Doodle away the Blues!

Doodle away the Blues!

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Do you remember how you would doodle away on the last page of your notebook while your teacher taught you a topic you found utterly boring? Or, when you try solving puzzles in the newspapers and fill up the blank spaces on the paper with your squiggly, swirly doodles as you think of an answer? How calming it must feel, isn’t it, making those doodles?

Doodling has this calming as well as mesmerising effect on our mind and that’s why therapists often advice their patients to try and doodle when feeling anxious, sad and gloomy, or even angry. Doodling gives your mind an escape into the world of squiggles and curves, and helps distract your mind. Any pattern that you make continuously with your fingers–be it with a pencil on a book, or with your fingers on the soft sand at the beach, takes your mind away from all that disturbs your peace of mind and helps you focus on the present moment.

It’s a therapy for the troubled mind and soul.

It helps you come up with solutions to your problems, too, as it de-clutters your mind.

Have you observed your little one doodling with his crayon in his drawing book, or even on the wall, lost to the world, totally engrossed in that activity. It helps build concentration in children, which is why, as kindergarten kids, this is the primary activity they are encouraged to indulge in.

And, for those of you, who feel you have not a single creative bone in your body, doodling helps bring that hidden creativity to the surface and express your innermost thoughts.

It is the one activity I have indulged in since childhood and, which, today, helps me keep my anxiety under control. Drawing is more of a therapy for me today, than just an art form–if I don’t engage in this activity, I feel I have missed out on something very important. It’s part of my survival kit today.

Sharing today, some easy-to-make, really basic doodle patterns to begin with. All you will need is a paper and a pen and you are ready to get going!

Do drive away those nasty thoughts that tease you about your lack of creativity. Just make the pattern that comes to your mind, or look around for inspiration–nature, children, toys or patterns like zigzag lines, curvy shapes, concentric circles–there are countless examples.

I am sure in a matter of days you will be hooked on to this activity and making new patterns of your own!

The patterns may appear childish, but, believe me, making these will really amuse you and quieten your mind!

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

My winged babies provided the background score for some of the videos!

SHILPA…

How doodling can help you focus on the moment and get over your stress.

 

Get rid of that clutter.

Get rid of that clutter.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Marie Kondo has been inspiring people around the world to get rid of things they have no use and keeping only those that “spark joy”! I agree with her vision for a de-cluttered, peaceful environment to live in. De-cluttering needs to be a way of life!

However, today, I am writing about ways to clear up our mental rooms that hold clutter that could harm our mental health. I believe, we have quite a few rooms up there, in our mind, that occupy different things: people, issues and thoughts, most of which we really do not need. Rooms, that need to be de-cluttered regularly along with those in our homes!

It’s quite sometime now, since I have been de-cluttering my mental rooms. My anxiety about the stress related to my life had driven away my peace of mind.

That’s not to say that I am totally in control of my thoughts and that my mental rooms are now squeaky clean. There are days when my mind is overcrowded with disturbing thoughts which affect my mental health, my sleep and my entire day. But, then, so’s Life–there are sunny days and there are stormy ones, too!

20 WAYS TO DE-CLUTTER YOUR MENTAL ROOMS:

1. Maintain a daily journal:

Write down the thoughts that disturb you, whatever they may be, about people in your life, issues at work, your fears about the future etc. Then, revisit those pages after a few days, and read your words, objectively. Are those thoughts and feelings real, or are they your anxieties? Answer this question and you will know which thoughts to toss out and which to work on.

2. Let go of grudges:

A grudge stays in our mind for years together and ruins our peace of mind. It doesn’t harm the person we have a grudge against, but completely poisons our entire system. So, just let go of it. Forgive and forget for your sake. It’s tough, but it’s worth it!

3. Practice mindfulness:

Focus on the activity at hand, whatever it may be. This, too, is tough, but get into the habit. Write it down in your journal everyday when you were ‘mindful’ and reward yourself if you observe that you have been consistent in doing it. Remember: Live in the moment.

4. Learn to IGNORE:

Ignore the things you cannot change and change the things you cannot ignore.” Nothing is in our control except the way we react to Life and to people–the two things you can never change! So, why not change the way we look at them?

5. Read:

A book can transport us to a world far away from ours, so, what better way to busy the mind than to read an engrossing story!

6. Pursue a hobby:

It could be anything you like–there are a million activities that help us improve our mental health. Choose one that is sure to spark joy and pursue it with passion.

7. Follow a fitness routine:

Working on your physical health will give your mind something positive to think about. However, don’t make it something like obsessing about losing weight–that will worsen the situation. Engage in a fitness routine that makes you feel good from within. Over time, it will show its results on the outside, too.

8. Spend time outdoors:

Like on weekends, when you have some free time, you could visit a theatre, or a museum or a nearby park. It keeps our mind busy when we are outdoors, amongst people, or surrounded by nature.

9. Ignore the trifles:

Things that are of little or no importance to us need not be encouraged to occupy our mental rooms. Just trash the useless stuff and free yourself!

10. Positive self-talk:

Begin every day with a positive affirmation. Tell yourself that you are an awesome person and how proud you are of yourself, and that whatever comes your way, you will face it bravely. Do it. Every. Single. Day.

11. Practice Gratitude:

For whatever you have been given by Life–good times and bad–be grateful. The good times brought you happiness, but the bad times taught you precious life lessons and made you a better version of yourself. That’s what difficulties do for us. I am so thankful for things that go wrong; I learn from them so much! Just a “Thank you, dear Universe!” is more than enough. But, do it with all your heart.

12. Let go:

Let go of people who serve no purpose in your Life; let go of everything that does not matter in the larger scheme of things. Hold on to people who matter and who care, and memories that bring a smile to your face.

13. Focus on your work:

Be it as a homemaker, an office-goer or a student, focus on your work a 100%. I read a quote that says, “Six months of hardcore focus and alignment can take you 5 years ahead in Life.” Why not tweak it a bit and say, “Every moment I work, I will do it with hardcore focus and alignment.” ?

14. Communicate:

Share your fears and anxieties that bother you, with your close ones. Many a time, our fears are baseless, a figment of our imagination. Speaking things out loud also helps you listen to what you think.

15. Look for your stress-busters:

What is it that helps you de-stress? Listening to music, playing with your kids or spending time with your pets? Do it every time you find yourself sitting idle. Remember what we learned at school? “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop!” It so is.

16. Plan for the day:

Take one day at a time, make a list of tasks and work towards fulfilling those tasks to the best of your ability. At the end of the day, tick off those tasks you completed perfectly and in time, and push those you couldn’t to the next day. Do not fret over the latter ones. It’s okay to miss out on a couple of things, but not at all okay to lose your sleep over it.

17. Make short term goals:

Make goals that are doable and for a shorter duration than planning for the next 6 months. Life doesn’t need even a moment to change your world, spoil your plans and leave you heartbroken. I don’t mean to sound discouraging, but, it’s a fact, isn’t it? So, make tiny goals that you can turn into habits for a life time.

18. Change old habits:

Make a list of habits you need to really change and work on 2 of those for 21 days. Work diligently, consciously and see the results!

19. Spend less time on Social Media:

Social media ruins our mental health simply by sharing with us picture-perfect moments shared by people, who, we think “have it all figured out”. Believe me, it will take us a life time to “figure things out”…Life is such a mystery, I tell you!

20. Do not compare:

Comparing your life with others will only give you heartache. You never know the real emotions that hide behind those smiles!

 

So, these are the things I am working on and which are really helping me. Touchwood.

Do try out these de-cluttering ways and share with me if these helped you. Also, share with me any ideas you may have for de-cluttering–of the mental rooms. I would love to know!

Love,

SHILPA…

Happily Puzzled!

Happily Puzzled!

You might be wondering what I am “happily puzzled” about, isn’t it? Well, do you know, today is Puzzle day? Yeah! I really never knew there was any such day that celebrated solving puzzles. But, there is and it has a good reason behind it, too.

We all have solved puzzles right since childhood. Those simple jigsaw puzzles that we tried to put together as little kids, and then, those 1000 pieces puzzles that took a lot more time and effort to put together. Then, the crossword puzzles and the Sudoku puzzles, the Rubik’s Cube, the Scrabble Game…ah, there are puzzles aplenty!

But, do you remember how deeply engrossed you would get when you were in the midst of solving a puzzle? As kids, we would forget about the homework that needed to be completed; all we were interested in was solving that puzzle. And, the same goes for today, too. For those who regularly solve puzzles will know what I mean.

Solving a crossword puzzle on your way to work, or on a leisurely Sunday, or before going to bed, is such an interesting activity, we forget where the time goes. And, when we complete a puzzle, we are jubilant! It gives such a high solving a crossword or a Sudoku, however easy or cryptic these might be.

Do you know what exactly that puzzle does for you, for your mind, for your brain?

PUZZLES ARE THE BEST WORKOUT FOR OUR BRAIN

The way we give our body a workout through Yoga or a walk/jog/dance, so do we need to give a good workout to our brain. And, solving a puzzle does just that. It’s akin to sharpening a pencil! When you solve a puzzle, you are sharpening your brain, nudging it awake and making it think, work, make some extra efforts. And, you know, this exercise of solving a puzzle revitalises your brain, sharpens it thoroughly and helps it stay young, ‘wrinkle-free’. In short, solving puzzles is like giving our brain not only a workout, but also a thorough ‘body-massage’! And, who doesn’t love a body massage?

PUZZLES ARE THE BEST STRESS-BUSTERS

Last year, when hubby was admitted to the hospital after a Bi-Polar manic episode, I knew my stress levels would definitely drive me over the edge. So, as I sat by his bedside, I busied myself solving puzzles. It took my mind off the present situation and made me focus completely on the puzzle, giving my mind a much-needed break. This respite refreshed me because I hadn’t been wasting all my time worrying about the situation, or dreading about the future. And, we all know how, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. So, why let the mind sit idle? If you have no work to do, no chores to complete, just sit down with a newspaper and solve all the puzzles printed in there. It will be the best thing you will be doing for yourself.

PUZZLES REDUCE ANXIETY

Because you are concentrating on getting the answer to that puzzle, you are not allowing any thoughts that cause anxiety to enter your mind. And, this, in turn, makes space in your mind for better thoughts. Be it a crossword puzzle or a game of Scrabble, your mind is busy coming up with words that will help you win the game or complete a puzzle that has been testing your vocabulary skills. Your anxiety is well handled and you are much at peace.

PUZZLES HELP IMPROVE OUR VOCABULARY

Teach your child to play Scrabble or the crossword puzzle and you will help him build a solid vocabulary. It will do the same for you, too. We aren’t familiar with so many words, and often, as we age, are at a loss for words. The right words elude us, leaving us feeling embarrassed or helpless. Word puzzles are not just entertaining but educative, too.

PUZZLES PROVIDE THE BEST COGNITIVE STIMULATION

Especially to the senior citizens, who are at a greater risk of age-related illnesses of the mind. A puzzle will help them stimulate their mind, give a workout to their brain and keep them occupied in something positive. Puzzles are considered perfect in preventing the brain from deteriorating. This particular information is something I always come across in articles by medical practitioners.

So, these are quite a lot of reasons why you need to begin solving puzzles, if you aren’t already, isn’t it? I love solving the crossword and Sudoku puzzle before I go to sleep. My bedside table holds a few newspapers everyday, folded in such a way, the puzzles’ page is always on the top, ready to be picked up and worked on before I begin yawning! It really helps me fall asleep soon, you know?

And, that’s the reason behind that title, “Happily Puzzled”! Solving puzzles makes me happy!

How about you? Which one’s your favourite? Do share.

 

LOVE,

SHILPA…

 

Improve your mental agility with the help of puzzles.

 

 

 

Why you need to pursue a hobby.

Why you need to pursue a hobby.

Today feels like one of those perfect days when my household chores get done before time and I find some extra time on hand. Days, when I can plan out my work and complete it and be satisfied with myself. And, happy, too!

Yes, my work–my writing and my art–gives me immense happiness. And, on days when I am unable to indulge in either of these, it feels as if I missed out on something very important, which makes me cranky. Writing and art are the two hobbies that make my heart feel contented and my mind, relaxed. And, as I finished my housework before time, I could actually sit down this morning to make an artwork before beginning this post as opposed to every other day when I have to fight for some time for my art.

Hobbies are a part of our life, be it writing, reading, art, sewing, crocheting, gardening, cooking, baking, dancing, singing….the list goes on. These are activities that may not help us earn our livelihood, but more importantly, these help us stay mentally and physically healthy.

HOW HOBBIES HELP OUR MENTAL HEALTH:

IMPROVE FOCUS & CONCENTRATION: When you sit down to read, write or draw, or, in short, spend some time pursuing a hobby, your mind makes space for thoughts related to that activity and gets rid of all the clutter that usually crowds the mind. Your worries, stress, anxiety, irritation, anger, sorrow – all of it gets replaced by a sense of calm and peace. Your attention span improves, you focus wholly on that activity and become oblivious to the rest of the world. Hobbies quieten the restless mind and help you reap the benefits of being ‘still’.

IMPROVE MOOD: The time you spend doing that activity instantly improves your mood, which, in turn, results in a release of your happy hormones–endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. You may have noticed how refreshed you are by the time you have completed the activity. A dancer might feel all the more energetic, or a singer might feel a lot calmer. And, an artist might feel jubilant at having created the art he/she had planned in detail.

REDUCE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION : Hobbies are those activities that help us push away all the other thoughts, the what-ifs, the stressors and concentrate on creating something with our hands, our fingers. Watching it ‘coming to life’ drives away the thoughts that make us anxious or depressed and relieve us of all the accumulated stress. Hobbies can, actually, act like a drug that reduces anxiety, increases calmness and helps us sleep better!

HOW HOBBIES HELP OUR PHYSICAL HEALTH:

KEEP YOU FIT: Your hobby keeps you physically active and as a result, fit and healthy. Be it dance, sports, gardening, or any other activity which requires you to step outdoors and get moving, It helps your heart beat wonderfully and exercises every muscle, every bone that would otherwise lie idle, lolling on the couch, doing nothing!

HELP YOU SOCIALISE: If it’s a hobby that requires you to step outdoors and visit places, then you are sure to meet like-minded people, who share your passion for that hobby. You learn to share your experiences, swap ideas and express yourself better. And, if you are an introvert, then be sure to observe a sea change in yourself if you begin pursuing a hobby that asks of you to step ‘out’ of your cocoon! Your social circle is sure to widen and loneliness will become a thing of the past.

HELP YOU WIDEN YOUR HORIZONS: Yes, these are activities that will not only help you health-wise, but also increase your knowledge, change your perspectives and help you learn something much more than you ever imagined. There are a countless things in our world we know nothing about. Your hobby is sure to help you discover something new and help improve your skills, give you new ideas and teach you newer ways of doing things. I learned Zentangle and making the Mandala through the various social media platforms–art forms I never knew existed!

We live our lives in pursuit of peace and happiness. That’s why, in a life that is so short, uncertain and full of stress and difficulties, it helps having a hobby that gives us some moments of respite from all the chaos; gives our mind and body a few moments of peace and joy that give us renewed energy to go back out there and tackle Life and its complicated situations, all over again.

So, what’s your hobby? Do you make time for it in your daily schedule?

Love,

SHILPA..

 

Your hobby keeps you healthy.

 

 

 

 

Managing anxiety.

Managing anxiety.

I discovered last month that after battling chronic stress and anxiety over a period of 19 years, I had developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which went unnoticed for a long time. There was Life to deal with. Earlier, it was MIL’s illness and her passing away, followed by my pet dog’s illness and his passing away, and then, last year, hubby’s illness and many other unimagined, unexpected events that turned my world upside down.

It is only so much that a person can handle without getting intensely affected by the events that take place in his or her life. But, when the stress, the fear and the exhaustion gets unbearable, it is sure to affect a person’s mental health.

I am glad I sought professional help when I realised I couldn’t take it any longer.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be managed provided you work on yourself and your thoughts that cause you the anxiety. And, yes, also seek medical help.

So, after a few sessions of counselling and medicines that help in controlling the anxiety and its thought process and get an 8 hour uninterrupted sleep (ah, sheer bliss!), I have been handling my anxiety much better. I have learned to distract my mind from thoughts that cause the anxiety to escalate; I have made a few changes in my daily life to help me loosen up a bit, relieve the stress and learn to live in the moment that makes things a lot easier for the mind.

Today, I would like to share the ways in which I manage my anxiety and am in a much calmer space despite the chaos around. Well, chaos is omnipresent, isn’t it? It’s always going to be your companion in Life!

ANXIETY:

Anxiety is a feeling we all experience in our life. Some anxiety is even necessary for us to be able to face and deal with any situation that comes in our life at every turn. However, when this anxiety takes over our mind to such an extent that it becomes difficult to deal with everyday life, we ought to seek professional help. There is no need for any embarrassment, really. Our body will function to its optimum only if we are in a healthy frame of mind.

So, if you do feel your anxiety and fear making life difficult for you, then:

  • Consult a mental health expert,

  • Seek counselling, and

  • Take the prescribed medications.

  • And sharing a doctor’s advice :

    Try and understand the thoughts that cause you the anxiety and look for solutions. Journaling helps. Write down the thoughts that cause you anxiety and find ways to tackle those issues if and when they do arise.

Most of the times, people with GAD imagine the worst case scenario which causes extreme anxiety. Know, that whatever happens, you will be able to face it, cope with it. Diverting your attention won’t help in the long run. But, assuring yourself that you can and will deal with the uncertainties in Life will arm you with the strength you need.

EASY AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MANAGE ANXIETY:

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS:

An easy way to practice mindfulness is to make it a goal to be followed for a particular number of days. Say, for a week or so. Every task you do, make sure your mind is in that very moment a 100%. Grab your mind by its collar when you feel it wandering and bring it back to the present. it isn’t easy, mind you, but you need to do it for yourself. Just do it a few times, while cooking/working/walking, and you will notice how it relieves the mind.

BREATHE:

Breathe. The one process our life depends on and the one process we often neglect. We aren’t even aware whether we are breathing correctly.

Sit cross-legged on the floor, or a chair; be comfortable and then inhale slowly and deeply, for as long as you can. Then, exhale the same way. Focus on your nostrils as you take in the air and let it out, or focus on your stomach as it inflates and deflates as it takes in the air and lets it out. Do it just for 10 counts, initially. And, then, do it whenever you are sitting idle, lost in thoughts. Bring your mind to the moment and begin to breathe. And, FOCUS on your breath. DO NOT let your mind wander.

SLEEP:

An uninterrupted sleep is so necessary for our body and mind to recover from the day’s exhaustion, to repair itself and to rejuvenate.

Switch off your gadgets–phones, laptops and TV–an hour or half an hour before bedtime. Carry a book or the newspaper to bed and read or solve puzzles. Within ten minutes of doing this, you are sure to feel drowsy. This is because there isn’t the blue light emitting from the book/newspapers, neither is there any movement on a screen in front of your eyes to keep your mind alert. Sudoku and crossword puzzles work for me. Find out what works for you.

DIVERT YOUR MIND:

Each time I used to travel in the car with hubby at the wheel, I would panic. So much so, that I used to beg for divine intervention to come and save me. I am mortally scared of speed. I feel at ease only when the vehicle runs at a speed of 60 Kmph. Slower than that is also welcome!

Now, thankfully, since hubby learned about my GAD, he drives real slow. And, if by chance, there is a nutcase driving like a maniac and hubby tries to veer away from his path, I hold on tight to my bag in my arms and go away to some far away fantasy land. This works like a charm. Although, what I do need to work on, is to tell myself that I can cope with the speed and assure myself that whatever happens, I will take care of it.

TAKE A WALK/PRACTICE YOGA:

Any form of exercise, when done with complete concentration, helps distract your anxious mind.

I practice yoga for 30 – 35 minutes in the morning and go for a 40 minutes walk in the evening, without fail. And, while doing these activities, I do not have any app guiding me or recording/calculating the number of steps or calories burned. I just stay in the moment. I breathe, take in the scenery, or concentrate on the asanas. That’s THE way to enjoy your workout!

LISTEN TO MUSIC:

Music is therapy for the mind and the soul. Agree?

Just put on some music of your choice while working or doing chores and feel your mind relax. It is, indeed, therapeutic. I have made a habit of listening to music at least once a day–morning or evening–and it leaves me feeling so fresh!

COMMUNICATE:

Talking things out with your close ones helps tremendously.

I have marked days of the week when I call up my close friends and cousins and have a heart to heart talk with them. I have set alarms in my phone that remind me of which day and at what time I am to talk to which person. Amusing, I know, but this helps me stay connected with my close ones and have my support system when I am in need.

INDULGE IN FRIVOLOUS ACTIVITIES:

Absolutely insignificant stuff like looking for matching accessories for your clothes, deciding what clothes you will wear for which occasion (even if there isn’t one anytime soon), pampering your body with a spa treatment at home, preparing face masks or body scrubs from stuff in your kitchen cabinets–it is super fun, I tell you! These things, though frivolous, push out the anxious thoughts that often find a snug spot in our mind. Try it. It’s silly, I know, but it helps.

READ:

Fiction, especially suspense-thrillers are my go-to books when I need to divert my mind. Self-help books seldom help me at such times, coz I don’t want any gyaan; all I want is some adventure to read about or some murder mystery that grips my attention like nothing else can.

PURSUE A HOBBY:

My favourite is art, and especially, the Zentangle. And, these days, I am bitten by the Mandala bug. I can forget the world and its hundred worries when I sit down to make a mandala.

Anxiety is a feeling that will always be lurking somewhere in your mind. Life is such. But, you need to show your anxiety who’s the boss!

Take care…

Love,

SHILPA…

P. S.

Do read my friend Sanch’s comment below. She is a psychologist and has shared some much-needed advice for us.

Thank you so much, Sanch! 💟

Love,

Shilpa.

Anxiety can be managed well, if we seek timely help.