Guest column: The present is a gift, use it well – chandigarh

Today, nearly one among four people is down with mental health problems such as depression. Half of us do not even realise it and most of us feel ashamed to report it or seek treatment. That is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) says depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

Mental health issues often plague us because either we are overambitious or we worry too much about the past and future. Many of us don’t think twice about joining the rat race, working overtime, taking on stress and getting burnt out even before crossing the age of 40 or 50.

Young boys and girls, with the carrot of higher salaries or perks dangling before them, work from 9 am to 9 pm (maybe from home these days because of Covid–19) in corporate sectors, with little time for exercise, recreation, or family life. When they are left out, or fail to reach the targets as set by their bosses, depression sets in. They suffer quietly, still running after the elusive carrot.

The past is over and the future is yet to arrive, but like a monkey, our mind keeps vacillating between unhappiness we have experienced and worries over what’s going to happen to us if we lose our jobs or fall ill. In the process, we do not only waste 90% of our energies, we also miss out on enjoying the present: Living in our comfortable homes; forgetting to remember our children’s birthdays, and yes, not spending quality time with them.

Though our desires multiply manifold, we get upset if these remain unfulfilled. This kind of life seems artificial, when we distance ourselves from nature and don’t enjoy the small pleasures of daily life.

We have become selfish, and materialistic, to say the least – our own enemies.

Hence, mental health today is a top priority, something one has to take care of, like brushing one’s teeth or shampooing one’s hair.

How can that be done? First and foremost, we have to change our lifestyles and understand that negative experiences have been left behind – in the past. Living in the present is what matters, so one has to live life to the fullest.

Second, there is no need to compete with anyone, except with our own self. Competition leads to stresses and tensions, and also negativity. Why not enjoy challenging ourselves and doing our best?

Third, we have to constantly observe ourselves and keep our minds calm and focused. This can be achieved by spending a few minutes daily on yoga and pranayama with self introspection.

Let us learn to let go and relax. We are one particle of this universe, let’s not think we are saviours of this world, as if things will not move without us.

Our society needs to accept and empathise with people who have mental health issues. Rather than being impatient with them or refusing to understand them, we should build them up, and help them as much as we can to come out of the dark phase.

Families must watch out for members who are feeling low or showing signs of depression and get them treated.

Let’s not hide the problem but face it.

It’s high time we slowed down, regained balance, and focused on our inner hygiene. A happy family life, with good physical and mental health, is the key to peace and happiness.

The author is an Ambala Cantonment based freelance contributor

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