us in the past. Makes me wonder, are we actually learning from our mistakes? If we are, then why are we trying to create a perfect society when at the crux of it, the people (all of us) are imperfect or perfect in our unique way.

Yes, we need structure. Yes, that’s what has fueled our progress and set us apart from all the other species on this planet. But it has also made us arrogant and narcissistic enough to believe that we know the best for everybody around us. 

Advertisements

Yup, ALL OF US believe that. 

Even today, in an ecosystem consisting strictly of human beings, we can find tiers of people beginning from the top level who consider themselves superior and look down upon others. People who force their will because they think they know better.

Now bear with me as I bring an ironical analogy to your attention.

Advertisements

A tiny baby with the most primitive brain, is provided with unconditional love, support and nourishment to enable its growth. A soul given all the freedom in the world, because countless studies have proved the fact that this is the best way for it’s mental development and growth. For this innocent soul, the grass could be blue and the sky could be black.

And slowly as that primitive brain develops, becoming more and more capable of being independent, do we subject it to rules so that it doesn’t wander off; Or as I like to call it, ‘does not become independent or creative enough to challenge every rule that we’ve made and prove us wrong’ (we all do that subconsciously).

Advertisements

It is funny how an underdeveloped 4 year old uneducated brain has more freedom to think and grow on its own than a 20 year old developed and knowledgeable brain, which is told at every step about what is doing wrong or when it is crossing a line.

7 billion people. 7 billion brains. 7 billion life spans. 7 billion growth trajectories. And yet, every 16 year old is expected to score well in a standardised test; every 25 year old is expected to get a job and be independent and every 65 year old is expected to retire. 

A world with over 7000 billion permutations and combinations of people and behaviours, and we still standardise everything because that’s just fucking easy. THE IRONY!!

Advertisements

Want to know something more ironical? 

You’re constantly told about how much smarter you are compared to your parents or ancestors, or how you’re privileged to have access to so many more resources than they did. Isn’t ‘You just have to Google it’ a response you hear too often for when they ‘EXPECT’ you to learn something new?

And yet somehow, your smartness is always going to be challenged and belittled against their experience. Their ‘Experience’ from a past world that doesn’t exist anymore. Their ‘Experience’ that enables and encourages them to think they can predict the future, YOUR FUTURE, while it continues to let you down, and humanity down as a whole.

Advertisements

ONE BIG FAT FUCKING IRONY.

Evolution made us smarter and we made our lives easier. Only to evolve further and begin complicating it again because now we’re just too smart to deal with simplicity. 

To be told, the world is a better place than it used to be. Is it though?

Advertisements

Of Anxiety And Uncertainty

 There are certain things in life that no college, book or internet can teach you. One needs to simply experience it.

                    A year ago, when I was lying in an ICU bed having a gut wrenching, muscle freezing feeling trying to explain the doctor that something is wrong with me and him looking at me with pity trying to tell me otherwise. That day I learnt that being on the other side of the table ain’t no fun. Despite being a very expressive person I was struggling to articulate what I was feeling. 

                   The things that I encountered may differ from person to person. Humans as we know are complex yet fascinating and there are going to be innumerable versions of their experiences. Mine takes me back to the anxiety attacks where I have cried frantically for hours, going berserk over the limitless thoughts running through my mind. I have felt so vulnerable at times when my mom looked at me helplessly wanting to help and me failing at explaining why I was feeling what I was feeling.

There is so much chaos in the head, you feel all the things and thoughts spiralling out of control and a scream at that time would almost feel cathartic.

Advertisements

                    Then came the anti-anxiety pills. I share a love-hate relationship with them. They kept me company at most nights and soothed me but made me feel groggy and lethargic during the day. Anxiety is an emotion as strong as happiness or sorrow, it’s a feeling of constant state of despair. It’s not all in my head, you know?

                      Anxiety also seeks isolation. From being the first one to plan social events, I slowly began to be the first one to turn down those events. It didn’t happen overnight, it’s a process and a progressive one.

                      It also taught me that having a support system is comforting. No, it does not make it less painful but it helps you get through the pain. As much as I would like for it to go away, I now embrace it with the hope of it making me stronger and better. It is not a quick fix, I know, but it helps.

I have always been the kind to care too much, to give too much. Many think ‘Oh! That’s a wonderful thing to do, that’s the way to be’. But the most daunting thing about this kind of nature is feeling too much. Expecting people to understand and reciprocate in the same manner to you. And it is one of the common causes of an anxiety disorder.

No, I am not writing this as another motivational anecdote for people feeling or going through similar things. This is for those who are around the ones diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

The do’s and dont’s we all need to know. I am aware it is not the other person’s responsibility or duty to always be as understanding and patient. But there are a few things that are done completely wrong or said in the worst  possible manner that need to stop.

1. No, it’s not in their head and no it won’t just go away.

2. Please stop comparing similar situations from your life and telling them it happens to everyone. Remember, to each, their own.

3. They don’t need to listen to a solution, sometimes they only want to vent or cry. Give them their comfort. Give them their space while being with them alongside.

4. Ask them to seek professional help. They may be reluctant and will say no. Be patient, support them. 

5. It may seem like they’re worrying for no reason and it may sound very futile to you. Please don’t act like it really is.

6. Be kind. As they say,”Everyone is going through a journey you know nothing about, be kind.”

Advertisements

There are some other things you can do to resolve clinical symptoms:

  • People with anxiety face clinical symptoms like fast heart rate known as palpitations, tightness in the chest, breathlessness and sometimes high blood pressure.
  • Deep breathing and yoga can go a really long way. Try to do it along with them, it gives them a sense of comfort and support.
  • Chamomile tea too can do wonders along with some meditative music (you’ll find a lot of these on YouTube).
  • There are various support groups and online forums that they could join, they can talk to people experiencing and going through similar situations without being judged.

Motivate them to take up some activities, cooking personally helps me a lot. I know a few others who read, write, paint. It is all about channelising the negative energy into a positive one.

Lastly, in this world full of hatred and chaos, be their calm.

Ps. Also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Advertisements

Mental Health Is ‘My Thing’

With everything that is going on around the world, we are exposed to crises on a daily basis each time we scroll through our feeds. So naturally, one day gender equity is our thing, one day it is equal wages, another morning we are moved by farmers’ plight, and then our new thing is mental health awareness. It keeps changing – our cause, our rationale, our tipping point. Because that is what everything has come down to. A thing. So what are we really doing about these things? Just to save your time, this does not concern people who are fence sitters on issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis – online and offline.

I know it is overwhelming to read, watch, and listen to so much in one shot. Nobody really can. But whatever we do, can we do that with a little empathy? This has been something I have been wanting to talk about ever since the lockdown began, when we saw the migrant exodus in India. We cannot put up a fight against each battle, but there seemed to be an exceeding amount of ignorance and carelessness on issues that grew to hurt me.

It took an Indian actor’s death for the conversation around mental health to surface in our society. Even though there are finer details that are being combed through, my question is WHY. Why does it take a celebrity’s passing to throw light on a taboo that has been part of our society since the beginning of time?

Why does everything have to be so fleeting? Today’s topic is mental health awareness. Tomorrow’s will be something else and we will have opinions on that too. We all have our own battles to fight, yes. But in that case, can we please not join each and every bandwagon mindlessly? Because by doing that, we are only diluting the enormity of the problem people actually face.

Reading all the articles and messages around his demise was very triggering for me because of the artificial concerns expressed on how our society does not treat mental health as a legitimate issue. This has been an ongoing battle for many people like me who was ‘mature for my age’ or an ‘intense personality’ – we are this way because we feel and comprehend things in a different way. We felt a lot and we genuinely did not know better ways to process. And let me also tell you, that this is not a conscious choice. When we read long articles and stories about how depression is ignored, we know it is. There is countless research on how there is a prejudice in the Indian society against mental health. So instead of talking about it as something that just ‘happens to you’, please take some time out to understand the meaning of words like depression, trauma, and anxiety. Because these things are not incidental.

Casually tossing terms like OCD and anxiety and romanticizing about them does not make anyone a part of some imaginary community. Our mental health is not a quip for us going through it and it should not be for onlookers either. While I always give room for people to educate themselves and alter their opinions on passing issues, this is not a passing issue. So please, the next time a big wave hits the shore, do not blatantly join a campaign and narrate a story about how you ‘got anxiety’ when it was really just a reality check. I am sorry, but this is not cute anymore. If we are able to read this, we also have the capability to open our browsers to find answers or reach out to someone to help. And if incase we are not in the headspace to, then that is okay too. But let’s not dip our toes in the water and opt out when it gets uncomfortable.

This is not a random outburst that will fade away with the next headline. My entire thesis-writing journey revolved around equipping adolescents with ways to deal with mental health adversities. While it began with personal motivations, it was and has continued to be an eye-opener for me purely because it calls attention to the giant treatment gap that exists in our country. It is not a lost cause; there are several initiatives that are driving change through their content. But it will only take effect if people respect each battle even if it is not their own. We are not obligated to post an update about how moved we are only because we want to sound woke. Because trust me, some of us can see right through it.

All it takes is a little bit of empathy. We don’t have to suffer from something to empathise. If you need ideas on how to make a difference, here are a few – talk to someone, look up groups online and offline, educate yourself, spread awareness, ask questions. If you want to help, please make it count. Even if we reach out to one person to check on them, it means a great deal.

This pandemic has amplified our emotions in various ways, and it would be a shame if we came out of it as oblivious as we entered it.