6 steps that help in developing positive mental strength

The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput came as a rude shock amidst the challenges of Corona Virus, Lockdown and it’s after effects. It has brought to fore other issues like mental health, nepotism, surviving the challenges, connecting with people, etc. Our social media timelines and WhatsApp groups are buzzing with the importance of mental health, dealing with emotionally weaker people and advice on communicating with someone going through a low phase in life.

These developments made me think of another group – mentally or emotionally strong people. When in doubt or faced with a problem we always call or speak to someone close to us. A friend, colleague, relative, acquaintance who listens to us, offers help, gives us some direction. These are the people who generally deal with a sensitive issue /problem with a balance and sometimes give us the much needed clarity. Then how do mentally strong people deal with their own problems, low emotional phases?

It’s been three months, people in Mumbai are confined to their houses.  It’s a long time to manage and survive this new life – working from home, housework, groceries, social distancing etc. Personally, this pandemic pressure was opening some cracks in my behaviour or emotional response. After listening to one of my seniors, I thought to myself; these people are taking care of so many lives, how are they managing their own – especially mental and emotional balance?

Are mentally strong people more vulnerable? This lingering thought on my mind became more dominant post Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

I have a huge self-doubt, low self-confidence about so many times. At one point of time I use to be amused if someone complimented my mental strength. Today, looking back I have indeed developed some mechanism of facing challenges.

Me Time: My favourite mechanism to refuel positive vibes

Faith: Not a very religious person, over last few years I started following Nicherin Buddhism, which helped me believe in faith. Faith, I realized could be different for each individual – meditation, breathing exercises, etc. However regularly practicing your faith does have many visible and invisible benefits.

Accepting Challenges: One of the biggest life lessons in recent years has been to accept the challenge and tackle it firmly. Last 5 years were challenging at different levels. I learned that accepting challenge and preparing oneself to tackle it changes our perspective towards it. It helps one think rationally, imbibes in us a mechanism to distinguish between emotional and a rational response.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: I have always tried to find one positive outcome from every challenges, sometimes result of wrong decisions. These opportunities or positive outcomes have been a good point of self-reflection, personal improvement, accepting some gaps and shaping future decisions. It has furthered strengthened my belief- whatever happens, happens for the best.

Me Time: I vociferously believe in Me Time – not only to tide over challenges but in generally. With our life pace, constant distractions, pressures, Me Time is like a fuel. We need to refill our lives – spend time with ourselves. One of the reason I have still dreaming of that one solo trip – to spend time with myself without any distractions. Me Time becomes a necessity when a lazy, leisurely day become a luxury for oneself. Like right now, I could instantly jump to reserve a stay vacation to get over the lockdown blues and other turmoil.

Feed Positive Thoughts to Your Mind: Me Time and Positive Thoughts complement each other. Me Time gives us space to think, reflect and energize positive vibes. Personal experience tells me positive thoughts may not lead to the desired result as you envisage it. On the other hand, it helps to seek clarity, understand what we really want. Setting daily intentions is my latest magic tool of positive thinking.

Gratitude and Empathy: Since childhood I felt conscious or some niggling un-comfort while expressing Thank You. Not that I was not grateful or accepted appreciation. Over the years I tried to understand the deeper reason of expressing gratitude. Life challenges pushed me hard to be grateful for every person, soul around us. Though a caring person I became more empathetic, reflecting upon my reactions and actions.

Have these mechanism made me void of low emotional phases. Certainly not. On the contrary it is teaching me the importance of expressing every emotion – happiness, sadness, doubt, anxious. When vulnerability peeps in, these same mechanism become a shield to fight weaker moments.

How do you tide over vulnerability or weaker moments?

How can baking a pizza help in achieving goals?

One of the favourite pass times this lockdown has been preparing delicious food. Is there anyone whose social media feed is not filled with pictures of banana bread, dalgona coffee, pastas, cakes, healthy smoothies, etc.?  One fine day I also decided to join the party.

I wanted to bake a pizza in a microwave. One my friend has just done a Facebook Live session on Pizza, I checked some 3-4 other recipes online, spoke to a couple of cousins on how they make a pizza at home. Mind you, this was not the first time I was doing my ‘research’ on baking a pizza at home. I have prepared myself bake a pizza so many times and each time I did not go ahead with my plan.

What is the big deal in baking a pizza? Nothing. It was my mind and self-doubt. I did not have confidence of microwave cooking. I was not sure if I can choose the correct ingredients, the right sauce, of making an ‘edible’ pizza. Over last couple of years I tried to win over this fear or doubt of microwave cooking – baking cookies, a cake and fish. Of course they were not perfect. But my wish of enjoying a homemade pizza still remained unfulfilled.

Relishing a homemade pizza was a first step towards learning to bake

Thanks to social distancing and a long wait at the super market I finally shopped for the ingredients – gingerly I picked the pizza bread, cheese, pizza sauce and paneer. I was bit nervous and anxious as I opened the door of my microwave. There it was – my first homemade pizza!

It was not just a Pizza. It was another example to show we can conquer our own fears / mental blocks. Some have fear of water, while others are afraid of darkness. Since childhood I have fear of heights. While I like the idea, I haven’t gone on a trek or enjoyed paragliding because of my fear.

Couple of years ago I managed to break my psychological barrier of fitness. I started looking forward to exercising, following a healthy diet and reading about simple ways to remain fit. Until a few months back I believed I could not make chapatis or rotis.

In 2020 I set some steep goals, one of them is to learning to bake. The first half of this year has shown it will indeed be a steep climb. But taking my lessons to become consistent, I am determined to take one step at a time to learn baking / microwave cooking.

My homemade pizza was again not perfect, had burned at the edges. But I improvised, changed combinations of the toppings and stopped thinking much about the burned edges. As I finished off the last bite I had already decided my next baking experiment!

It took me courage to take that first step to bake a pizza! Which is the most courageous activity you have recently undertaken?