Tips to Prioritize Mental Health in Goa, during the “New Normal”

Your mental health cannot be kept hidden in one corner of the closet anymore. It’s demanding attention, at this very moment. Psychologist Shobhika Jaju shares her inputs on the importance of mental health care during the pandemic & suggestions to look after the same, while using the advantage of being in Goa.

As the pandemic rages on with newer cases every day, and even as the lockdown is lifted in most parts of the country, if there is one conversation that is slowly trending up the charts, is the one around mental health. It was about time that we as a country, and within smaller communities start taking mental health & related conversations seriously; there was way too much unhealthy complacency about it. And if there is one silver lining, about the ongoing global crisis, it is that people are finally waking up to the importance of their mental health. Albeit sadly, but importantly, more & more mental health experts are claiming on the basis of much ongoing research, that the negative long term effects of the pandemic on the overall population’s general mental health is going to be unimaginable, a couple of years after this is all over; unfortunately, this is going to hold true for the entire world. So, this is really a wake-up call for all of us, that we prioritize our mental health, as we learn to navigate through the, “new normal”.

The question that we need to ask is that, what significance does mental health have in this “new normal”? Today’s normal is unfortunately contributing to a lot of overwhelm, stress, anxiety and even depressive feelings among people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few things that one needs to keep in mind, to deal with these negative feelings, during the pandemic and in its aftermath to maintain a healthy mental health.

  1. Pay attention to yourself: It is imperative that you pay close attention to how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Question your emotions, explore the triggers for the same and try to come up with alternative responses to the triggers. Understand the signs and symptoms that your body and mind may be giving you to indicate overwhelm. These could range from fatigue, distraction, lack of creative thinking at one end to sleeplessness, appetite issues and more severe issues on the other hand. It’s also important to pay attention to the physical cues and focus on self-care. Getting the basics right is essential, which may include nothing more than just eating well and exercising.
  2. Create a safe space: Focus on building and maintaining social connections, which you could turn to, if feeling overwhelmed. You may even create a cozy corner at home, which you could retreat to for short breaks during the work day. Think of the little things which bring you joy, and make them a part of your daily routine.
  3. Take the advantage of being in Goa: People from across the country are fleeing closed quarters to escape to Goa, just so that they can breathe fresh air. And if you live here, then what more can we ask for. Take short walks, breathe in the fresh breeze, go for cycling, pay attention to the sound of birds; these small things which we take for granted, go a long way in ensuring that our mental health is taken care of.
  4. Opt for short breaks: You could do all of the above, if you take short breaks during the workday and from house chores. All it takes it 10 minutes of self-love and self-care every few hours. It’s also okay to take longer breaks to just pause and reflect.
  5. Choose: It’s important to learn to say ‘No’. Whether it is extra workload at the office or at home; you don’t have to do every project, or be a part of every client meeting; you also don’t have to clean the house for the 30th time during the lockdown; and you certainly don’t have to bake the banana bread. Choose also the news you are exposing yourself to, the people you are meeting, and the places you are visiting. When we consciously choose what we want to do with the limited time on hand, we empower ourselves.

Goa has always been at the forefront of mental health conversations in the country and particularly so, in the western region. Mental health conversations are finally becoming a part of our everyday conversations, and unless that continues, mental health care will always be viewed as a luxury and remain in the backseat, when in fact it is the driving force in ensuring that an individual reaches their maximum potential.

In conclusion, it would suffice to say that, “looking after one’s mental health is the new normal”.

About the Author

Shobhika Jaju is a Psychologist & Psychotherapist at Silver Linings: Guidance & Counselling Centre, Margao. She is a Certified Queer Affirmative Practitioner & Career Counsellor. Reach her on shobhika@silverliningsgoa.com

For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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