Me, Mental Health, & I

Let’s not go down a rabbit hole just yet

The mardi gras of crap

  1. Waking up in the morning, lying in bed motionless, eyes open but not actually being able to move and having a general feeling of dread for the day ahead of me. If you’ve ever seen a film set in a remote Nordic village where someone falls in a lake and trapped under a thick layer of ice (possibly pushed by the local devil child or trainee vampire) — I was that guy.
  2. Becoming mute in either a meeting or presentations — pretty awkward when I was the organiser of the meeting or when I was the person suppose to be presenting!
  3. Panic attacks in elevators, fearing the walls caving in on me but having a greater fear of someone entering the lift.
  4. Being so consumed with worry about a particular situation’s long term outcome that my ability to deal with anything in the present would be completely paralysed.

Help when I needed it

  1. I began practising Mindfulness. I won’t go into the full definition of Mindfulness here but it’s incredible to see the traction it’s had in recent years across so many different sectors. From startups to large corporations, the effect of mindfulness practices is not to be understated. It is changing people’s lives and the organisations at which they spend so much of their energy and time. Mindfulness treatment is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) and is an NHS recommended treatment for a number of mental health conditions. I discovered it by chance when I was in a particular low point. I was watching BBC breakfast early 2010’s when I heard an interview of Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman. Together they wrote what has become a groundbreaking book in the field: Mindfulness — A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. It has been the text that I have carried around with me since I saw that interview and I recommend it to everyone I talk to on the subject. I’ve purchased it for many of my friends as well as for my employees when I ran mindfulness sessions at YunoJuno. Even though I’ve tried other tools like Headspace (which is excellent btw), this small book is the resource I continually come back to and its 10 minute guided mediations are the things I do every single day. But if app’s a more your thing, I’ve also recently started using Calm and I’m very impressed with its simplicity and structure in focusing on very specific areas. Pretty easy to see why they have made such a mark in such a short space of time.
  2. I took fitness seriously (or at least more serious than sitting on my sofa watching ninja warrior). Today I run, cycle and sometimes box, as often as I can. I try and do this in the mornings either in a dedicated time slot or as part of my commute. I find that doing this in the morning helps me get my head straight for the upcoming day. There’s also less chance of me conveniently finding other ‘important’ tasks that stop it from happening.
  3. I make sure I start the day by being grateful. I know there are a lot #grateful posts on the internet these days and I’m not trying to intentionally dis them, but I keep it very personal and quiet. I simply say three things I’m grateful for and leave it at that. It’s amazing that taking three minutes at the start of each day to simply remember and be thankful does to your outlook and interactions for the rest of the day.
  4. I took more time to stop and think what my actions or reactions might make someone feel and tried to look at things from their perspective more. Growing up in a Christian home, the concept of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was drilled into me at a very early age. But you don’t have to have been raised in any particular faith to appreciate that this is pretty solid advice. You think Mike Tyson would have made himself an ear sandwich if he had that nugget rolling around in his prefrontal cortex?
  5. I sleep more. Oh man, if someone told me the effect sleep (or lack thereof) would do to my cognitive state when I was younger I would have probably saved myself a lot of anguish. The fact of the matter is, sleep isn’t an unproductive, bit-of-nuisance chore. It’s very seriously like that pill Bradley Cooper takes in Limitless. Beyond the “I feel wrecked” state I find myself when I get little sleep, I’ve been able to see a direct correlation between the amount of sleep I get and my cognitive awareness and mental state. So much so that it’s now the thing that governs my movements every day.

Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.

- Ali Ibn Abi Talib AS

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Shib Mathew

Shib Mathew

Founder & Chairman of YunoJuno.com. I believe the future of work is freelance. Mental health advocate. High tolerance for most things except impoliteness.