BENGALURU: Bengaluru has a high incidence of depression, affecting 42% of those working in private sector, and the second-highest number of suicides in the country. Low self-esteem can cause and lead to depression, in a downward spiral. How do we then, this World Health Day, fall back in love with ourselves?
“Identify your needs, your priorities and consciously invest in them,” says Dr Mary George, a counsellor, who practises in Indiranagar and Koramangala.
“Ensure that you set aside time for them. Many a time, a lot of our time is spent on doing what society expects from us and not on what we want.”
There is also the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Eat, sleep and exercise,” says Dr George.
Dr Bhupendra Chaudhry, consultant psychiatrist at Manipal Hospitals, says, “Loving oneself is not directly related to depression but is good for the psychological health of a person.” He too suggests doing things you want to do and being with people who like to keep depression at bay.
“Keep yourself updated and work on skills required at work, and appreciate the success,” he says. “Do things for yourself for your own enjoyment and give importance to what people you love want too.
” He also suggests that you express gratitude to loved ones, which will lead to better relationships and that to better psychological health.
“Loving oneself is really the natural state,” says Dr Mahesh Natarajan of Innersight Counselling. “Getting back to loving oneself is really a process of unlearning hurtful messages that one has picked up along the way, letting go of habits that are blocking that love... One simply needs to pay attention to the self talk that is blocking that self-love.”
Natarajan says, “To reacquaint oneself with self-love, mindfully practicing listening to oneself can help. A simple exercise is to ask oneself what’s important for them that day, and to check back each evening how they have cared for themselves that day.”
Dr Pallavi Arvind Joshi, Consultant Psychiatrist with Columbia Asia Hospital, suggests a thought check. “Evaluate your emotions and stay away of the negative.
When a person feels an emotion she/he should run a quick round of check to discard the negative and convert it into positive.” She even adds that you keep away from people who pull you down.
Dr Ayesha Sager Manappat, clinical psychologist with Aster CMI Hospial, too suggests keeping company of people you are comfortable with and a routine. Pallavi says a routine and being your own companion, that is spending time with yourself and loving it, will help. What to Lose While we have to cultivate habits, we also have to rid ourselves of other.
“We are often socialized to not value oneself, to put others first and to feel guilty and shameful for feeling or asserting self-love,” says Dr Natarajan. “That guilt and shame keep us looking away from ourselves, refusing to acknowledge what we need and in time forgetting that we are deserving of our own attention and compassion.”
“If we can notice the ‘Must’ & ‘Should’ list with which we have tried to rule ourselves and can challenge them, we can loosen the grip of the criticism, and learn to relax, to trust our loving self and be OK,” he says. Mary says that rule one is definitely to stop comparing ourselves with others.
“We have our set of strengths, limitations and needs, and others have another set of them,” she says. “We have to compare our growth in terms of what we were previously. We should be our reference point.”
She says that the second habit we must lose is personalising every event, whether it is an achievement or a failure. “Various factors contribute to both, and people should not take on the responsiblity of the result wholly onto themselves. If you do that you end up with unecessary guilt and shame.” For example, if you did not get that job it is not necessarily your incompetence.
There could have been internal recommendations or HR policies that didn’t work in your favour. This personalisation is also done in relationships, says Mary. “When a relationship ends, it does not mean that you are not good enough. Two people are responsible for the end of a relationship and you need to only take responsibility for your bit.
” Dr Sharanya Thyagarajan, psychologist with Fortis Hospital, says “Be aware of the times when you over-criticize yourself, replace it with positive self talk. Avoid self blame and self depreciating thoughts and behaviour. Remind yourself the good things you’ve done in life.” Pallavi asks you to watch out for over-indulgence.
“Everybody faces a quarterly crisis in their lives,” she says. “This usually happens when people turn 25 years. At this age, they have a lot of responsibilities of work, family, kids and marriage. Fulfilling these responsibilities and meeting expectations can lead to depression in some people. Therefore, no matter how busy the daily routine is, always find time for yourself.”