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.

 

 

 

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

 

So, finally 2019 is here–sparkling and glittering with its newness, infusing us with hope and vigour to make it a success story. I am sure most of us have decided on some new resolutions and promised to stick to those and fulfil them by the end of the year. Right?

But, as we all are so aware, all those grand resolutions are going to fizzle out by the end of the second week of January, itself! Or, may be by the end of January. And, we will find ourselves back where we started…wondering why we failed to stick to our plans and questioning our tenacity. By February, we will vow to stick to our resolutions the next year, come what may!

But, do you think we will succeed in 2020, either? I bet not.

Why do you think this happens? Why do our grand plans fizzle out?

I think, it’s because we make resolutions that are too ambitious and grand to handle. Seldom do we assess ourselves, our capabilities and our limits before making those resolutions.

Someone, who might wish to reduce weight, might decide to stay off sweets, altogether; enrol at a gym and workout like crazy; follow a diet to get the figure they so wish.

Someone might decide to work towards that promotion they so seek and slog night and day.

And, someone else might decide to live a more fulfilling life where they spend more time with their families and discover themselves, follow their passions, because, well… YOLO! I mean, You Only Live Once! ( I was so unaware of the meaning of YOLO till sometime back!).

But, is it that easy?

Being strict with your diet, hitting the gym regularly….can all get frustrating after a while because you never know when Life might test your commitment. All of our best laid plans could fly right out the window!

Or, in our quest to reach ahead in the “race”, we would neglect our health, our sleep and our family and if things don’t go as we expect–which is what usually happens– we could very well end up depressed.

And, people who wish to live a more fulfilling life with their families and all, can definitely achieve it, provided they place their smartphones and other gadgets under lock and key once they are home. But, do you think you can resist the temptation of checking the notifications on the many social media platforms?

You might do it for a day or two, but then will just give in to the urge to grab that phone and forget all about discovering yourself.

So, all the enthusiasm with which we begin the new year starts to wane and our singleminded devotion towards fulfilling our resolutions begins to peter out. We do make a few feeble attempts at getting our mojo back, but in vain. And, soon, we fall into the rut we all were so used to earlier. Life takes over along with the uncertainties She brings our way and we realise we will never be able to win over Life and Her big plans!

WHAT WE NEED TO DO INSTEAD

This year, I decided to make a few goals to follow; goals that I haven’t labelled as “resolutions”; goals which would be doable and easy on me and my mind. After all that happened in my Life since 2017, all I need today is peace of mind. That’s all. I am not at all trying to be overly ambitious, or enthusiastic, or anything. All I am looking for is the elusive peace, and how to make it a part of my life, and thus these goals.

So, I jotted down a few things that I needed to make a part of my everyday life. Little things, really, like…

Simple, doable things that are sure to make me a stronger person, calm me during the tiresome, stressful moments and yes, build a solid support system that I so need.

Of course, it is not easy, for instance, to accept Life as it is, or believe in myself when things aren’t going my way. I am human, after all. But, being grateful for whatever I have is bound to change that and give me a fresh new perspective about my Life.

So, instead of coming up with resolutions we will never stick to, why not make smaller goals to work on on an everyday basis; goals that are easier to manage and do not burden us with expectations.

Here’s what you could do if you wish to fulfil your new year resolutions…

8 WAYS TO STICK TO YOUR RESOLUTIONS:

1. Take baby steps…make smaller goals that don’t tax your mind if you miss out once in a while. Remember, it’s okay to slip off the track once in a while.

2. Don’t be too strict with yourself as far as meeting your goals is concerned. I mean, suppose you decide to stay off sweets, then take it a day at a time and keep aside a day when you can cheat on your plan. Have a chocolate, or your favourite dessert–for the sake of your taste buds–and, then workout a bit extra the following day. But, then again, don’t overdo it. Bottom line is, care for your body, be considerate towards its limits.

3. If you wish to cut down on your smartphone use, set an alarm for 9 pm when you will switch off the WIFI and put the phone away. Do not switch it on as soon as you wake up. And, once you do switch on, time yourself. No more than 10 minutes to check whatever you wish to and as soon as your 10 minutes are up, switch it off again. Stay away from it for at least a couple of hours between every 10 minutes phone break you take.

4. If you have decided to exercise/workout everyday, do it in the morning beginning with just 15 minutes. After a week, increase it by 10 minutes. 25 – 30 minutes of exercise is more than enough. And, take a break on Sundays. Your body requires the rest.

5. Prepare a journal in which you note down your goals and how you manage to achieve them everyday. Be true to yourself. No cheating!

6. At the end of a week/ fortnight, if you find that you have been pretty consistent with working on your goals, reward yourself.

7. Remember to take life ONE DAY AT A TIME–this includes working on your goals, too!

8. And, finally, remember that you are NOT competing with anyone except yourself–your old self. So, don’t be a tyrant and drive yourself crazy over your goals. It will affect your mental health. And, if your mental health suffers, believe me, there’s no point working on any other aspect of your life.

So, what goals have you made for the new year? If you haven’t yet, I would suggest you give it a good thought, take everything into consideration and then decide what it is that you need to change. I am sure you will have a higher chance at succeeding at it!

Wish you the very best!

May you all have a happy, healthy and a peaceful New Year!

God bless!

Take care, coz I care…

Love,

SHILPA…

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Why GOALS work better than RESOLUTIONS.

 

 

 

How to make a Mandala and how it helps your mental health

How to make a Mandala and how it helps your mental health

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s been some time now since I have been bitten by the Mandala bug. It was a design that quite intimidated me for the longest time! The intricate patterns, the minute detailing…all of it made me squint in awe at every Mandala I came across. It made me wonder if I would ever be able to make one myself.

So, to get over the fear, I decided to work on it, slowly and steadily. And, today, after making quite a few of these exquisite patterns, I feel so proud of my work. Of course, I still have miles to go before I can call myself an expert mandala artist, because I know the number of errors in my designs.

However, it is more to do with the effect it has on my mind than how it turns out that matters to me most. Drawing a mandala is the most satisfying, comforting, calming art activity I have ever indulged in. I enjoy pencil sketches, too, but the intricate patterns in a mandala have the power to improve your concentration.

The focus is all on the design, on how the pen works. And, when you focus a 100% on the activity, you are bound to forget everything that bothers you otherwise.

BENEFITS OF MAKING THE MANDALA

Making a mandala has quite a few benefits.

For someone who may be striving to concentrate, to overcome the edginess, the anxiety, making a mandala is sure to help you calm down.

It helps you learn to express yourself better. The various shapes and patterns you draw give you the freedom to think. There is no hard and fast rule as to using particular patterns for a mandala. You can use any shapes and symbols–geometric or ornamental– that come to your mind at the moment. This flexibility helps you learn to express yourself freely.

As a result of this freedom of expression, the tensed up mind relaxes, your anxiety and anguish comes under control–a fact I can totally vouch for.

Once your anxiety diminishes, you feel mentally at peace with the world and with yourself. You become oblivious to the disturbing thoughts that crowd your mind.

The mandala I am sharing today, took me more than an hour and a half to make. And, those were the most peaceful moments for me today!

To put it simply, mandala making is like meditating, when your mind is free of any thoughts and at peace.

HOW TO MAKE A MANDALA:

Making a mandala is really not as difficult as it appears. All you need is a paper, pencil, compass, scale and an eraser to draw a circular grid with the help of which you make the mandala patterns.

You can draw the patterns with pencil and then go over them with your ink pen/Zentangle pen/Pilot pen, or even a ball point pen.

METHOD:

On a paper, find the centre point and draw concentric circles of varied sizes.

Then, draw lines to help you space your patterns and guide you as you draw.

Once you have drawn these lines, begin to make the motifs.

There are various motifs, shapes and symbols you can make. They could be as simple as doodles, petals, leaves, flowers, triangles, semi-circles, circles, lines, or paisleys, heart and fish motifs…you just need to set your mind free to choose whichever shape it likes best!

Sharing some of the mandalas I tried.

So, don’t you think this is the most satisfying and relaxing activity? Of course, there are many other, too, like knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting….but, mandala making is what I prefer.

How about you? Would you like to give it a try?

Do share with me if and when you do make one. I would love to see your creation!

Love,

SHILPA…

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Easy steps to make the Mandala and calm your mind.

 

 

Live in the moment.

Live in the moment.


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

December is usually a month of reflections. Looking back to the year that was; pondering what went wrong and what we learned from it all. December is also a month for planning for the new year that will soon make an entry; making resolutions; charting the route to be taken to achieve goals and fulfil every wish to make the next year a happy one.

For me, personally, it’s a month of reflections; remembering in detail all that went wrong; all that changed me completely as a person; and all that I will not be doing in the new year. Yes, not doing, as in planning for the new year, making personal and career goals, resolving to do or undo certain things.

All that happened this year taught me one thing, which has now become my motto:

LIVE IN THE MOMENT.

I had plans galore last year, which all crumbled to dust this year and left me broken hearted. Broken hearted and wise. It taught me to live life in the moment–the present. And, that all that we plan need not come to fruition.

I will share with you something that strengthened my belief in living in the moment. Nothing serious, but something really minuscule, and yet, significant.

Yesterday, we–hubby and I–completed 21 years of married life. Family and friends showered us with anniversary wishes; some asked what plans I had for the day; how had we decided on celebrating? And, my only reply was that I had not made a single plan. At the risk of sounding unromantic, it’s just another day, and now it’s 21 long years! But, on a serious note, I don’t make plans because anything could happen and ruin those plans and leave me with a heartache and a bad mood.

And, you know what happened in the evening? Hubby’s car broke down, so it had to be towed to the service centre where it will stay for a few days; hubby wasn’t hungry as he had had a late lunch, and also, he had some work to tend to. So, that left me all alone on my wedding anniversary.

Did I feel bad? Nope. Did I wallow in self-pity? No way! Instead, I went and treated myself to my favourite pani puri at a nearby chaat centre, fed biscuits to my 12 canine friends, who were delighted to meet me, came back home happy and satiated, completed a pending article and then enjoyed a dinner with my feathered babies. And, to be frank, it felt awesome!

Being alone on my wedding anniversary did not dampen my spirits a bit, and that’s because I have conditioned myself to enjoy my own company–in short, be emotionally independent. Does that sound a tad snobbish? I hope not.

So, to sum it up, I was glad I hadn’t made any plans and enjoyed the moment, as it came.

And, that is going to be my goal for the future. To live in the moment; to live life as it comes and to learn from all that it brings for me.

Do you remember Katrina Kaif’s dialogue in the very famous movie, ‘ZIndagi na milegi dobara’? When asked what plans she had for her future, she said she hadn’t decided upon anything, instead wished for Life to surprise her at every turn; looked forward to new adventures and meeting new people and making new friends.

Isn’t that the perfect way to live? The ideal way to live?

Let Life bring for you what She has decided for you. You are sure to learn from the tough times and enjoy the beautiful ones. Like I have been doing since some time now.

I learned from all that went wrong.

Met new people–blogger friends whom I had met in the virtual world only–and loved every moment I spent with them.

Basked in the surprise Life brought my way by getting my entry shortlisted from amongst 1600 plus nominations for the Orange Flower Awards.

And, gained a new insight into how She functions! She, as in Life.

So, it is with this newfound knowledge that I wish to step into the new year..in fact, why just the new year, but every moment that comes my way! That’s sure to take a truckload off of the stress that one usually tends to carry on one’s shoulders–anxious about the future–isn’t it?

The future will be what it is destined to be. Why worry, plan, look forward to the moment that hasn’t come yet? Why not live this moment to its fullest, doing our bestest and letting go the fear of the morrow?

What do you think?

Taking your leave with this quote from a really beautiful book my friend, Sanch, gifted me – ‘The art of racing in the rain’. And, it is something that the dog in the story wonders:

“People are always worried about what’s happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have.”

Points to ponder, eh?

Smile, shine and take care…

Love,

SHILPA…

P.S.

What do you think about my logo?

And, the new look of my blog? 🙂

SHILPA…

 

Live every moment to its fullest. it might very well be your last!