In Honour of World Mental Health Day

Did you know that mental illness is connected to physical illness? Depression is a brain disorder that leads to emotional suffering. It can lead to a lot of physical problems that affect everything from your heart to your immune system. Changes in how your brain function can have a big effect on your body.

You will surely agree with me that life can be stressful. Sometimes you may feel so stressed that you cannot work out what to do as your brain is overanalysing. You might feel constantly tired and achy.  Your appetite for food and sex might decrease. You might have insomnia, or you might sleep too much. Whatever it is, I am sure you will want some explanations but will not find easy answers.

“Our life is shaped by our mind for we become what we think.” – Buddha

It is not easy to fit in with the crowd and we all want to feel accepted. I have known those who would do anything, from cracking silly jokes to saying ‘yes’ to every person. And when they fail to integrate, they feel unloved and misunderstood. They lose their identity and become depressed. They turn in on themselves and become a recluse.

Depression alters your brain structure. Your whole life is turned upside down. You experience fear and loneliness. You feel unmotivated. You become increasingly bad-tempered, snap at people and then feel guilty afterwards. You might bear someone a grudge for a long time even though you do not know the reason why you did it in the first place.

“Even though I walk through the dark valley of death because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.”- Psalm 23:4

There is no fairy godmother with a magic wand to fix your life when you are going through your darkest moments. Some people, when they are suffering, sometimes draw closer to God and others walk away for good. Whether you are alone or surrounded by people, you have the choice to follow your own path. If you feel unsure, you can try to correct it with another choice and make it right. But it is up to you to take hold of your life and take charge of it.

You might say that it is not easy to do when you feel your world is crumbling. You will need help and support to change your attitude and create a more regular routine. Do not compare yourself to others, especially on social media. They only share the good things that happen to them. Reach out to those you trust and express your feelings. You might be surprised to find that you are not the only one who is feeling down. One phone call, one text message might make someone else feel less isolated.

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” –  The YogaMad

Learn the art of self-care and self-love and stay positive. Fill your time with things that you enjoy so you feel less lonely. Dance or exercise to music, moving your body to the point of losing yourself. It will lift your mood and take your mind off things. If you want something more calming, try meditation. Join an online community or support group. Just keep busy.

Take advantage of free online courses. Learn something new that you have always wanted to do. Join a choir or an art class and discover your hidden talents. Travel the world virtually and explore. Go on a tour of foreign cities and discover new languages and food. No matter what you choose, you are the driver of your own destiny.

Nothing lasts forever

Everything has a time limit – good and bad things.  No matter how bad something is in your life right now, it will not last for ever. You must accept there will be things at which you are not successful, but you will learn to become stronger with each failure. Buddha said, ‘Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.’ So, if things do not work out today, sleep on it and try again tomorrow!

Can You Turn Your Dreams Into Reality?

We are all familiar with dreams, but do you understand its mystery? Dreams are stories that you live through in a fantasy world. Your mind creates vivid images and feelings during certain stages of sleep. They are controlled by your subconscious.

“Dreams are as simple or as complicated as the dreamer” – Brian Herbert

Dreams can happen at any time while you are asleep. They are more vivid during the rapid eye movement stage of sleep. It is believed that you dream four to six times a night even though you might not recall any.  On the other hand, in a lucid dream, you are aware you are dreaming, and can experience feelings of happiness, love, sadness or terror.

Most dreams are quickly forgotten but one or two tend to remain vivid. Those are dreams of passion or fear. Out of nowhere you are chased by a monster. No matter how fast you run, he is still hot on your heels. Or you find yourself dropping from a height at a hundred miles an hour about to crash to the ground. You toss and turn in your sheets, sweat buckets and even scream. You are terrified. Then you wake up and feel silly.

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake” – Henry David Thoreau

If you are one of the dreamers who can influence your dreams, you can change the direction the story is going when you are not happy or feel threatened. You are not only the protagonist of your story but also the narrator. Unlike daydreaming you are in deep sleep and not fully conscious.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – Dumbledore

Daydreaming is a harmless activity and provides a safe place for your mind to wander. You are conscious because you are awake when it is taking place. You let your mind escape and slip in a new world and be distracted by your thoughts. Because you are detached from your present situation, you forget what you were doing five minutes previously.

Because of this lapse of concentration, others see you as disorganised and a time waster. Contrary to what they think, there is evidence that you have an intelligent and efficient brain. According to a study from journal Psychological Science, daydreaming makes you more creative. Your mind processes different modes of thinking and problem solving. It creates new ideas, not unlike a computer programme. This is your mode of coping with everyday life.

“Dreams are free therapy, but you can only get appointments at night” – Grey Livingston

Would you believe that half of your waking life is spent daydreaming? Escaping into a daydream about the future is normal when you feel stress or bored. It is therapeutic. Continuous daydreaming is a sign that you need to take up a new activity or change something in your life. By dreaming about different lives and different roles, you are craving for adventure. You need more stimulation.

Daydreaming and fantasising can be a brilliant source of creative inspiration and motivation resulting in great achievement. The Brontë sisters pretended to be children and produced successful novels. JRR Tolkien daydreamed and created fantasy worlds and characters for Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Albert Einstein conceived his theory of relativity when he allowed his thoughts to wander off from mathematics itself.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – C.S. Lewis

As daydreaming is proven to improve creativity, do not feel guilty when your mind begins to wander. Whether you are doing the dishes, having a shower or staring into space at your desk, tap into your full potential and create the next masterpiece. This is the time when you are more receptive to ideas generated within your subconscious. Can you turn your dreams into reality?