When it comes to Wellness, what matters?
Mind and Body have been studied as two separate aspects by philosophers who have been intrigued by their dualistic nature but it’s important to consider their inter-connected role in lifestyle wellness. In India, many centuries ago, our ancestors had a more holistic view and understood how the different dimensions of wellness affected our functioning. For example, they focused not just on their physical well-being but also on their spiritual needs through practices like yoga and meditation.
However, the current scenario in India has a huge contrast as researches show that physical symptoms are more likely to motivate a person to seek medical assistance or therapy than psychological disturbances, leading to poor mental, social, spiritual and economic well-being amongst people.
For example, there are instances where you might have various thoughts regarding your profession, the job you are currently doing, your family-spouses, children and parents for whom you have to provide financially, your life purpose and so many other thoughts. These things may show in simple things like irregular eating, not getting enough sleep or you becoming absent-minded or forgetful because you are constantly thinking about this. As your physical and mental health deteriorate, other dimensions such as your financial or occupational wellness will start deteriorating as well.
Even though people are still getting accustomed to wellness and understanding its dimensions, the concept is still perceived to be the responsibility of the doctor and the family, but, we do have more people like psychologists and life coaches involved now.
Wellness, also, doesn’t limit itself to physical domains and disorder-free life, it ensures prevention by integrating mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects into a whole so that the system works as a unit.
Here are some of the ways you can deepen your connection with yourself:
Environmental and social resources for health can include peace, economic security, a stable ecosystem, and safe housing.
Individual resources for health can include physical activity, a balanced diet, social relationships, healthy boundaries, emotional control, and autonomy. The chances of internal resiliency and wellness increases with better use of personal space in life.
Let’s explore the importance of Personal Space in Wellness
If you’re an Indian, you can most probably relate with the concept of ‘Having No Personal Space’, which in reality is important for several reasons.
First, You explore yourself, your talents and develop a sense of agency when you spend some time with yourself. You build healthy boundaries, and assertiveness without compromising on your needs. What you practice at home, is what you reflect outside, in social settings;
Second, you understand the importance of having opinions that aren’t enmeshed with those of your family’s. You explore taste in music, friends, and even your life partner and form an identity of your own;
Third, It helps you practice healthy responses to negative situations or stress which can only be possible when you can think clearly, away from the situation.
We can’t control our surroundings or for the fact how people respond but we can choose to create such a space for ourselves. Personal space can be practiced, in spaces where we spend a lot of time: our bedrooms, our living rooms, our workspaces, through physical and mental exercises like Yoga, Cardio, Expressive and Movement exercises, skincare routine, etc.
Make Your Positive, Negative, and Neutral Experiences Count
Children who often relocate with their family to different places, especially those whose parents are government officials, are more likely to face difficulty in adapting to an environment which may lead to maladaptive habits that are undertaken to reduce stress, emotional insecurity, and distorted thinking in a social context. If you’re someone who has experienced something similar, you can learn to create a healthy environment with positive cues that promote healthy behavior, journal your thoughts that can help you understand the consequences of your behavior, identify and prioritize goals, and design a subjective plan which works best for you, and Gratitude Journaling is also a great way to go about it.
In the well-known bollywood movie Taare Zameen Par, we can see how Ishaan Awasthi struggles in school academically and socially- be it doing well in a test or making friends. The pressure to do well in his studies was so overwhelming but he was able to find an activity (painting) that was an outlet for him. Finding an activity that helps you get in touch with yourself and be yourself is very necessary. It can also help you understand yourself and get an identity.
Rural to Urban Phenomenon
We’ve seen and heard of situations in which people travel to different places, national or international, in search of better opportunities and usually face difficulties in terms of adjusting to a new environment, finding proper lodging, economic stability, clean and healthy food to eat and exploitation by employers.
According to the overseas employment department of the Government, every year about 7-8 lakh people go abroad. The challenges and obstacles faced whilst being in a new place can create an imbalance in your lifestyles as well.
The perfect example of this can be found in the movie ‘The Illegal’ in which a youth goes to America to study cinematography but has to drop out and stay in a menial job to pay the loan he took from the owner, who exploited many other people like him by confiscating their passport, making them illegal immigrants. Many people in India find themselves stuck in a loop of dead-end jobs, trying hard to make ends meet and support their family in any way possible, which affects their mental, physical, emotional, social, and economic wellness. They also end up feeling very lonely and lose the connection with their roots.
Sex, Gender, and Wellness
Gender has a major impact on how we view wellness in a woman and a man because each gender has a predefined role to play in this society, which determines how socially appropriate their behavior is. Due to gender disparity in Indian society, both women and men lead different lives despite being a part of the same community. Now there are obvious biological and physiological differences when it comes to women going through menstruation, PMS, pregnancy, birth, and menopause that affect their wellness but when these obvious differences are used to create social, economical, political, and educational inequality, they suffer. Masculine patterns of behavior and mindset promote suppression of emotional connection and interdependent reciprocation. It allows denial of expression which possibly causes men to ignore symptoms of minor illness, stress, grief, and pain.
For someone belonging to the LGBTQ community, social isolation exists on a much bigger scale, leading to an imbalance in your lifestyles. This may be related to coming out as someone belonging to the queer community, worrying about how friends and parents will react or going through body changes.
Sex workers in India, mostly women, are the most disadvantaged community for various reasons such as Sex being a taboo subject in this country, discrimination and violence against them, denial of basic human rights and health care facilities, and absence of proper laws to protect them. Whatever the issue is, the different aspects of wellness will get affected collectively, eventually leading to a very undesirable lifestyle.
Roots are only strong when they are nourished
Senior Citizens of India have been considered the head of the family who is respected and given importance in every serious family decision. But times are changing which is bringing along changes in attitude and social constructs. The elderly population fear isolation due to being considered a burden on their family, increased dependency on others, death anxiety, and members moving away in search of jobs, are some factors which affect their holistic wellness.
According to the census of 2011, about 103.9 million people fall under the category of “senior citizens” in India. A lot of them are either bedridden or still working and paying for their own expenses so that they are not perceived as a burden. 2015-16 AISCCON survey shows that 60 per cent of elderly people living with their families face abuse and harassment, 66 per cent are either very poor or below the poverty line and 39 per cent have been either abandoned or live alone.
Baghban portrays this culture change where Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini played the role of a senior couple, who spent their lives taking care of their children, providing for them, and nurturing them, but when it came down to support them after retirement, their children treated them indifferently and viewed them as a liability.
Wellness is a practice for all which can be altered and designed in terms of physical exercise, eating healthy food, and practicing self-love, for a specific population and their level of functionality. This whole interdependence of the dimensions is a loop and will go on until you take charge of your life and decide to do something. Start slow. Baby steps are huge and will help you achieve a holistic lifestyle. You can maybe start with a habit that you have always wanted to follow but always gave excuses like “Kal karenge”, “Too much work” or even “Mujhse nahi Hoga”. Or you can also start with other simple activities like yoga, meditation and journaling.