The World Health Constitution defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Despite this definition and mammoth campaigns considering mental health of a person, group or society, India is still left far behind. Here medicines are taken as the proof of one's illness and only a seen wound gets a consoling and a helping hand. Stress, nowadays is taking a toll on people's lives. People in their busy lives sometimes forget or ignore what is going on with other people's mind and lives. It is not only important to sensitise people about stress of other people but to address their own. Today, the entire world is celebrating World Mental Health Day. This abstract is based on the WHO's report on, "Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide" (World Health Organization, 2020)
In 2019, one in eight people globally were living with a mental disorder (World Mental Health Day 2022). Over 75% of people (with mental health conditions) belong to low and middle income countries have received no treatment at all (World Mental Health Day 2022 Make Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority, 2022) It is evident that there is no sustainable health without a mental health. Globally, each year, depression and anxiety disorders cost around US $ 1 trillion. Suicides, are the among top causes of deaths among young people take 8,00,000 lives each year (World Health Organization, 2019). In India, the treatment coverage is very low for mental health conditions. Despite a mental health policy in India (2017), awareness is still at bare minimal. People suffering with any kind of mental illnesses witness discrimination, violence, stigma by their family, friends and society.
Why stress is important? Why should we tackle it?
WHO defines stress as "any kind of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain". How you handle or respond to your stress, make a big or small difference to your overall health and wellbeing. (Stress, 2021) There are number of reasons for one people to take stress, like, illness, violence, displacement, arguments, uncertainty about future, etc. Taking stress very frequently or high stress often affects the body and gives you unpleasant feelings like headaches, fatigue, neck & shoulder pain, skin rashes, infections, bowel problems, back pain, upset stomach, heaviness, lump in throat, not feeling hungry, etc. (World Health Organization, 2020) .
Stress directly affects the productivity of people as people cannot focus, get angry or irritated easily, having difficulty sleeping, cannot sit still, worry a lot, feeling sad or guilty, crying, get tired easily, overthinking any situation, etc. The feelings and thoughts which makes one stay away from his or her values are called as "away moves". One way to tackle stress is to learn to be more engaged and to focus better on things which you are presently doing or working. Focusing on things can come even while doing small things like making a tea for yourself. By noticing every tiny detail which goes in making tea like its color, smell, taste of it, etc. etc. For example, when you talk with your friend or family, listen to what they are saying, their voice, their tone, their facial expressions, etc. Give them your full attention.
Second thing which comes your way while handling stress is the emotional storm. In that situation a person experience very difficult feelings and thoughts which can overpower them. It is thus important to ground oneself. There are various steps involved while grounding oneself. First, you notice how you are feeling and thinking. Next, slow yourself down and breathe slowly (connecting your mind with your body). Next, press your feet into the ground and slowly stretch your arms, or press your hands together. Next, focus on your surroundings. What are the five things you see first? What are the four things you hear? Next, breathe the smell around you. Next, touch any object or thing near you and see how does it feels. From this, one can notice that while there are things to bother you, there is also a world around you which you can see, touch and feel, these things can connect you with your values and can manage stress better. However, engaging and grounding exercises do take time and your patience but they are proven to be effective.
Most people try different things to get away from their thoughts and feelings which gives them stress, like, yelling, watching TV, listening music, avoiding people or places, isolating oneself, lying in bed, substance abuse in the form of drugs and smoke, arguing with others, blaming oneself, etc. However, these ways are temporary in handling those feelings and thoughts. Thus, there is a new way to get rid of them, that is, "NOTICE AND NAME". First you notice a thought or feeling which has hooked you. For example, when you say here is heaviness in my chest, here is anger, here is difficult thought about the past, here is pain in my forehead, etc. Now, try to replace these phrases with "I notice". For example, I notice here is the anger, I notice here is a heaviness in my chest so on and so forth. Then people can chose to act on their values rather than hooking on to their feelings and thoughts. This whole act thus can be defined as NOTICE, NAME and REFOCUS. This act, then becomes important because it is through your actions you influence the world or the people around you. Your actions must support your values (choose values that are most important to you). When you begin to act on your values, you create a more fulfilling and satisfying life. Last but the important thing to be kind to yourself and make room for those feelings to pass through you in the difficult times or situation.
Mental Health should be a priority for all. Growing inequalities, conflicts around the globe makes stress an unwelcoming guest in people's lives. This year's theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is, "Making Mental Health and Well Being for All a Global Priority. Let us all try to build a world where mental health is valued, promoted and protected.
- World Health Organization. (2020). Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- World Health Organization. (2019). The WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health [Ebook]. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Stress. (2021). Retrieved 10 October 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/stress#:~:text=Stress%20can%20be%20defined%20as,to%20your%20overall%20well%2Dbeing.
- World Mental Health Day 2022. (2022). Retrieved 10 October 2022, from https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022
- World Federation for Mental Health. (2022). World Mental Health Day 2022 Make Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority [pdf].