Taboo no more!

Taboo, taboo taboo! We like to label everything we don’t want to deal with as taboo. And one such topic is counselling. The idea of “pulling themselves together” is still so strange to people. People wait to be rescued, but the point is to rescue oneself! The social stigma and the sense of shame attached with counselling prohibit people from actually understanding counselling.

 Let’s keep it simple. You have fever or you are down with flu, what would you do? Worry about it? Hide it from everyone around you? Try to look it up on Google and figure out a solution? Let it bother you all week? None of those right? You would immediately walk to your family doctor and grab some medicines. So simple! Now run the same set of questions in your mind when it comes to stress, anxiety or depression. We all know the result, don’t we?

 So trying to understand why this taboo exists in our country is futile. What’s essential now is to get past it and understand why counselling is a necessity! It’s not solely something for the ‘misbehaving’ children, not meant for the ‘depressed’ lot and certainly not a last resort. Counselling is a gradual process of strengthening oneself, being mindful and enhancing quality of relationships through self-awareness.

 The society we live in is full of stress, anxiety and rage. We can’t possibly run away from it, but we can prepare ourselves to deal with it efficiently and not let it get in the way of our happiness. Be it marriage, or child-related issues; work-life problems or personal insecurities; anything can be dealt with. There is a solution and people just need to learn to ask for help. Asking leads to finding responses and talking leads to resolving. But ultimately, the step has to be taken by us.

 Counselling is not an overnight process and requires commitment and dedication, but is that too much to ask for when the only one benefitting from this is you? We all need someone to talk to, someone who could listen to us unconditionally and someone who would advise but yet help us find our own paths in the journey of life. Hardships can’t be avoided, but we sure can develop the skill to handle them and emerge victorious.

 As the late pioneer American social worker Virginia satir had stated – the problem is never the problem; coping is! The art of learning to cope leads us to a more enriching and fulfilling life. The sooner you develop this art, the more grateful you’ll be; to yourself!

 The blog is based on the following article –

http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/counselling-a-necessity-not-a-taboo

 

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A new year = A new you!

As each year passes by, people reminisce the months gone by and set out for a new adventure that the New Year has to offer. Most likely, you will see people around you making resolutions to stay fit, exercise and eat healthy. While that’s great, what’s worrying is the lack of focus on mental health. With a package of diets, gyms and jogs versus one of high self-esteem, happiness and confidence; the latter seems to lose year after year. Things would be simpler if people realized the two were inter-connected and if people made an effort to target mental health, physical health would come trotting behind.

If counsellors and psychotherapists were visited as often as gym trainers and nutritionists, the world would be not just a fitter, but a happier place too. Mental health is central to every part of our lives; the people around us, our work and our emotions. And this year, strive to achieve better mental health, and these tips may help you:

 – Stop dieting and eat healthy  – It’s not about a diet, it’s about a lifestyle. A diet leads to cravings, higher levels of frustration and typically doesn’t result in permanent weight loss. The more you focus on a diet, the more it displays lack of confidence and poor body image issues which subsequently lead to depression low self esteem. It’s important to understand that the connection between healthy eating and a happier self is strong

  • Join a group and give up your screens – Social isolation is believed to be as injurious to health as smoking. With social media paving a path for people to stay put behind their screens and avoid people, actual interaction between people is becoming rare, thereby leading to loneliness, depression and anxiety. Share experiences with people, not with Facebook; share meals with friends, not photos of the same on Instagram and most importantly share your lives with people around you!
  • Exercise – If physical health depends on mental health, then it works vice versa too. You need to move your body to keep your mind active. Happiness is the goal and if endorphins (the little happy hormones released during exercise) help you get there, why not try it?
  • Seek help – And of course, lastly and if one may say so, most importantly, seek help! Only those who ask for help get it and only those who try to resolve problems succeed. If we rush to a doctor when we sneeze, then why do we hesitate to do so when we are feeling low mentally? Talking leads to resolving and seeking help leads to finding it.

These are really simple ways of leading a happy, stress-free and healthy life. It’s time we take to these measures before we are left with no choice but to look at more complicated ones! Let’s make this year a year to count in every little way possible. And remember, mental and physical health are two sides of the same coin; the coin being you! To a new year and a new you!

This blog is based on the article –
The best New Year’s resolutions focus on mental health, not physical health

Women-let them fly!

Recently, at an event, Priyanka Chopra gave an inspiring speech about women breaking the glass ceiling. The video has been doing the rounds on social media, but how many women are able to do it – is a million dollar question. How practical is it for women to implement such ideas in our country?

Suicide of IIT scholar Manjula Devak in May 2017 shows us the emptiness of such thinking. Manjula Devak was a 28 year old independent woman who committed suicide (perhaps because of marital issues regarding freedom to do as she pleased) in Delhi.  Dowry harassment and lack of support from her family led her to take such an extreme step. So where is the equality, if qualified women like her in the end succumb to an issue like dowry? She is just one recent example, but we all know the numbers are shockingly high.

However harsh it may seem the fact is that ideology of equality is restricted to an extremely small number of families in our country; while the rest are seated comfortably engulfed by a strong set of old-fashioned beliefs.

Taking the example of Devak; self-sufficient, independent and educated – yet succumbed to the pressure of dowry harassment and family issues. If even someone like her is not encouraged to stand up for herself and break barriers, how do we expect women in rural areas to do so? How do we ever expect such a huge population to become stronger?

Things are changing, people are moving towards newer ideas, innovations and boundaries; but are they willing to let go of the antiquated practices? Sadly, the answer here is clear – only a handful of them!

Women are often caught between two ends – old restraints and new ambitions. To avoid such tragedies, we are left with two options – either we don’t give women the wings to fly or we let them fly without building glass ceilings for them!

Times have changed and so have the values. Marriage, especially arrange marriage, is not as simple as it used to be. Women are far more independent and display lesser tolerance to injustice. When parents do get daughters married, they must be willing to support their daughter irrespective of the fact that they are married. The old thinking of ‘once a girl gets married she has to live and die at husband’s place’ must change. The parents must continue to care for their daughter and what best way to do that than giving her permission to free herself from an abusive marriage? The right kind of support from parents at the right time can not only help save a life, but also help them start a new life….. a more content and meaningful life.

While we talk about breaking the glass ceiling, we could also take a minute and think about why the glass ceilings are even being created in the first place. Can’t the sky be the limit for men and women alike? Maybe it can, and it soon will. Carrying that hope in our hearts, let’s pledge to change in every little way to make the world a safer place for women – safe from their own fears!

The blog is based on the article –

https://scroll.in/article/839491/behind-the-suicide-of-an-iit-scholar-in-delhi-a-struggle-between-new-ambitions-and-old-restraints

When a HUG becomes a BUG!

Recently, a student from Kerala was expelled from his school for having hugged a girl for way too long in the school campus. Yes, you read that right; expelled for hugging!

What the student’s claim to be an innocent congratulatory hug, the school has identified as an explicit ‘sexual’ act in the school premises, thereby expelling, defaming and demeaning the two involved. As Shashi Tharoor rightly tweeted – By sexualizing innocent affection between friends and fellow students, we are creating self-conscious hypocrites trained to suppress their feelings. This really gets us thinking – where are we headed? Perhaps backwards?

It seems like stressing out the kids with overwhelming chunks of matter to be learnt year after year didn’t suffice; hence the education system is now keen on aiming at demoralizing them from all perspectives. Discipline sure is essential, in any school and in all forms. However, to what extent can a school go to maintain discipline at the cost of compromising on a child’s entire life ahead? With board exams up against them next year, the children feel lost and helpless, and are unable to believe a casual hug between them caused this uproar.

What messages are being passed on to children across the country? Co-ed schools are a good way for girls and boys to understand each other, learn to co-exist and of course, make friends too! Perhaps as a school, their duty is to keep “such” activities away from the campus, but in case of such an event, is this the way to handle it? Where is the sensitivity? Dealing with students of that age is so delicate. It can make or break them And with the news being blown out of proportion, we already know where this is headed. With technology and education moving ahead, the moral compassing is only pushing us backwards!

Building strong character, high self-esteem and confidence in children is way more important than teaching them to learn book after book. And by dealing with a “hug” this way, the former is far from being achieved. They are going to walk out as weak, demoralized, humiliated children. So one can only imagine what kind of adults they would be.

These kids are the next generation. And instead of holding their hands and guiding them in the right direction, they are being held and dragged out of their own schools, again, just for a hug! It’s time we change more than just our education system. It’s time we change our perspective and our outlook towards children, especially adolescents. And rest assured, with the right guidance, adolescents and teenagers would step into adulthood with more clarity and stronger character.

This blog is based on the article –

https://www.google.com.sg/amp/www.deccanchronicle.com/amp/nation/current-affairs/201217/just-a-friendly-hug-school-made-it-sexual-says-expelled-kerala-student.html

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LOVE – ‘Made in China’

The clothes we wear, products we use and now, the love we find, could all be ‘Made in China’. China has introduced schools for dating, offering courses in ‘How to fall in love’. Well, clearly there’s nothing China can’t do. The courses offer tips on grooming, flirting and finally dating. It ensures that students pass out not with flying colours but with girlfriends!

What caused this? Why did someone wake up one morning and decide to impart knowledge regarding dating? Well, one contributing factor could have been the previous policy of having only one child with the added male child preference in the country ; hence causing a lot of men to be left alone, feeling heart-broken. With the fear that unhappy, single men could bring up the rate of human trafficking and sex crimes, organizations are setting up centers to make men confident to go out and find true love for themselves.

While it sounds bizarre, it makes one wonder, whether this could be a valid option for India too. India too, like China, has been caught in the web of arrange marriages, with little exposure given to the youth about dating. Times sure are changing, but how sensibly are people looking for love? Would a course help them understand the path to be taken?

Knowing how to date or fall in love is a debatable topic as some may believe these are actions that must happen naturally. However, what one could definitely be trained in is identifying one’s own needs before stepping out to find a partner. Most failed relationships portray unmet expectations, not incorrect partners. And there are very few young souls out there who know what they actually want with a clear picture of who’ll be able to meet those needs. They wish to find “love” with the hope that ALL their needs would be met. And that unrealistic start to a relationship ensures a rocky road ahead.

With single stream schools a favorite among conservative Indian parents, till the age of 16, boys and girls are unsure of how to even make conversation with people of the other gender. And when such people set out to find girlfriends/boyfriends, mistakes tend to happen, hearts tend to get broken. With no prior experience in grooming or healthy flirting, they either hesitate to make a move or sometimes err on the other side by saying too much. And perhaps, now it doesn’t seem incongruous to have such courses for the youth.

Maybe soon enough, we’ll have even schools and courses here with ‘made in China’ label; with the hope that they love they find after such a course would actually last long, unlike other Chinese products.

This blog is based on the article –

Times of India-Bangalore edition-Page 14-19th November 2017-‘Now,China has courses in dating’.-www.timesofindiaepaper.com

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13 reasons Why!

TV shows have always been considered bad for kids and the old school of thought promotes banning them for children. But some new age shows are emerging with meaning that help bring awareness to topics that were otherwise taboo. And we sure can say that India needs some change in this regard.

The popular show among teens “13 reasons why” has caused a stir among parents, internationally and in India too, wondering if it’s appropriate for their children to watch it. It may seem a little overwhelming, especially for sensitive children, however, its bringing t everyone’s attention a very serious, yet neglected issue among teens – depression, ending with suicide. It’s a teen’s narration of events in her life that led to her committing suicide. In the wake of the new show, parents are rightfully obligated to speak to their teens about it and this could be a great start to discussing such a delicate yet important topic.

Robert Myers., child and adolescent psychologist, believes it’s important to tackle these issues smartly and delicately. If the teens are already watching the show and the parents bring up the topic, a teen’s first reaction to it is one of defense. A parent has to ensure that they don’t broach the subject with negativity, instead treat like any other discussion.
Moreover, during any discussion relating to depression, a parent must refrain from using any fearful tone that would send the child on a guilt trip and eventually lead him to going into a shell. The teen must know that the parents trust him/her and will stand by his/her side come what may. That foundation of faith is essential for any child to open up about his feelings and confide in his/her parents. On the other hand, including your own life-examples could help establish an empathetic relationship and make the teen feel comfortable.

Furthermore, parents are unsure about how often they should talk about it. Robert Myers is certain that just talking about it once won’t suffice but at the same time, bombarding them with facts and statements about depression every now and then is ineffectual.

It may seem difficult to find the right mix of all ingredients to perfect parenting and it’s quite impossible to draw up a recipe, however what salt is to food, communication is to parenting. You can skip some things but always be there to talk to your child and listen too. Shows like these could be treated as blessings in disguise that are helping people discuss depression more openly with the hope of helping their kids stay away from it or in some cases overcome it. But that also makes us wonder, did we really need a show or a book like “13 reasons why” to share such things with our teens? Why were we waiting for someone to give us a push for something as important as depression? Some food for thought, maybe?

This blog is based on the article –

https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/psychology/talking-to-your-teen-about-depression-in-the-wake-of-13-reasons-why/#.WikU17SZ2gQ

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Calm Parenting!

Children are amazing at aping and all parents certainly are aware of that! And hence all parents are so cautious of their actions and words because they never know when their children will pick the same and reproduce it most unexpectedly! Well, it’s not just your actions they are watching. Your anxiety too is at the risk of being aped by your kids.

Anxiety breeds anxiety!

No solution has ever been found by taking the path of anxiety. In fact, it could only add to your problems. Parenting sure is a challenging job; perhaps the most tedious one, to have ever existed. And unconsciously, anxiety sets in. But what’s more dangerous is that the same anxiety could be passed on to your child.

Now when a parent is faced with a situation at home, the first reaction to it is the most important; which is bound to stay in your child’s mind forever. If a parent takes a minute to first calm himself/herself before addressing the child regarding an issue, the panic level of the situation is minimized to a great extent; thereby making way for one to actually resolve an issue with an effective solution . And we all know that wouldn’t have happened if things had heated up.

How a parent deals with a problem eventually transforms into how a child deals with one. Kids are kids. They are supposed to make mistakes, they are supposed to goof up and annoy us. But parents are adults. And taking a minute before reacting is what any adult must do, thereby ensuring children turning into calm adults as well.

Anger is usually caused by a feeling of disappointment when a child doesn’t do as he is instructed to. A parent feels accountable for every mistake a child makes, which is unfair. An adult is solely responsible for how they react to a mistake, not for the mistake. The minute a parent understands this distinction, things get calmer. One cannot ensure that a child does everything right all the time, its plain impossible! But what’s possible is one’s behaviour towards the child that could in fact influence his/her action the next time around. A child who is not blamed and reprimanded for every little mistake is actually motivated to try again and perhaps succeed too!

Well, this goes to say that the trending “keep calm” slogan is something we all must really put to use, especially while parenting!

This blog is based on the article –

https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/calm-parenting-get-control-child-making-angry/

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Goofing up is OK!

Children make mistakes; all the time! They fall down, they spill things over, they forget chores, they mess up at school and so on. And they are always expected to apologize. Because we want them to learn to say sorry. While that’s not incorrect, it’s incomplete! The only way to ensure children learn to accept mistakes and realize it’s not the end of the world, is to apologize when you are at fault too.

Psychologists have observed that children absorb, absorb, absorb and then reproduce all of it. Unfortunately, one can’t tell when the reproduction happens, and when it does it might be too late to reverse the learning. Children are observant of every little thing they see and are watching all our actions. And without our knowledge they are picking up nuances from our behaviours.

When children make mistakes, they feel embarrassed, guilty and scared. Hence, when they see adults make mistakes and accept them, it reduces the fear of a mistake. They start to see that mistakes are common, and could be made by anyone; adults too. Apologizing for a mistake and moving on gives them the courage to do the same.

At times, parents are worried that if a child makes a mistake and is subjected to name-calling by other people, it could damage the self-confidence of a child. It could, but temporarily! Because how you deal with it at home could decide whether the child can gain his/her confidence back.

The more attention you give to such details, the more aware you will be of your child’s feelings. However, it’s important to simplify things for your child so he/she doesn’t believe that every mistake is a disaster! While they shouldn’t be ignoring mistakes and moving on like nothing happened, they shouldn’t also be collapsing after having made a mistake. Picking them up, moving ahead and regaining confidence – an essential process for a child to grow into a strong adult.

So, if we behave as strong adults and showcase sensible behaviour, we are helping in building a strong, confident generation.

This blog is based on the article –

http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/you/parentry-say-sorry-when-i-goof-up/articleshow/61727916.cms?

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Let’s get real!

Motherhood brings in a whole new change! It comes rushing in with bursts of joy and love! And unfortunately, in the case of 90 percent of Indian mothers, stress comes tailing behind. Stress caused by the pressure to be a perfect parent!

While the pressure to be a perfect mom is a global concept, surveys have revealed that it’s more common in India due to various factors. Motherhood sure is huge step, that kicks off with the pregnancy, distinct changes in one’s body and then comes the baby; that’s when it’s supposed to be a true celebration, but often is accompanied by a nagging pressure to be good at it.

Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor Varkha Chulani says that there is indeed nothing like a perfect mother. There are no fixed rules or norms one could follow. The pressure is felt when one believes that one must not make any mistake. Now that’s highly impossible right? Humans are prone to making mistakes, in any realm of life and fortunately, making a mistake is not the end of the world. And she adds that, the more natural and instinctive one is, one doesn’t falter much.

To add on, Dr Uday Pai, past president of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, says that in India, one of the main reasons for increased pressure is the fact that a mother is bogged down by two sets of grandparents. Contrasting suggestions from each set of grandparents increase the level of stress for a mother, especially a new mother, who is already dealing with her own issues.

Surveys brought out various fears new mothers face right from not looking good post pregnancy to not feeling confident about being a good mother; from wondering what is right for their baby to worrying about not having time for themselves.

Furthermore, with the number of articles and tips the online world has to offer, a mother is left feeling bewildered! Who can tell her what is right and what is wrong? Now, this is where psychologists believe that a mother must follow her heart, her definitive instincts and step into the world of parenting with a positive attitude.

The key to positive parenting starts with the mother feeling good and confident about herself. Bodies ought to change and will change! But with a healthy lifestyle, one can always go back to being how they were before pregnancy. Meanwhile, the focus should be on eating well and feeling good. And with respect to being perfect moms, its valid to be worried. Even Dutchess Kate Middleton had similar fears. But getting over them, and going with natural instincts is the key to being a REAL mom, which hold more value, right?

The blog is based on the following article –

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/parenting/being-a-real-mom-vs-a-perfect-one/articleshow/58657310.cms

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Heartache for Sale!

Why do we sell our old stuff? To get rid of junk, maybe! To avoid accumulation of unwanted things over the years; to be able to make place for new things to come along. Imagine doing all of the above for your broken relationships! Get rid of the heartache, move on and make place in your heart for a new relationship. Weird, but oddly satisfying right?

Vietnam has its own market for heartache , allowing people to discard the things given by their ex-lovers. It’s a sign of moving on. After having gone through a heartbreak, people find themselves depressed and unable to carry on with their daily routine. They said this market acted as a closure for them as it helped them dispose all the stuff they could no longer bear to look at. They also found it oddly relieving to see that there are so many others who have gone through similar break-ups and that gave them strength to move on easily.

This market is of significant importance in a place like Vietnam, where till just a generation ago, arranged marriages were extremely common. This concept of heart-ache and moving on is a symbol of the change over the past few years and how with the use of social media, dating and break-ups are no more rare.

Social attitudes have changed drastically with the country adopting western country norms, almost replicating the situation in India today.

Dating is common, so are break-ups! And moving on after a break-up is essential! It avoids baggage being carried on to new relationships! And as a concept, this is a treat to psychologists and counsellors. However, the question here is – why are there so many break-ups? Why is the youth finding it difficult to hold on to relationships? Of course social media has a huge role to play here!

With the number of options available online, everyone always feels they could get better, they could find someone better. Rising expectations and the greed to always find “the best”, cause people to lose interest in the current relationships with a continuing search for better ones. And it’s time the youth halts for a bit to understand themselves better and aim at having more successful relationships!

Having said that, today, the trend is to have several relationships before finding “the one” and it sure is healthy to have access to a heartache market. The bottom line is – emotional baggage of any kind is dangerous! So in case you don’t have access to such a market, set up one for yourself – your very own junkyard. And start afresh !

The blog is based on the following article – http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/11/05/17/heartache-for-sale-at-vietnams-ex-lovers-market

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