Are We Exhausted?

Emotional Exhaustion is real and we need to learn to identify it.

Hey!
And I’m back after a short break from writing (read it as lack of motivation)… It sounds pretty bad, I agree. But here’s the thing, you ought to blame the Pandemic.
I mean the kind of uncertainty and prolonged doom that this has caused and is continuing to; that’s taxing.

While I was away liking my sorrows and venting away I realised that I’m constantly exhausted. The physical exhaustion has been pretty easy. If I feel tired, I plan my day in such a way that I can get away with a power nap or a stress relieving soak.
What’s been difficult is when you’ve to adequate sleep and nutrition with not a very intense day and yet you feel worn out by the end of each day.
I mean, c’mon!
How does that even make sense??

Post a whole lot of speculation, agitated evenings, grumpy mornings and un-willing days I realised it was nothing but my emotions that were tired of keeping up with the surroundings.
Then came the BIG QUESTION: As a psychologist how could i have missed the signs myself??

Just knowing the cause of my discomfort seemed to have eased most of my nerves and filled me with an excitement to find a checklist that would help me avoid all the helplessness that had enveloped me these last few weeks.

17 SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL EXHAUSTION :

  • You find yourself focusing on the negatives
  • You put people away (isolate)
  • Your every action feels like a sacrifice
  • You feel driven by obligations not values
  • You don’t feel fulfilled
  • You don’t feel connected with who you are
  • You have a hard time controlling your behaviour
  • You feel overwhelmed and anxious
  • You have a hard time maintaining or setting boundaries
  • You often feel irritated and irrationally angry
  • You feel hopeless
  • You feel numb or apathetic
  • You lack motivation or purpose
  • Your self-identify as a failure
  • You often feel tired
  • You find it difficult to concentrate or pay attention
  • You find yourself forgetting things

This list was given by Sara Kuburic (MA, CCC).

Once I found this list I decided to make a list of ways in which I could recover from this exhaustion. While I’m sharing mine, I request you to make your own on a sunny day so that rainy days aren’t as grey!

  • Sit down with myself and acknowledge how I’m feeling (you don’t have to justify your feelings; just acknowledge them)
  • Make a quick list of 5 things that you are grateful for and feel lucky about
  • Have a list of people who always lift you up and connect with them
  • Reconnect with yourself- the things that you value and the principles that you hold closest
  • Make a list of activities that you could practice for yourself and enjoy it (cook, garden, paint, practice yoga, dance, listen to music, read a book, etc)
  • Focus on your physical well-being; adequate amount of sleep, having your meals at appropriate times, consuming unto 3 litres of water
  • Distance yourself from social media for minimum 3 days
  • Consider a massage or long bath or a session of meditation

Monsoon Mania

Self Realisation: The arrival of monsoon doesn’t just effect my wardrobe but also the way my body needs to be taken care of!!

Hello people!
How have you been holding up? You know, in addition to the pandemic frenzy we are now in the flu season *sigh*.
While jumping around in puddles and eating those hot coal toasted corncobs are some of my favourite things in this world, along with how the rains amplify the experience of a warm bowl of maggie. Or just how staying snuggled in bed on a sunday morning, under a layer of comforter with your favourite cuppa to the view of the trickling drops staining your windows. Or just taking a cute romantic walk tucked under an umbrella while watching the world around me press pause and change tones.

So after a Vitamin-C rich couple of months and hogging onto those raw salads, I realised that coming of monsoon doesn’t just effect my wardrobe but also the way my body needs to be taken care of.

Here are some simple and necessary tips that could save all of us a lot of unnecessary hassles.

  • Say NO to leftovers
    Not just the ones from the previous day, but say no to leftovers from the same morning as well. Always keep your food covered and in the refrigerators, not on the table or platform. Leftovers raise histamine levels in food, making them cause allergic reactions.
  • WARM WATER- all day, everyday!
    Warm or hot water is ideal for consumption. Cold water can lead to congestion of lymphatic system making you susceptible to infections. This also improves digestion; which is already quite sensitive during this season.
  • BREAKFAST IS A WONDER
    A warm breakfast can do you wonders. That’s right!
    A good option would be a millet porridge with some nut butter. Boiled or roasted sweet potatoes, a vegetable induced flattened brown rice or poha are some options. Also, adding Indian spices could help fire up that digestive juices.
  • Monsoons also mean a greatly increased chance of gut infections and usually the biggest culprits are dairy based products. NO DAIRY- they are very heavy to digest during the monsoon. Or if you cannot quit it altogether, you should consume yoghurt, curd and almonds instead of milk.
  • PICK FRUITS
    Consume lemon, limes, cherries, pomegranate, apples which are more astringent and reduce the monsoon’s impact on your body. Mangoes, watermelon and muskmelons need to be avoided.
  • TEA IT IN
    In two cups of water boil some ginger, a tablespoon each of coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds in two cups of water. Reduce the quantity to one cup. Strain and consume with your meal.
  • Adding spices such as ginger, coriander, cumin, garlic, turmeric, fennel and asafetida (ajwain) makes the food flavourful and save you from the unexpected stomach aches and discomforts.
  • KEEP IT LEAN
    For the non-vegetarians and meat lovers, lean meats like some free-range eggs and freshwater fish for breakfast or lunch. Keep away from heavier animal proteins which are harder to digest, unless combined with spices that fire up digestion. You can use boiled ginger tea to your meals as a digestive support.
  • GO LOW ON SALTS
    Medium to low salt food is highly advisable. Avoid heavy salty food as it causes high blood pressure and water retention.
  • DRY OVER WET
    Watery foods like watermelon, rice, lassi and muskmelon creates swelling in the body. So, opt for foods like corn, gram flour, chick pea etc., which are drying in nature. The best foods on could have during monsoons are brown rice, oats, and barley.
  • BOILED Everything
    Opt for par boiled or boiled vegetable salads instead of raw vegetables in your salads as they contain active bacteria and virus which could lead to infections of either or both the natures!

Let’s talk about skin!
1. Wash your face twice a day with cold water
2. Use less makeup as pores could get clogged
3. Use water/gel based creams
4. Use homemade face packs and peels with natural ingredients
5. Apply a thin layer of sunscreen

These are some of the facts I could accumulate for all of us.
Please do share any tips that you know and I’ve missed out on. Also, do share if you are already following the things that I’ve mentioned above.

FESTIVAL OF SUN BATHING

Here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.

Watching with bulging eyes and a child’s fascination, I held onto Baba’s finger as we walked down the beach. The turquoise waves were glittering against my eyes and the joy of the beach goers was almost infectious.
“Maybe it isn’t just me. I should find out if turquoise is on the happy colour spectrum according to colour psychology”, I made a mental note.
Almost immediately scrapping away the note; like an inquisitive child that’s incapable of containing her curiosity, I shared my thoughts with Baba hoping to catch an insight. He smiled. Continuing to walk as if he had a preset target in mind. But what was the hurry? We were just taking a morning stroll.
Weren’t we?!
Further ahead on the beach, we reached a stretch onto which the city seemed to have shifted its bedrooms. There were people by the hundreds who were laying there, lazy-ing around against the sub-urban busy backdrop. Spread out on their beach towels, generously rubbing sunscreens onto each other, floating on the turquoise creating an illusion of the black spots created when the eye hasn’t adjusted itself to the sudden brightness.
A few more meters and I could taste the salt in every bead that slipped off mu forehead and onto my lips to a degree that I could go on, no more. Not knowing that it was going to be a long walk, I had neither packed a bottle of water nor a hat; just flopping away in a pair of flip-flops which were beginning to feel uncomfortable in all that sand huh was quickly heating up now.
Holding Baba’s finger a bit tighter I silently signalled for him to stop. But to my amazement he did not just continue to walk he also did not look at me for a second. It was as if he too was silently sending me a message that he couldn’t be stopped. Red in the face with borderline dehydration, a growling stomach and now a slightly peaking temper; I held my ground throwing dead weight on Baba’s fingers.
I’m not sure what happened in that minute. What I saw next is not something I had expected. He looked at me with a child’s irritation in his eyes and then pointed at the sky with the awe of a child at an amusement park. I mean, this was beach and not DisneyLand!
I only understood the situation better after his next set of words, “walk a little more for my childhood’s sake?” Only then did my eyes honestly scan the skies to find the sun changing filters every now and then. There were kites all over. It wasn’t January but May, and yet the sky filled with colour.
And so we walked…

In Northern India, the month of January sees a steep drop in temperatures. The days are shorter and the sight of sun is even more rare. And if you have a chance to talk to the members of Gen X and Baby Boomers, you’ll find out that these freezing months and chilled breezes were invites to colourful kites painting the sky bright.


The kite flying, as my grand parents and parents have explained to me, is an excuse to get out in the sun after all that time of being bundled up under layers of clothing and holed up indoors. It is an excuse to get some exercise and release those chemicals while also absorbing some Vitamin D!

Our body produces vit.D by absorbing sunlight. This ‘D’ helps in absorption of calcium, resulting in healthy bones. Along with osteoporosis, it also reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart diseases, depression, diabetes and obesity.
One of the easiest source of vitD that is freely available to all of us is the Sun! But with a growing indoor life style, majority of the world population has a deficiency of it (mostly in the developing and developed nations).

So here are some eatables thatch help you gain more vit.D for a better mood, easier weight loss, stronger bones and better lung functioning.
1. Sesame: It is almost second nature to start craving for sesame (til in hindi) as a part of my regular diet just a soon as the winter comes. They could be just roasted, made into energy balls using jaggery to bind them or in the form of dips! They are one of the most under rated sources of vit.D and easily accessible. (I’m going to share a few links with recipes for the same, at the bottom).
2. Milk & Milk Products: Be it cow milk or alternate sources of milk (soy, almond, etc.), they are both great sources of vit.D! Cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese also contains certain level of vitamin D. Nowadays, there is also fortified milk and milk products available at stores.
3. Mushrooms: They are a delicious source of vit.D as well as potassium. The level of the vitamin varies among the various kinds of mushrooms. Personally, I can add them to everything, right from soups to appetizers and salads to curries and noodles and pastas and rice (just not the desserts).
5. Egg Yolk: Often discarded for its high levels of cholesterol and disliked for its taste, this yellow softness is a sweetheart. The whites contain proteins but the vitamins and minerals are stores away in the yolk, making the consumption of the whole eggs are wiser decision.
6. Orange Juice: While most fruits lack vit.D except for oranges; they are a good source of calcium as well as vit.D. A glass of OJ can provide us with our daily requirement of D!

So here’s me, wishing each one of you a Happy & Vit.D rich kite flying season. May you be rich in it!
Go out more often and absorb as much of it as possible.


Sesame Seed Recipes:
Sesame Ladoo (power balls)
Sesame Dip
Sesame Sticks
Sesame Milk
Misc.

Aesthetic Home Remedies

Your home stocks more than you know! It holds ingredients to a lot of our everyday requirements.

As I change into my comfort night clothes after an evening of pleasantries, celebration and festivities, making my way to the sink with a tray full of things to use before I hit the sack, I realised that this is something I want to share with all of you.
(While it comes from a woman’s routine, it is absolutely hetero friendly; it is actually quite metro!)

There is a lot that goes on with our skin hair and body during the festive season and here’s how I like to prep, mend and maintain taking care of myself.

  • Get as much water as you can. Between meals (never along with the meals), as soon as you wake up, as a mixer, as juices and high water content fruits and vegetables. HYDRATE!
  • Add as much fruit and greens to your diet as you can. They could be your pick me up snack, a side to your mains, or sometimes it is the main.
  • Have green tea… I love playing it up with flavours and sometimes just go with the warm water. It helps a great deal with feeling lighter after heavier meals and is also helpful in digestion.
    Of course, there is the infamous lime in warm water with some ginger in the morning for digestion and weight loss 😉
  • Also, ICE CUBES!!
    I love scrubbing a couple of ice cubes onto my face post washing my face at night. And in case I’m about to use makeup, it is a great way to prep the skin.
  • While mash potatoes are my guilty pleasure, they serve a higher purpose for me. Half a potato peeled and finely grated and used around the eye considerably helps with the under eye.
  • Take a tomato, slice into two with a pinch of turmeric (for added antiseptic benefits) sprinkled on it. Now rub it on your tan affected areas and you’ll see how this simple home trick lightens the skin within a week.
  • For the last minute outings, when my skin isn’t feeling it- just take a teaspoon of honey and scrub it over your face. Leave it on for 10 minutes (I usually prefer visiting my closet during this time). And once you wash your face, you’ll be in for a surprise! The Glow is so worth it!!
    Also, on somedays, I add a pinch of turmeric (remember- antiseptic); it helps with the complexion.

There are somethings that are in my shower cabinet and I hate to run out of:
1. Apple cider vinegar
2. Castor Oil
3. Coconut Oil
4. Boroplus
Let me explain to you why I let these bottles crowd my space.

Apple Cider Vinegar
This one here is God sent.
Take a spoon of the vinegar with three spoons of drinking water in a glass and gulp it down. Do it on the morning after a junk filled and/or heavy dinner or when your stomach hurts.
For the ones with acne scars, fill a container with water and apple cider vinegar in equal quantities. Apply the mix on the scars two to three times a day. With patience, watch how your scars lighten and even disappear.
For the times when dandruff is an issue, take 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water and slowly pour it into your shampooed hair. Allow it to sit there for 5 to 10 minutes before you rinse it. No need to condition your hair after this.

Castor Oil
As a person with very light eyebrows born with hardly any, I use a q-tip dipped in this magic oil apply it generously in the area and leave it on for the night. It is a slow process though.
Before hitting the sack, I use massage a good quantity of it into my skin- face, hands, legs, palms and feet. It nourishes like no other.
For the hair, I’ve been using it along with equipment-proportioned olive oil and almond oil for the last year. The mixture sits tight in the cabinet and I remove the quantity that I need and warm it up before applying. (do not leave it on for more that 45 to 50 minutes).

Coconut Oil
Through summers I prefer using coconut oil for my skin as it is lighter.
Combine it with sugar crystals on your palm and use it as a lip scrub for instant soft pink lips.
It doesn’t suit my scalp, but if you are okay with it add it to the hair oil mix mentioned above and savour the healthy hair!

And most importantly, it’s my favourite makeup remover of all times, from just kohl to a full coverage, you name it and it takes care of it by leaving your skin moisturised.

Boroplus
A coat of it on my lips as I fall asleep is a must! I wake up to soft lips with no chapping or cracks. It works for elbows and heels as well!


All the above pointers are something I swear by!
As the name suggests they are home remedies that I’ve been handed down by my grand mother and mother. Some are quick fixes and some take their own sweet time.
If you plan on trying them, make sure to do a trial patch before you go all out, as each skin is different and what works for me might not always work for you. But majority of it mostly will!

Please do comment and share if you have tried or heard of any such simple home remedies that can make our lives easier in the most natural ways.

My Kerosene Lantern & My Flies

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person that you are”
– Kurt Cobain

Have you ever seen a kerosene lantern?
Have you noticed it burn?
When you light the wick, it glows with a warmth so strong. The glow attracts hoards of flies and moths like kids around a candy cart; they crowd around, buzzing and dancing as if in an a-cappella. The flame moves like an enchantress at the heart of a party. As the enchantress puts in the hours, the gathering begins to dull down and the insects scatter. A dark blanket covers the enchantress that continues to glow, as if unaware of her lost grip.
The lantern is blamed for being a possessive lover who hides away her spirit, refusing to share her with the rest of the world. This love story is, however, one of melancholy.

So busy entertaining and enjoying, the enchantress never realises that the sooth that envelopes her is her own creation.


The lantern is my physical being. The glowing wick is my spirit. The flies, bees and moths are all the people that have come and gone; the ones that have been around.
What’s the sooth then, I wondered?
It is the only proof that stands witness to all the effort, burning and wear and tear that has gone into the process of being me.

Do I like who I am today? Of course I do!
Am I the perfect version of who I wish to be? Well I am the version that I wanted to be sometime ago. Now my plans have evolved.
I once read somewhere:

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; Remember what you now have was among the things you only hoped for.

-Epicurus

Why is it then that the work that was put in to make me- me, shows itself in the form of a layer that also sometimes suffocates my light?

I’ve always been a people person and yet it burns me out from time to time. For the first time I recently heard myself ask a friend, “Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe Social Media is just Media. There is more to my everyday than what I choose to put out there?” While it did give me a false momentary celebrity air, but it spiralled down on me just as fast. I realised that I was losing touch with myself and becoming irritable. I realised that the line between my primary and secondaries was getting blurred.

To my own surprise I was at ease on realising that I had been pushing myself. The road to this realisation had un-timely outbursts and un-necessary emotional breakdowns for over a week with highly confusing actions, the realisation itself came as a moment of comfort. As if my body was showing signs, like the sooth in the lantern, that I’d burnt myself well and needed some cleaning.

What followed was pretty much me pampering myself to comfort through music, food, sleep and everything else. I spent a couple of days being everything that I needed, un-bothering by the social code of conduct.
Took a day off work with no other plans for the day. Got into bed a little early and stay there a little longer. Stood under the shower and let it all out. Painted my toes an electric purple and spent time moisturising. Didn’t indulge in small talk or conversations that weren’t helping me. Looked at the moon and tried counting the stars till my neck hurt. Ate by myself. Played with the strays. Watched movies in languages that I don’t understand. Played dress up in the middle of the night. Re-read parts of books, just because. Said ‘No’ to polite tasks. Listened to groovy dance music at the crack of dawn. Ran alone. Called up friends whom I’ve not heard from in a while. Laughed until my eyes spilled. Wrapped fairy lights around my body and sat with a tub of my favourite ice cream to watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. re-runs.

And just like that, with a little effort and time, the glow of my lantern has begun to return. The weight of the sooth is lifting and I feel more at ease with myself. Finally able to feel my thoughts flowing and more in tandem with my surroundings. Ready to be with people and feel entertained by the buzz of it all.
It is a small amount of time invested in cleaning which is going to last me quite a while and has also earned me some added comfort. If I had to do the math, I’d say I’m looking at some great returns on investment.

Don’t waste another minute thinking that you’re failing when really all you’re doing is growing.

-Chani Nicholas

Hey!
The last few days for me have been all about thinking, re-thinking and sometimes over analysing. I wouldn’t say it was all dull, grey and dark but there sure have been showers of gloom. It was this period of looking at myself that had me sharing this piece.
If you’ve read it till the end and felt like you understood what I’ve been upto, then maybe you have been there, are headed there or are there right now. Treat it like a cleanse, it makes you dirty and uncomfortable but you only get out better; so hang in there!

My Intermittent Journey

My journey from five meals a day to only eight hour eating window per day.

For a person who runs away from the thought of skipping a meal and considering fasting my biggest nightmare, I was lucky to be introducedto Intermittent Fasting as Intermittent Eating… think po-tay-to po-tah-to!

Let me begin with a brief about Intermittent Fasting (IF)

There are over 3 commonly known variations to this eating schedule

  • 5:2- here you eat normally for five days of the week and the fast for two days with a maximum calorie intake of 500-600 cal.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat- here you fast for 24 hours (zero calorie intake), once or twice a week.
  • 16/8- here your eating window is within 6 to 8 hours and you fast (zero calorie intake) for 16 to 18 hours.

For obvious reasons my choice was the 16/8 method of eating(as I like to call it instead of IF).

Coming to what is IF?

I wouldn’t call it a diet because it doesn’t tell you what to eat. I would rather refer to it as an eating pattern since it only tells you when to eat!
So, did I have to skip a meal? Not necessarily. I just had to time them better, or if it suits me, I could choose to skip a meal.

How did I move from 5 Meals per Day to an 8hr Eating Window?

  • I took some time to notice my existing eating patterns, the average time difference between my dinners to the next morning’s breakfast. It seemed like I was spacing them by 14 hours already, but the issue was that of snacking after. I took it one week at a time.
    The first week I made sure that I wasn’t snacking post dinner
  • The next week I added an extra hour to my fasting period and came to 15/9
  • The third week I glided into the 16/8 schedule

(Since I tend to have migraine attacks due to acidity from skipping or spacing meals too far apart, this gradual glide-in helped enormously)

The Mechanism of IF
The entire schedule of IF is based on Fed State and Fasted State
The Fed State begins when we start to eat and lasts upto 3-5 hours after, because that’s how long our body takes to breakdown and absorb the food. During the Fed State our insulin levels are high, making it difficult to burn fats
The Fasted State begins at the end of Fed State; it is the time when our body is resting and not processing our meals. The fat burning state begins only 8 to 12 hours after our last meal (post-absorption of all the meals).
Since we don’t easily enter the Fasted State with the habit of unconscious and/or mindless snacking, we store fats. But with IF the fats that pack Glycogen get the chance to be converted into Glucose; AKA Fat Burning State, leading to loss of fat without changing what one eats!
(Interesting fact: the human body can survive on zero calorie diet for eight days)

Working out while on IF?

When I first began this eating plan I was regularly running in the mornings. So, I went ahead with my morning routine of returning from a run by 7 am and made it to breakfast by 10am, which when clocked in for eight hours allows me have my last meal by 6:00 pm.
I wondered if I’d have enough energy for longer runs, but I was surprised that I could comfortably do it provided I had a meal after. Eat Dates (1-2 a day), Otherwise I was bound to feel dizzy and drained.

A friend who has been on IF for more than 18 months now, shared that he practices MMA; so high intensity workouts shouldn’t be an issue either.

What can we consume during the 16 hour zero calorie period?

There are three options. Water. Green Tea. Black Coffee (all of this is without any form of sweetner).

No, fresh fruit juices aren’t allowed either. They carry a certain amount of calories, putting the stomach back to work.

What about the dinner parties and events?

Stay liberal, don’t get obsessed- it’s never healthy. I spent time and created a list of priorities and enjoyed a late meal once in a while. But the very next day I was back on the schedule; no slacking there.

Benefits of IF

  • A better and timely eating system, allowing my digestive system some rest
  • Reduced hassle and time spent on meal preparation
  • Burn body fat and build muscle, and improve body composition
  • Lose weight (mostly around my abdomen region)
  • Feeling light and energetic
  • Reduced workout time without putting on weight or feeing lethargic
  • Learned to say No!

Research based facts: IF can help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It also helps keep neuro degenerative diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay and improve brain health.

Who shouldn’t try IF?

  • Anyone who has a history of any form of eating disorder
  • Those who are pregnant and breast feeding
  • Anyone with a compromised immune system
  • Those with thyroid, adrenal and hormonal issues

Hope my experience helps you start your own story if you’re looking at starting with IF. I personally love it because of its simple rules and the convenience it provides (no extra gadgets or supplies needed).

More love and power to all you guys. Hope all of you had a great V-Day and week!

I’m Just Choosing

I wish to fly 
I’m unloading 
I’m not insensitive 
I’m just choosing 


It’s just another week.
It’s been a regular month.
It’s an ordinary weather.
It’s an average list of chores.
It’s the daily hum-drum.
It’s the same faces around.
But,
But I’m making the most of it.
I’m trying to make my state-of-mind extraordinary.
I’m day dreaming travel and researching hostels.
I’m considering my options and being hopeful for the long weekends.
I’m sprinkling plans and I know some are about to stick.
I’m making me.
I’m making myself happy.
I’m being more than just my immediate surroundings.
I wish to try
I’m learning
I’m not incoherent
I’m just choosing
Am I delusional, you may wonder.
I’m childish and dreamy you might say.
I’m unreliable you might believe.
But I’m happy Is all that I care.
I’m trying is all I know.
I’ll get my tickets stamped, is all that I need to believe.
Sure you wish I saw the reality that you see
I understand that you are uncomfortable with my antiques
You do genuinely try to make me normal
Everyone’s wishful for me to adhere and conform
But I’ve seen people cry under the happy masks
I’ve heard the gloomy silence behind your crackling laughter
I’ve felt the burden of the unshed tears
And I know they weigh me down
I wish to fly
I’m unloading
I’m not insensitive
I’m just choosing

Responsible Travel

For a few days or a good portion of your lifetime, if you’re spending time somewhere, then at that point in your life that place is Home!
And taking responsibility for your home is only fair.

Before we dive into this one, I thought I should ask you a few quick questions-
1. Do you like to travel?
2. Have you ever moved around (for work or leisure, for short or long term)?
3. Do you think the world is a beautiful place, full of surprises?
4. Do you take responsibility for your surroundings?

Now that you know your answers, lets talk about the most amazing teacher that the universe has offered us and how we can begin or continue to show it our utmost respect!
The chance to experience life from different perspectives teaches us things that most libraries fail to. To witness cultures different from ones own, makes us more accepting than any diploma. A rendezvous with a heterogenous crowd is sometimes all the spiritual awakening needed.

As promised to myself earlier, I asked for insights and help from people around me and I’ve had the most absorbing learning experience. To hear someone passionately talk about things close to their heart rubs off a certain sense of high even on its audience and that’s exactly how I felt. Be it scaling mountains, finding off-beat locations, swimming around the corals or creating experiences… it has been intoxicating.
While my three points of contact had me giddy with the information and the imageries they painted, I’ve tried to summarise and make a list of things that they couldn’t stress enough and are simple to practice.

I got in touch with each one of them individually and they have re-affirmed my approach towards travel and tourism. To me, travel is when I visit a place and let the place submerge me into itself, from the folks to the lores, its economy and cuisines, all of it. Travel lacks the fear of missing out, which for me is usually associated with tourism; the need to finish my checklist of places-to-visit, not necessarily taking the chance to truly enjoy it. (1)

Before I start with their insights, let me list the 7 outdoor ethics that the world should live by.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
3. Dispose of waste property
4. Leave what you find
5. Minimize campfire impacts
6. Respect wildlife
7. Be considerate of other visitors
These pointers form the framework of responsibility and remain universal. These are further explained in detail by Leave No Trace; an organisation that is working towards sustaining the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy the nature responsibly.

Moving on, here are the super obvious seeming things that most of us could easily over look while planning the next getaway, but should not. Things that were suggested by these super amazing travellers, and I know I’m going to adopt as a practice in my travels and life in general.
1. Research. Research. Research. Know the rules and laws of the land that you’re visiting. Acquaint yourself with their culture and practices so as to not offend anyone. Know the climatic swings and the culture sensitive points.
2. Travel Insurance. Its always better to be safe and protected.
3. Maps! Network and connectivity over mobile data could restrict you from exploring isolated spaces, but these will keep you from being lost.
4. Eat, Stay and Shop Local. The best way to support a community and enjoy it to the fullest is by being a part of it.
5. Do Not Feed Wild Animals
6. Carry your waste with you. If you cannot find a waste bin/basket on-site, then carry it with you until you reach one; plastic, cigarette buds, food leftovers, packaging wastes, etc.
7. Bring Reusable Bags. They are always handy and do not occupy space in your luggage.
8. Skip Straws and Single Use Plastic Water bottles. Use a water purifying system as and when possible.
9. DO NOT LITTER. Even if the locals do, and should goes without reason.
10. Lights Out. Everytime you leave a premise make sure to switch the lights off and other appliances, and try to use electricity mindfully.
11. Use Public Transport or Carpool. You never know which interesting story you might hear or become a part of!
12. Conserve Water.

TRAVEL FUN FACTS…. because, what better way to prove the above point!
Driving without your headlights on is illegal in Denmark, even during the day time.
It is illegal to spit in Barcelona.
Eating during Ramadan when in UAE is illegal.
You cannot frown in Milan.

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Much love and power to Mountaineerz, Wandermile and The Lume Weaver for being my points of contact, source of information and sharing their insights.

The picture is by Prakritee Sandilya, thank you love!!

IKIGAI And Ageing

Ikigai= Life + To Be Worthwhile
“A healthy mind in a healthy body”

With a growing fascination towards healthier living and being forever youthful, a trend that is fast spreading from the East to the rest of the world, IKIGAI- a Japanese concept/ way of living.

The word IKIGAI is made by combining two Japanese words: Life + To Be Worthwhile. The latter can be further split into Armour + Beautiful/ Elegant. This, for me, is the best way to understand the essence of a word that means ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’. It is a process that helps one find their ‘Reason For Being’.

The Japanese are known for many things, some of them being their discipline, healthy habits and their highest number of centenarians (1). The island of Okinawa is famous for its longevity. And this longevity is usually attributed to Ikigai, along with a few other factors:

  • Healthful Diet & The 80% Rule (2)
  • Simple Life In The Outdoors
  • Green Tea & Warm Water
  • Subtropical Climate

Surprisingly, the Japanese language doesn’t have a word that directly translates to the word ‘retirement’, can you imagine that? Which, to me, seems to have something to do with ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’, or so, I would like to believe!

A commonly known and addressed factor leading to ageing is stress. Yes, STRESS! We experience it in varied proportions each day.  So do the people of Okinawa. Then how is it that we show signs of ageing while they continue to glow, you wonder? Well, I did! So, to develop a perspective and with hope to find some mystical secret, I started reading about Ikigai, and here’s what I could understand.

They believe that we age in two ways: physically and mentally. And to better handle these signs, they have a set of practices. But before getting to prevention,they like to remain Mindful against stress. Here are a few steps on how:

  • By noticing responses, even if they are conditioned by habit. Its not about over analysing, its just about knowing how we react in various situations and why
  • By connecting with the here and now and avoiding presuming and assuming the cause and effect of things that may or may not happen. This helps in managing thoughts that have the potential of spiralling out of control and further elevating our stress levels
  • By avoiding working on autopilot mode. People who work on autopilot also tend to be mindless about some tasks such as an individual eating/ snacking while watching the television or talking on the phone usually is not sure of what and how many portions has he consumed.

The most effective way to avoid physical ageing is by keeping active at all ages and times. The Japanese are believers of minimalism, so to be involved in mild physical activities on an everyday basis is what keeps them moving at an age when the world retires. Our sedentary lifestyles, that include sitting for the better part of the day, are also considered responsible for physical ageing. There are a few simple lifestyle changes that could help all of us:

  1. Take the steps as often as possible instead of escalating and elevating your way up.
  2. Walk to your colleague’s desk once in a while instead on using the intercom.
  3. Walk the short distances for completing your chores.
  4. Actively participate in social and community activities to reduce screen time on a daily basis.
  5. Use pen and paper every once in a while instead of typing and swiping. This will help your fingers maintain their dexterity.
  6. Stay hydrated. Regularly consume water (preferably warm) by sitting down instead of standing. Sometimes the brain perceives thirst as hunger and sends faulty signals.
  7. Replace the junk intake with fruits and other healthier alternatives. (3)
  8. Get the right amount of rest; seven to eight hours is ideal. (4)
  9. Interact with kids and spend time with pets; they almost always make you move around.
  10. Be Mindful! Be aware of your daily routine in order to convert counter productive habits into fun activities.

However, not all signs of physical stress lead to physical ageing. This is because stress is psychosomatic (5) in nature. So basically, mental ageing also shows through physical signs of ageing? (double doomed!)

It is a known fact in the nervous system student community that in our 20s our neurons begin to age. While this happens at an alarmingly slow rate, our sedentary and high stress lifestyles play catalysts in this process. The process of mental ageing cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down through mental workouts.

Mental workouts are as important as physical ones. While it could sound intimidating, the neural connections can be activated and put to work by making simple habits.

  1. Regularly present your brain with new information. It could be by changing the genre of books or the school of music that you read.
  2. Learn a new language. Practice a different accent.
  3. Change the hand with which you perform simple mundane tasks, such as brushing your teeth, pulling out a hanger, turning knobs, etc.
  4. Solve puzzles and riddles. Play mind-benders.
  5. Learn how to use a new gadget.
  6. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people from different social, historical and cultural groups.

Just experiencing new situations can work as an anti-ageing strategy for the mind. And a positive outlook towards it all will generate better mental benefits.

“A healthy mind in a healthy body”
to me now seems like the Ikiagi way of healthy ageing  

*Picture credits to the very talented photographer Francisco Rosário and my friend Pei. They were graceful in sending me a fitting picture.

** This article is based on my knowledge and understanding of the concept thus far. Any form of suggestions, corrections and conversations are welcome!

Note:
1: People who live upto 100 years of age and above
2: To eat only to the point where you start to feel full and not until you feel stuffed
3: Refer to http://www.thehazywhisperer.com/2018/10/10/sugaring-it-down/ for some tips on healthy eating.
4: During sleep our body produces an important antioxidant called melatonin which helps in immunity system strengthening, delayed onset of Alzheimer’s, fighting heart diseases, protection against cancer, etc.
Post 30 years the melatonin production naturally reduces but can be improved by consuming a balanced diet, soaking moderate amount of sunlight regularly, avoiding alcohol.
5: A mental situation that manifests through physical signs such as acne, indigestion and ulcers.

The First Run

You haven’t run in a month. Do your best. Remember this isn’t your only chance but this IS your only body. So, be a bit considerate.’

Heart racing at an exorbitant rate, a parched mouth and eyes burning due to the invasion of sweat.

A kilometre short of the finish line, my mind began to make notes of everything that I had to share.

Today,when I woke up before sunrise and got dressed for the long awaited event (read as: very very long awaited), I consolingly told myself, ‘You haven’t run in a month. Your body has been out of touch for way too long. Do your best. Remember this isn’t your only chance but this IS your only body. So, be a bit considerate.’

With acceptance in mind I went ahead and followed all the procedure before the finish line. Before the start mark I took a deep breath and told myself to remember to be at a comfortable pace. Slowly but steadily kilometres passed. I over took a few co-runners and was overtaken by a few. And the longer I ran, the more I wanted to run. After every checkpoint, I wanted to see if I could continue running until the next.

Just like the climax scene of most movies, things started to go on in a slow motion in my tenth kilometre. I could see the finish arch. There was a reinstalled sense of confidence and it felt like a secret packet of energy had just been released in me because my steps were more rapid than the last few kilometres.Oddly enough, while everything was getting faster, my thoughts seemed to begetting clearer and time seemed to be passing slower.

And in the final 1000 meters I started to make a list. A list of things that I had done right, things I was going to get better at and things that I’m going to keep doing.

  1. Wearing a pair of shoes that my feet were familiar with rather than new ones seemed like a great advise I’d implemented.The comfort of wearing the right shoes was an added support
  2. My first stop was because my shoes suddenly felt too tight. I’d forgotten to factor in the swelling up of my feet once they were strained
  3. I lasted more than I expected because I made sure to slow down every time I felt out of breath or exhausted
  4. To stop running and just walk for a bit seemed enticing, but I remembered that it would also make me lose my momentum. So I reduced my pace instead
  5. To avoid an excessive raise in body temperature,I shifted to breathing with my mouth as soon as I felt hot and continued the same.
  6. On seeing my fellow runners fidget with their sponsored t-shirts, I was glad to have remembered to wear an old t-shirt under the new one
  7. Halfway through I realised I should have carried my own Gatorade. While there were multiple refreshment pit stops, your body isn’t conditioned to get dehydrated based on the proximity to a re-hydration supply
  8. ‘Short-term goals’: That was my constant mantra.I was constantly setting short distance and visible goals based on landmarks or objects (not once on the basis of time or distance). Only after crossing the current short distance goal, would I pick the next one. Yes, I was tricking my brain into regularly releasing dopamine along with the feel-good endorphin. But I didn’t want my brain to feel cheated, so I only set the next goal after I had put the current goal behind myself (literally)
  9. Short steps reduced the load on my knees and also improved the frequency of my steps
  10. A regular and longer arm swing improved my momentum at the times when I wanted to be a tortoise. Thanks to stationary, arm swing exercises that we were asked todo, by a marathoner, with 1kg of weight in each hand
  11. During the last few minutes, when I was only a few hundred meters away from the end, I knew I’d superseded my expectations. Being the fickle person I am, I wanted more than I had and knew I could have had more only if I’d been more consistent
  12. SMILE!I remembered that I could release for feel good hormone by smiling and I did that. As the run got more taxing I started smiling larger- as was suggested tome
  13. The last 200 meters was a single sprint. I’m not sure of the how I could do it butI know why I did it. Maybe because I was so excited to have completed it!

WhileI sit washed, in the comfort of a sofa while writing this, I have mixed thoughts about having have had enjoyed every second of the salty water running down and entering my mouth when I first got into a shower. It was strangely exhilarating.

(With all things said and done, I feel gratitude towards an inspiring friend who started off as being my mentor 10 months ago. He has always shown faith and supported me despite my inconsistencies. Thank you!)