Wellbeing is about increasing our capacity to thrive

Whether we care to admit it or not, the stress of working, living, side-hustling and care-taking, in this day and age, is taking its toll on our physical, emotional and mental health
DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection.
DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection. Photo: Gomantak Times

MAYA ROSE FERNANDES

A clinical psychologist friend of mine was recently telling me about how the adult human mind of today isn’t able to appropriately process the amount of information it is being exposed to via screens and earphones.

Our neural circuitry is bumping up its coping mechanisms, but this is putting us even more deeply into survival mode. Addictions like workaholism, codependency or of substances, and escapist behaviours are stronger than ever before.

DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection.
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She said that this is one of the reasons we’re seeing increasing levels of depression and other mental health illnesses (not all of them are caused by this, I should add), gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds.

If you believe in the mind-body connection, and I hope you do, you’ll understand that our inability to adapt properly to processing the information coming at us is causing stress to our bodies and undermining our ability to even cope or survive.

Where is the thriving in this scenario? And, what of our collective wellbeing?

There’s a reason everyone is burning out in their own way, ‘slow’ living movements are trending faster than ever before, and minimalist living is becoming a way of life for many.

It’s the pace and the scale of the information coming at us that’s the problem. I’m hopeful that the newborns of today will have more evolved neural mechanisms to cope by the time they are adults.

But for now, there’s a reason everyone is burning out in their own way, ‘slow’ living movements are trending faster than ever before, and minimalist living is becoming a way of life for many.

People are trying to figure out how to thrive in a world that has set them in survival mode, and told them that that’s good enough.

DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection.
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How does this play out in a place like Goa? Those with jobs already make themselves available, almost 24/7, to their bosses or business interests. Others are working side-hustles to earn more.

Still others are jobless and searching futilely for something that can earn them enough to match their skillset and help them afford to live in a place where the cost of living is increasing year by year.

The stress of working, living, side-hustling and care-taking (whether it’s just yourself or your family or elderly people or children or all of the above) is taking its toll on our physical, emotional or mental health.

The stress of working, living, side-hustling and care-taking (whether it’s just yourself or your family or elderly people or children or all of the above) is taking its toll on our physical, emotional or mental health.

‘Wellbeing’ seems to be a keyword being used as the panacea for our predicament. How do you define your own wellbeing? If this isn’t a question you’ve ever thought to ask yourself, maybe you should.

DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection.
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The wellbeing industry is full of quick fixes it is constantly trying to sell us: green smoothies, gym-time and Pilates classes are all fine, but, how do these sustain you when it’s actually your soul that’s calling out for sustenance?

These won’t plug that panic attack that overtakes you, or sustain your mood when you keep getting irritable towards people or moments that seem to be more of a crisis than they are, in reality.

What do you do when your ceaseless worrying is stripping your joy at a rate that overrides your ability to rest and be still?

Spirituality (which is a broader definition than religion) is a part of wellbeing if it makes you pay attention to the spiritual part of you.

Squeezing at least one practice into your already busy day that fills your soul with joy is worth its weight in gold, at times like these.

Developing a ten-minute mindfulness practice, even if it's mindful walking, or journaling or doing a deep breathing exercise, or even all three, can become part of the day where you’re not striving, overthinking or worrying without anything to counter those behaviours.

Spirituality (which is a broader definition than religion) is a part of wellbeing if it makes you pay attention to the spiritual part of you.

DOWN & OUT: These days, we’re seeing increasing levels of depression, mental health illnesses, gastrointestinal issues and inflammation of all kinds, and it has a lot to do with the mind-body connection.
Centuries-old tradition in Goa's Chandor village

Being able to find stillness in an otherwise fast-paced life where we’re inundated with images of war, material wealth we are instructed to strive for, orphaned children, climate change, human rights abuses, brutality and luxury toys for example, just enhances our survivor mode and keeps us stuck there.

Developing a practice and having the self-discipline to maintain it can really make a difference to each day of ours by enhancing our capacity to adapt with grace, be more patient with ourselves, and others, and increasing our ability to negotiate uncertainty with aplomb.  

If you must access screens, then use them to learn new practices that help, not hinder, your wellbeing.

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