All of us are born free, but as life happens we start losing our mental freedom by identifying self with external baggage: names, memories, successes, failures, interests, roles, experiences, titles, degrees, occupations, possessions, knowledge, hurts, pleasures, habits, etc.
Over time, a struggle begins when our external environment has more power than our internal selves. Overthinking can be indicative of this struggle; external thoughts dominates inner peace. Feeling weak causes us to rely on external factors to dictate our drive. Ultimately, the problem is that we begin to live in a mental prison where we have little control over anything. And if the problem is a mental prison then, consequently, the solution is mental freedom.
To achieve a higher quality of life, experience happiness, and contribute positively to society, we must pledge to break mental chains and support a friend, family member or colleague who might be going through a challenge which imprisons them.
What is mental freedom?
Mental freedom is when one is able to detach from external labels and make choices for oneself. Very often, we get stuck with negative thoughts that might have occur to us during tough situations and we get accustomed to living with it. However, it is important to understand that thoughts are a flow of ideas, which come and go, and as human beings we have the capability to control the flow.
What do we have to free ourselves from?
· Free from the fear of others’ opinions.
· Free from having to prove or justify self.
· Free from the fear of ridicule.
· Free from self-doubt.
· Free from being manipulated.
· Free from a state of pride or shame.
· Free from the pressures to become something.
· Free from ego-based anger.
· Free from ego-based anxiety.
· Free from competition and personality politics.
· Free from the blame game.
· Free from envy.
· Free from the endless cycle of becoming or consuming.
If few of these traits become toxic and imprison us, they can lead to anxiety disorders, trauma, eating disorders, toxic relationships or depression. Each of these are ways by which we might feel caged and emotionally drained out. But, none of these are permanent in nature. Sometimes all we need is someone to hear us out or a hand to hold.
How to know one is going through depression
Being depressed or empty once in a while may be a part and parcel of our life. But if it is seemingly prolonged it hampers our health, sometimes in a life-threatening way. Listed below are some symptoms of depression:
· Depressed mood on most days, including feeling of sadness or emptiness
· Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
· Too little or too much sleep on most days
· Unintended weight loss or gain or changes in appetite
· Physical agitation or feeling of sluggishness
· Feeling worthless or guilty
· Trouble concentrating or making decisions
· Intrusive thoughts of death or suicide
How to regain your mental health and freedom?
If you are stuck in an inadequate situation, step one is to share with a dear one. It not only helps you unburden your mind, but may also provide solutions to your problem. Moreover, it helps you think from a different perspective through which a situation can be analysed better.
One should also try and engage in various kinds of therapeutic activities such as yoga, cooking or listening to music, which will not only divert your mind from ongoing stress, but also, add some fun element in your daily routine.
Last, but not the least, going for counselling really helps. There are times when we are not comfortable to discuss our problems with a friend or a family member or maybe they are not being able to provide with the right solutions. Going to a counsellor or therapist can help in empowering our minds through a systematic approach. Moreover, these are professionals and can help guide us in the best manner.
Save A Life (SAL) Foundation
Mental freedom cannot be achieved in one day and it is an ongoing process. Our minds begin to develop during the early years of our lives and nurturing it well is important at every stage of life. SAL, a mental health and awareness organisation, provides a 360 degree platform to people, to enhance their mental well-being, through the following six units:
1) SAL Productions: Reduce stigma around mental illness through books, plays, podcasts, etc.
2) SAL Wellness: Preventive activities like meditation, dance and yoga along with medical advisory services to be conducted by a panel of psychiatrists and psychologists.
3) SAL Education: Teaching life sciences to children from an early age to equip them about how to lead a healthy life and manage emotions through various phases in life.
4) SAL AI & Data: Technologies like Chatbot, Data and GPS to reach out to suicidal individuals and help them in case of emergency.
5) SAL AmbuCross: Red button for emergency embedded in cabs and taxis to help emergency patients who might try to commit suicide and need urgent help.
6) SAL Finance: Guide and help individuals to clear off financial debts by a adopting a proper risk assessment and actuarial/insurance model.
According to World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people die every year worldwide because of suicide. SAL believes that by addressing mental health concerns which are amongst the most miscomprehended situations in this era, suicides can be prevented. These issues are still treated as a taboo in our societies because of which there is a lack of knowledge and understanding, thereby leading to an increase in suicide cases.
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The author, Niraj Doshi, is the Co-founder, Save A Life Foundation