Mental Well-being During Lockdown

I wish there was less negativity around lockdown. I am so happy at the moment. I have so much control over my life, and I feel so in touch with my inner self. I really want more people to feel this way. This feeling is truly addictive, and the moment we figure out ways to feel so, there is no turning back.

I’m going to get straight to the point and describe ways in which we can help improve our mental well-being during lockdown.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I have been reading about having a gratitude journal for years, but I only started practicing it one month ago. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes writing about what I am grateful for. There is no better way to start my day and I am so happy to have finally got into the habit of doing so. (If you do not like writing, then voice note it to yourself and listen back to it at the end of the day!).

2. Learn to breathe. As a human beings we are terrible at breathing in a nourishing way. This only worsens our states of anxiety. I personally have been focusing on breathing more regularly throughout the day. Every time I feel my mind wonder, I try and focus it back on my breathing. It is making me realise that our breath is the only real thing at any moment in time. By taking control of our breathing we are claiming control over how we respond to the external situations.

3. Be present. Being sat at home is apparently ‘brain numbing’ and ‘boring’. I think the complete opposite. We can add value to every moment of our life if we are present. We need to focus on what is. We need to focus on the now. We may never get such an opportunity to spend again with our family. We need to relish it and use it to reconnect with our loved ones. We need to learn to be present in each of our endeavors big or small, throughout our day.

4. Learn to do things on your own. Workout alone. Dance alone. Cook alone. Clean alone. Sing alone. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy getting to know yourself. The reality is, not many of us know who we really are. Our understanding of ourself has unfortunately become what we think society thinks we are. This is the prime time to change that. When we get comfortable being alone, we are unstoppable.

5. Take a break from social media. This is potentially the hardest. Everyone is bored at home and using social media to entertain themselves (thanks Instagram and TikTok). It is just proving how much we are seeking for external validation to define our happiness. Such happiness is short-lived. This applies to any distractions we may have. We need to break free from this escapism culture and face our real self. Take a few days off, maybe a few weeks – I took a month off! I stripped away everything I thought I was, to find out I am just a human like anyone else.

I have said this before and I say it again. I honestly believe we have been blessed with lockdown. We have come to realise how much our excitement and joy has always relied on external factors/events, rather than from within. This is the time for us to make peace with our inner selves and just enjoy being, instead of complaining about everything that we could have been doing if lockdown was not in place.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn about yourself.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Him & I

My boyfriend and I went through a rough patch recently. Living 200 miles apart, working so hard on our individual goals and ambitions, working on completely different shift patterns, on top of trying to schedule in some social time for ourselves and each other. IT IS SO DAMN HARD.

I’m grateful that we never let our difficulties get the best of us. We always try to work as a team on our problems. It’s never me against him. It is us against the problem.

Recently I taught him about Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. We discussed what we wanted. The conversation was such a spiritually enlightening and eye-opening experience . It is crazy that what we both want is ‘Quality Time’ with each other, more than anything else. The irony is that we are so busy building our individual dreams we do not have the time to spend quality time together. We talked about this and I’m glad we are always able to have such conversations and come up with solutions. The world truly does work in mysterious ways and I’m grateful that I have chosen him to experience life with.

I feel motivated to be a better version of myself every moment I spend with him. Yes it is going to be tough, but when we both know we are working so hard for our future, it makes it all the more worth it.

No one told me it would be this hard

It is so difficult to focus on this present moment when I was programmed all my life to think about the: ‘what if’, ‘what next’, ‘how will it’.

I sat down to meditate today and I really struggled to hone in on the Now. I had a flood of thoughts about what I had to do next, and what I had to do tomorrow. I felt like I was physically fighting my way against thinking these thoughts which drained more of my energy.

Accept it. Don’t resist it. What I had learnt today is my thoughts do not define me. I cannot start judging myself for not being present. Actually thinking those thoughts was my present. The more I resisted, the more I hated myself for resisting. I just have to accept that that is what my mind is thinking of at this moment, be at peace with it and continue. I believe that slowly that will help to calm my mind down.

I can see that this journey to awareness and presence is going to be a long one, but I know I will get there eventually.

Behind this smile…

This smile holds so many secrets. Behind this smile, is endless days of exhaustion and tears; the number of days I have gone to sleep crying. I force myself to be a lot stronger than I actually am, for the fear that if I start to expose my tears, everyone/everything around me will crumble.

I always tell myself, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have any sort of emotion so long as we know how to process it safely and appropriately. Why do we judge ourselves so soon for any emotion we feel? Why are we so keen to label every emotion we experience? I can feel any emotion I want. After all, I am a human.

I just pray we are all kinder to each other. Judge less. Love more. Live more.

I am a good person

I recently shared with you my insecurities. One of you guys, read it and wrote me a beautiful message on my blog. It was in short about taking time to focus on the positives I have as person, because as women we have the tendency to focus on our flaws, than champion our strengths.

I took a moment, after reading the message, to think about my strengths. Damn was it hard! How did I find it so difficult to think of my strengths, yet within a blink of eye I could list out all my insecurities and perceived negatives?

After days of long and hard deliberation here is few things I believe are my strengths. I’ve split it into the same categories as I did my insecurities, just so I can see for myself that in every avenue I have my strengths:

> Physical: I am beautiful, and I am so confident in my natural God-given beauty, which does make me feel so empowered and one with nature. Here are some of the favourite physical features about myself: my eyes, my cute beauty spots across my face, my healthy looking hair and my booty! Yep, you read that right.

> Relationship: It is a blessing to be in a secure long-term relationship. No matter how hard things get, we always seem to power through and find ways to become even closer. It is that much more tough when we have been living in two different cities for the most part of this relationship. Being in a long-term relationship for as long as we have been, and keeping that relationship alive and so beautiful is tough. Things were a lot easier when I was a student; I would just drive down to London as and when I wanted so to spend time with him (I was a bad university student so just bunked off my classes!). However, in my final year, I cut it down to weekends predominantly, and now with work we hardly see each other. We both work on different schedules, and we both have other commitments, individual to us, outside of work. He travels a lot for work and his performances. My weekends are taken up with my wedding dance business. Nowadays, we would be grateful if we could spend at least 1 hour, every two weeks, together. It is tough, and we have had so many difficulties as a result of it. Nonetheless, we are only coming out stronger. I pray God blesses us with more such happiness and strength, for which I am always grateful.

> Career: I am a doctor. I have a small yet significant wedding dance choreography business. And now, I am taking blogging a lot more seriously, and maybe in the future, I can make a career out of blogging as well!! Why the hell am I being so tough on myself?! I have worked so hard to build a life that I have dreamt of. There are few more things yet to do, but that will come with time. I am so grateful to be in a position of such responsibility. I am so grateful of the people I meet daily through my career. I am grateful for how my career is shaping me into a better person day-by-day.

> Travel: I need to accept that I currently do not have the travel bug. And that’s okay. I am on a mission of my own, and travelling does not fit into that picture at the moment. I just need to accept that be more loving to myself. On the contrary, I am instead saving some money. It is not a lot, but something is better than nothing right? I believe the savings will come to use at one point in the near future and I am proud that I am becoming a more financial aware person, because of my savings.

In addition to the above, for which I am forever grateful for, I have some great qualities as a human being. No one has ever really applauded me for them, but why wait for them, when I can applaud myself.

> I am a great listener. I spend more time listening that talking, and I believe that is a very important quality to have.

> I am very understanding. Whatever you throw at me, I will actually take time to think about the situation in your shoes. This has cost me my own feelings at times, but that is a conversation for another day.

> I am quite organised, disciplined and dedicated. If I set my mind on something, I will do all I can do to ensure it gets done.

> I am a loving human being. I am not good with regular messaging, and regular meet-ups. If you understand that and accept me for that, I will shower you with so much love always. If you do not understand that, and judge me for my decisions and the way I am, I will just step away. When I decide to love someone, I do so with my whole heart. Love rises above all.

It is so refreshing to look at how beautiful of a human being I am; and I am proud of myself for it.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Just as we are uncovering our weaknesses/insecurities, we need to become more aware of our strengths; that balance is what will keep us in a state of mental and emotional balance.

So damn proud of myself

I am going to keep this short.

I’m so proud of myself!

Today I went to cinema on my own, for the first time in my life, and watched Aladdin (2019).

Now you may be thinking, seriously is that all Praveena?! Actually this is big deal for me. I have always done things with other people. If there are things I want to do, and no one else is on board, I have not pursued it. I decided a few weeks ago that this needs to change. If I want to do something, however big or small it is, I just need to do it.

I have always been the person to get a little anxious when I have to do things on my own. When I found out Aladdin was coming out today, I literally booked a ticket for myself without a second thought. I just couldn’t be bothered to ask around and wait to go with other people. I wanted to go so I booked it. However, today at work, the thought of going on my own got me very anxious. I was so close to not going to the cinema. I spoke to my boyfriend who said, ‘Praveena, you are going.’ (Gosh I do love him for his tough love). So I came back from work, showered, and then left to go to the cinema. I bought popcorn for myself, went to the theatre and queued outside on my own and sat on my own.

Literally it was the best decision ever!

May this be the beginning of a journey or self-love and self-development, where I grow more and more courage to do things and be present as much as I can. If I have a burning desire to do something, I don’t need to wait for anyone. I should just do it! Even if that means I am on my own.

By the way, the movie was so epic!! It reminded me of my childhood dreams of wanting to become a princess!

Don’t take for granted freedom of speech

Words are so powerful. They have the ability to make or break any situation.

I’ve seen so many use words so powerfully to create such an impact in society. That is what I call inspirational.

In contrast, there are people who use the term ‘freedom of speech’ to talk bad about others and harm/hurt others. This is what I call an embarrassment to humanity.

If more and more individuals understood the power of their words and how to tailor it to meet the needs of society, we would all be growing at an exponential rate!

Love with no judgement

Spiritual practice is not easy. It takes time. Praying, meditating and chanting mantras are a fraction of this vast world.

I believe spirituality comes from a place of love, where our thoughts, words and actions are positively in line with each other.

Spiritual practice and spirituality is truly tested in the way we think of and treat those who have done harm to us, or those we have a reason to dislike. If we turn to them and embrace them with love and forgiveness, that is when our spirituality is truly rewarded.

Medical School, Dance and everything else

‘Praveena, how do you manage Medical school, dance, blogging and everything else you do?!’

I am not going to give you the cliched ‘Time management’, ‘organisation’, ‘commitment’ talk. That is given in life regardless of what you want to pursue.

I am going to tell you how much I struggled. Honestly it was tough. Society prefers me to do one or the other, but not everything. This is because society does not believe that I can do all of it well.

I wanted to prove society wrong. I think it is completely okay to have a passion for multiple things. I think it is also okay to pursue it simultaneously with the right mindset.

Being a medical student (now doctor!), dancer/choreographer, having a small wedding choreo business and blogging sounds glamorous but it involved a lot of sacrifices at different stages of my life.

To pursue my medical studies, there were moments in my life that I had to stop dancing. To pursue dancing, there were moments when I had to put dance over medicine. When I wanted to establish my business, I had to sacrifice my health and well being and travel more between cities (driving two hours from Birmingham to London and back doesn’t sound as strenuous but imagine doing that nearly every weekend for the past year!). To blog, I had to invest so much more time into reading.

To pursue it all at the same time, I had to sacrifice my social life big time…and I still do. I couldn’t go out as much because I would have to be awake early the next day to drive back to London/Birmingham. I stopped watching TV shows for a whole year, because I genuinely did not have the time. The big reminder is, this is the CHOICE I made. Others may not be like that and that’s completely fine. Just remember to make a choice that is true to what you want.

During each stage of this process there were failures and disappointments I experienced. As a result I was constantly being judged for my choices. By several people, but I put that all to the side because I knew exactly what I was doing. It may have not been the way others may have done it, but that’s okay because I am slowly getting through it.

Sometimes the balance has tipped and I have made mistakes. It was not all as smooth as it looks. My health, my education, my dance career, business, blogging have all suffered at some point or another. Nonetheless, finding the drive to get through and find the light at the end of the tunnel was key.

Moral of the story – be ready to sacrifice. Be ready to commit. Be ready for criticism. Make the choices to pursue what you love. You do not need anyone’s permission except your own to do good. So just do it!

The journey has only just begun. Being a student did make it a lot easier to pursue everything I wanted to and establish a strong foundation for my passions. I will start working in a month and a half. Therefore, work life is going to present to me a whole new set of challenges, so I do not know what is going to happen and how difficult it is going be. That’s the perks of life though right…ready to take on the next set of challenges to further establish my profession, passion and everything else.