Project Socha Helps Address Mental Self-Care Issues Through Their Workshops
- IWB Post
- December 5, 2018
Mental self-care is a topic that is not discussed as much as it should be and you may feel that mental illness is something far away from you, but it’s more common than you think. Everyone feels depressed, anxious or down from time to time, but not many people are aware and consciously address these emotional and mental struggles.
To make people aware of these issues and to guide them towards a better life, B.S. Bhuveneswari, Harvey Harrison, and Kritivardhan Joshi took on the initiative of handling them through Project Socha.
Project Socha is a four-hour workshop conducted for anybody who seeks to improve and understand their mental self-care. The idea behind the workshop is for people to accept their vulnerabilities, which in turn makes them stronger. Through varied activities, the workshop hopes to encourage people to channelise their emotions and thoughts into art, understand the need for dialogue, recognise empathy as essential to one’s mental health, and ultimately adopt a happier outlook to life.
In a conversation with IWB, the creative heads share with us the importance of mental self-care and how its foundation should be laid in the childhood.
Excerpts from the interview with the team:
What led to the conception of Project Socha?
Once Harvey and I (Bhuveneswari) were talking about how, throughout our lives, we are taught that vulnerability is a bad thing and is seen as a sign of weakness. The conversation went on to how, as a generation, we have lost the simple pleasures of our childhood like writing letters, painting or just being outright honest about how we feel. So we thought, why not put them all together and curate a fun self-care workshop.
Since our college days, the three of us had always wanted to do something that helps people become more sensitive as individuals and practice altruism. So, the first thing we really hoped for was to create a safe space that looks beyond privilege, where anyone and everyone can pour their heart out and embrace what makes them human. We are definitely not professionals but what does help us understand people is the fact that we are as imperfect as them. That’s how project Socha was conceptualised.
What is mental self-care and what distracts us from it?
Mental well-being requires your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour to be in sync. This includes something as basic as letting yourself feel the variety of emotions that you feel without feeling the need to suppress them or running away from them. Pampering your mind with positive thoughts, relaxation, and refreshing thoughts in times of stress or negativity is self-care.
The prime reason we have been distracted from taking care of our mental health is that throughout our lives, especially in countries like India, we are almost ignorant about it. Probably because the effect isn’t as tangible as it is with physical sickness, we are taught to ignore it as just another “phase” that will go away.
There is a huge taboo around the subject which also has a lot to do with our portrayal of mentally ill people in literature, movies and other forms of art. We are always told that mentally ill people are supposed to be crazy, running around and harming people while doing obnoxious things, whereas, in reality, it could be you and me dealing with issues like depression, or low self-esteem. We need to create more conversations around this topic to enable people to acknowledge and recognise this mere fact as that’s the beginning of any massive change.
How do we start practising emotional self-care?
In our workshop, we do simple activities that enable you to ask the right questions and embrace yourself. The whole idea behind it is to make emotional self-care something that’s easily doable in our daily lives despite how busy our lifestyles might be. It is important to prioritise it and practise it every single day, even if that means a simple act of maintaining a journal as an outlet for your daily emotions.
How, in your opinion, can a workplace support and contribute to the practice of mental self-care? What are your thoughts on mental health leaves?
It is extremely important for workplaces to have an emotional support system and many big corporate houses have finally launched initiatives for the same. It’s important to understand that emotional well-being can have a massive impact on an individual’s performance. More than anything, as human beings, it’s our responsibility to reach out and make the public spaces we share a little more safe and sensitive, one day at a time.
As far as mental health care leaves are concerned, it’s important to diagnose the illness before commenting on the same. If a break/leave is what suits the individual best, then there is no reason why one should be denied the same.
The foundation of mental self-care should be laid in childhood. How can we groom children to be aware of their emotional health?
Honestly speaking, parents need to understand a simple fact that when you give birth to a child, you’re giving birth to an individual who will grow up to be someone with individual emotions, feelings, and beliefs. This means you should be ready to take on that kind of responsibility as well. Giving birth to a child shouldn’t be a mere fact of extending your lineage but the readiness to take on the responsibility to create a responsible, empathetic, and sensible human being.
The moment this is accepted, parents will become more friendly and approachable to their children and let them feel their emotions. Don’t beat them up if they cry, don’t instill fear to make them work or study and please don’t shut them down when they are trying to express. While motivating your child, give them positive incentives than using negative incentives like fear or terror. If it is otherwise, you’re raising unhealthy suppressed angst-filled individuals which does more harm than good. Always be empathetic and compassionate to them.
The stories of the #MeToo movement are leaving many mental scars. What mental self-care tips would you give to women who are exposed to sexual harassment stories every minute on their screens?
I (Bhuveneswari) can completely relate to this as an individual. The first week when the #MeToo movement began, as much as I was happy that women are able to finally come out and share their stories of abuse, it really triggered a lot of memories in my head. This includes memories of assault that I had endured myself in my past. The entire week I shut myself down as I was unable to cope with it. As much as I wanted to be there for people, I eventually understood that I needed to prioritise my mental health over everything else. I know for a fact that it isn’t easy talking about it since some people can be extremely insensitive in their response but always remember that even if one person feels empowered in this process, it’s worth the drill.
I eventually understood that rather than running away from my story, I should use it as a tool to understand what people go through and how I can reach out to them. This process can be overwhelming but you’ll be shocked to see the number of people you will be able to help out in this process. And that makes it worth it. Having said that, if it triggers and affects your state of being, please shut yourself away from it as you do not deserve to go through and relive the trauma in your thoughts.
Can you discuss the stigma around crying and how it is an important part of mental self-care.
Any kind of emotion, especially crying, is important. It’s important to feel the emotions and vent it out. The more you suppress it, the more you are prone to breakdowns because you let it all build in or even worse, take it out on someone else or hurt yourself.
Crying makes you vulnerable but if you’d ask us, it’s the best thing that there is. It’s your most authentic self, embrace it. You cry when you feel overwhelmed and if any action has enough power to instill that feeling in you, why not embrace it and what’s the harm in being open about it? After all, it’s the most human thing that there is.
Share some resources through which we can practise mental self-care.
Simple acts of mental self-care include meditation, working out, gardening, maintaining a journal, dancing, singing and well, anything that makes you feel good. It’s not a one-size-fits-all case and hence, you need to try it all, to finally know what suits you the best.
Project Socha will try and conduct a variety of interactive activities, so if nothing else, you can always drop in and explore yourself and know what you like while you say hello to your authentic self.
Give some tips on how we can help a person battling depression with mental self-care.
Honestly, the only thing we could suggest in a case like this is to seek professional help. Let’s acknowledge that we have mental health professionals for a reason. We won’t be able to cure a physical illness by prescribing random medicines because we are not equipped enough for it, it’s the same with mental illness.
The first edition of the workshop will be held in Mumbai on December 15, 2018, at Redbricks office, Kaledonia, Andheri (East) from 4 PM to 8 PM. You can register yourself here- https://goo.gl/forms/8mtgV7gRp3gGALJC3