After having written about the House of Public Relations last week and gotten a lot of interesting feedback I decided to write about something we do either consciously or not but sometimes do not pay attention to. These are rituals we undertake. And very often we cultivate what become rituals of Joy. I was thinking about this last evening and posted a tweet asking people to respond with what were the #RitualsOfJoy that they carried out daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. The idea was to inspire others to create their own rituals of joy and also to help build a quiet movement in favour of better mental health.
Well, the response has been tremendous. The thought occurred to me based on a discussion that took place on Twitter two weeks ago where mental health was brought to the fore as an area of concern among public relations professionals. As someone who specialises in bringing people together for learning and development I swung into action. Supported a survey, met a psychiatrist and also invited a renowned mental health expert to be a speaker at PRAXIS.
The takeaway is that all of us have the ability to control our happiness. Mental health issues can affect anyone at anytime and is not necessarily rampant among PR professionals as some may believe. Yes – PR professionals have high stress jobs and can sometimes be subjected to multiple, difficult stakeholders but many other professions have a similar situation. And every mental health issue can be cured, if detected early on. The first step is to prevent it, the second is to ensure self-care. Mental health issues start with stress, worry, anxiety and then move to depression and later suicidal thoughts. We cannot always control physiological illness, but we can do several things to control mental illness. I’m not an expert at mental health but having lost my mother when I was 21 I have learnt the art of surviving and thriving from scratch and ensuring I did not let my mind get carried away. I made the choice to be positive and over the years I created a set of periodic rituals that involve food, places, people and a fitness regime that ensure joy and happiness. I also try and visit a place of worship every week for calm and solitude.
So, what do I do as part of my Rituals of Joy? I used to ensure evening walks since I turned 30 but in the last 18 months I have adopted Dance Fitness (a variant of Zumba) as my daily ritual. Every month I explore new food options and I think nothing makes me happier in the way food does. In the last two years I have chosen to slow down by taking a break every quarter that lasts a week – one alone, one with a friend, one with family and another that gives me time in my home-town. And every year I try and meet a dozen new people who become connections for life. This year I have taken it to a new level with the #52NewPeople project where I try and meet, in the offline world, someone who I have connected with online. These meetings take place over coffee or lunch and last an hour. They indeed make me happy as I learn new things and get to know a random person better.
What are your Rituals of Joy that make you happy and keep you mentally strong, that you take pride in?