While going through my own bad days, I took up an opportunity to moderate a part of a workshop on wellbeing with young professionals who were also women. Listening mindfully was part of the deal, therefore before the session, I went to the restroom, threw my situation into the back burner, talked myself into optimism, dabbed some perfume, took a few deep breaths to pick myself up and went for it.
By the end of the session, I realised two things:
Most participants (in this case women), especially in India, go through bad days that sometimes drag into years. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, Corporate professionals like you and me have to still go through conservative, unsupportive family members, traditional chauvinism, lack of independence even in terms of making financial decisions with self-earned money, body-shaming issues and more, at home and at work, women and men. And they still come to work, do them to the best of their ability and have a strong will to go on. Trailblazers, in their own way, for GenNext. It was heart-wrenching to say the least, but most importantly, it was an eye-opener for me.
Secondly, mental health issues are rapidly on the rise. Most of the participants sited on-going mental health issues, some were considering therapy and others were already into it with medication. Daily stressors ranged from workplace to family, self-worth, keeping up with friends and the divide of traditional versus modern and constant competition were some of the reasons for feeling low and lonely. I learnt a lot about mental health that day. One of the stressors is, that as a society we still have a stigma attached to the word ‘mental’, no one wanted to talk about it openly and yet most seemed to have considered therapy or going through one. There were several breakdowns in the session, some of them getting a chance to speak-up for the first time.
I came back from it with a fresh perspective on problems and a lot lighter, with no memory of my own situation but with a new found determination to be kind to everyone I meet and help speak about mental health a little more.
Fortunately, soon after, I had a chance to organise and moderate a session on mental health. The panel was a great mix and comprised of a life coach, a psychologist, a woman CEO and a millennial. While there were several learnings, here is one which we can act on for long term health, happiness and success – personal or professional.
To my question on the one ability we should nurture to manage stress and live a happier and healthier life, the answer seemed to be: Resilience.
While so much is written on this ‘ability to bounce back’, I think my favourite Shark Barbara Corcoran sums it up pretty well: The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.
You could argue and say, we’re not a ball to just bounce back. And I would say, I am no expert. Fortunately, research has shown that we can build resilience over time with simple, practical strategies. Some of them include:
- Building strong relationships with family, friends and people who really matter
- Letting your hair down once in a while to have fun
- Having a positive outlook, I personally like the 5-min YouTube videos to get you started on morning mantras
- Having a morning routine that could include exercise, drinking a cuppa of what you like, reading a bit or listening to music and hanging around with the family
- Having a bed time routine to center yourself and I know of some friends who do a bit of journaling gratitude
- Relaxing! Deep breathing exercises focusing on every muscle of the body, automated relaxation techniques are some of the best things to prepare you for the next moment/ or the next day/ or the next best thing!
Taking account of the things that’s happening around you, being aware of what happened and how you react to situations are all very important to work on, on a daily basis. Looks like knowing yourself well is a great way to build resilience. For some things we still need to seek help from experts and why not if it helps you to be your most effective, happy selves.
This is a resource I especially like, to get started.