Training the mind
In today's world where depression and anxiety are our frequent companions, a clutch of mindfulness apps are helping improve mental health
What is the most important part of the human body? For me, it has to be the brain. The heart is essential too as it pumps blood and keeps our body going. But it is not uncommon to hear that a bed-ridden, gravely unwell person made a miraculous recovery because of sheer will power. That is the brain at work!
Our brain controls the central nervous system and dictates how we feel and react to situations. We are often told to control our mind and all else will be fine. Train the brain to feel happy, coach it to help us achieve success, improve it to aid in overcoming obstacles. Our body and every organ are dependent on how our brain functions. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before we not only devoted our time to Pilates, weight-training, and physical fitness but also focussed on our mental health and wellness. The current times are such that mental health cannot be ignored. Continuous phases of sadness, low self-esteem, and discontentment at professional and personal fronts often make for a dangerous cocktail of depression, belligerence, and recklessness.
Our lives today are full of challenges, existential questions, unhappiness, regrets, indecisions, and procrastination. We are distracted easily, we envy quickly, and remain deeply sad that our lives did not pan out the way we had planned. Social media makes everyone else's life look more glamourous, full-filling, and exciting. Ours in comparison seems dull and staid. In many cases, this is actually untrue. There are joys and successes in all our lives but since we are constantly comparing our lives with the next Instagram story, we fail to see our own reasons of happiness and gratitude.
Millennials are that strange species that are changing all our social and cultural habits. They love their instant coffee like their instant love. They want relationships that look Facebook-perfect but not the challenges that come with it. There is no end to materialism and the number of places to travel. The attention span of the millennial is disrupted with the swipe of a finger and their innards filled with self-hate as they pine for that imagined life. As an early millennial (we don't necessarily belong to the group but are like the senior citizens calculated based on the year of our birth!), I sometimes feel that my brain's control room is managed by a bunch of monkeys. Daily life seems a rigour where routine suffocates. Counsellors and psychiatrists are either ill-trained or very expensive. So how does one cope? Thank goodness for technology.
Several applications that help train the mind making us feel calm, peaceful, and happy, are at our disposal now. Whether it is meditation you seek or simply mellifluous tones of chirping birds or waves crashing on the shore, these apps have it all. Isn't that convenient? Apps such as Headspace, Buddhify, Breathe, Calm, The Mindfulness App, Smiling Mind etc. step up when you want to step down.
A World Health Organisation report states that depression plagues over 5 crore Indians while over 3 crore suffer from anxiety disorders. Eventually, however, the need may arise for some to speak to a mental health
professional. But there aren't that
many trained professionals either; India has less than 4,000 psychiatrists! So, if you feel that you have not crossed your threshold yet but are keen to take some action, then help is just a download away.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)