“I felt desperate, like I had to change something, at least one thing I could control.” Lisa Allen, an avid smoker, divorcee, depressed, anxious, and angry thirty-four-year-old woman, one day decided to change her life, quit smoking, and develop a goal for herself in life. Four years later, the same Lisa Allen started a master’s degree, lost sixty pounds, and bought her own home (The Power of Habit).
With technology developing, connectivity increasing and society’s age-old perceptions changing, the world has progressed, like never. However, an often hidden and unspoken truth of our developing world, is the increase in mental health disorders among individuals across all ages. The onset of COVID-19 only escalated these cases multifold by instilling a feeling of constant fear and helplessness among everyone. However, as the theory of evolution states, nature selects those who are better adapted to their surroundings. But how is it in our control to take charge of these circumstances? Who is responsible for our mental well-being and health?
It is our own thoughts and choices that control our well-being. It is our own self-limiting beliefs that challenge our happiness and success. It is our own perception of abilities that determine the state of our mental health. That is why an individual with confidence and trust in himself, is mentally strong while an individual who is insecure often feels anxious when situations get even a little out of his control.
The biological approach to psychology states that events in our life create a network of neural connections that provoke thoughts, actions, and emotions in our minds. This neural network is built on random experiences based on the rewards or pain we receive for our actions. For example, disruptive or painful events in our lives provoke negative emotions and change our response to situations later in life. Often when individuals’ are unable to handle such negative emotions, they tend to blame the world and other factors around them. We seek help in managing such feelings and hope for accommodation in our state. However, the truth is the cure lies within us if we are open to accepting and trying to resolve it.
We are biologically wired to feel happy and positive when our happy hormones- dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin- are released. These hormones affect different aspects of our wellbeing, such as our mood, motivation, bonding, and other related feelings. However, these hormones do not flow continuously but are only released when we accomplish or do some activity that can enhance the release of hormones. This can include getting adequate sleep, physical exercise or setting and achieving goals for oneself. For everyone these goals could differ and making ourselves aware of them and then taking steps to reach them, can boost our well-being and happiness. Considering the importance of hormones in our well-being, it is our responsibility to make informed choices that keep our mental and physical well-being in order, healthy and in balance. These choices can drive us to be the best version of ourselves.
We can see how Lisa Allen, despite the many external factors that she could have blamed for her problems, took charge of her mental health, and turned her life around in one day. Similarly, Joseph from the Bible, despite a complicated and troubled life going out of his control and being sent to prison, developed a self-driven attitude, and made choices that displayed his self-confidence. He added meaning to his life by taking charge of those held in prison, boosting his mental health and well-being.
However, despite our understanding of these tips, we are unable to make accommodations in our lives. The reason behind this is the lack of awareness and acceptance of our mental state. To gain an understanding of our mind it is important to consult therapists. However, initiating and implementing these actions depends on our resolve to do so.
Therefore, the magic perhaps lies in bringing balance to our daily lives. Eventually it is all based on the choices we make that support our growth and healing at the same time. By engaging in relaxing and recreational activities during a stressful week or making a schedule or journaling our thoughts, we must keep aiming to create a more mindful and happier lifestyle for ourselves.