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Meet our columnist, Juhi. She’s an acupuncturist, wellness and health guru, activist, CEO and founder of The Juhi-Ash Center in New York City’s Upper East Side. Each month, she’ll be answering your questions and sharing her tips on how to live a healthier, more centered life from a holistic perspective. Got questions? Follow her @juhisays and DM us @byrdie so she can answer them in her next column.
Your mind excels at multitasking. It can ponder the purchase of new shoes in the same instance it convinces you your feet are weird-looking. I imagine you have perfectly fine feet. Our minds can be as insistently bothersome as shoes that pinch. With relentless planning, organizing, criticizing and worrying, does it seem like your mind never takes a rest? Here’s the good and bad news. It never does. At least not of its own accord. There is plenty for your mind to observe and process. And plenty you can do to ease it and enjoy. You just have to put your mind to it and, when necessary, ask for help. Trust me, I know neither of those scenarios are on the easy-peasy side of your to-do list.
First, let’s look at the difference between depression and disappointment. We are apt to interchange their meanings when we speak. Have you ever caught yourself saying, "I’m so depressed"? They didn’t have those shoes in my size. That is disappointment. Depression is an illness. It is brought on by many things from your history, like a physical illness or life-altering event, or an imbalance in the brain. In this moment, each of us has had a life altering event. An event that has focused us on the importance of the pandemic aftermath. A nutritionist will say you are what you eat. A psychiatrist will say you are what you think. A therapist will say you are what you feel. As an Ayruvedic specialist, I say—it's all three, and a few more.
Start with meditation. Meditation is simply recognizing a thought in quietness. It is to be noticed as you would notice a feather blowing by your nose. You acknowledge it’s a feather, but you do not wonder what kind of bird it came from. Don’t worry, there are no lost thoughts. That thought will appear again. Write it down. Write down the thought and the feeling it creates. Then give yourself time to ponder what flock it belongs to. If it is a thought that strengthens a feeling of wellbeing, nurture it. Otherwise, send it flying.
Emotions govern your mind. We are driven by emotion. Yes, I know this is considered a modern-day flaw. Modern-day is wrong. We are wired to feel first, think second. Nothing gets productively sorted in the mind that is not first honored in your emotions. I am not suggesting you make decisions in turmoil. In fact I am suggesting when your emotions are flurried and you don’t know what to do—do nothing. Take time to consider where that emotion comes from. When you are aware of why you do what you do, it's easier to do better. Go easy. One revelation at a time. Each one is necessary for the next to occur.
It is increasingly recognized that sleep is closely linked to mental wellbeing. Ever try to make a decision when you’re exhausted? That rarely goes well. From life decisions to what’s for lunch, a rested body supports a clear mind. We all have the occasional sleepless night, but if you experience sleepless weeks, please see your healthcare professional. Disturbed sleep can be caused by mental stress or physical ailments.
Guilt is the feeling of doing wrong, while shame is the feeling of being wrong. Guilt can be a powerful motivator in changing behavior for the better. Shame, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Shame makes you feel that change is hopeless because the problem is you. Let me stop you right there. You are not a problem. You may need some clarity, yes, but negative feelings are not a reflection of your value. You are valuable. Shame often accompanies depression and stops you from seeking help. Non-judgmental professional help is out there. The brain is an organ. The same as any organ. There is no shame or weakness in asking for help. Read that again.
Understanding Toxic Positivity
In every negative there is positive. In every positive there is negative. That’s simple yin and yang balance. While positive affirmations and a positive outlook can be helpful in reaching your desired destination, they can also sink the ship. Gratitude fosters positivity, but nothing in gratitude says to limit other emotions. Just like energy, inauthenticity enters the room before you do. There is nothing authentic in devaluing your human emotions. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Why am I speaking of home concerning your mental health? Home is not only the people you live with or the dwelling that surrounds you. Home references self and soul. For me, the most important home to care for is yourself; your being. No matter where you live, your body will always be your true home. You gotta do the work. Love your family, love your friends—but most importantly love yourself. Flaws and all.
I’d like you to switch now from my words to your own. Open your phone and write three things you know to be true of yourself, three things you know not to be true, and three things you are grateful for. I’ll get you started on that one. I am grateful for this complex mind and my ability to guide it towards contentment. Be well.