10 Mental Health Lessons We Learnt From Therapist Haya Malik

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Mental illnesses are as complex as they are common. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 24 million people in Pakistan are in need of psychiatric assistance. However, due to the lack of knowledge and awareness of mental health issues, many people suffering from various mental disorders are unable to get help. To understand the importance of mental health and learn more about it, we invited our in-house therapist, Haya Malik, to Mashion HQ. From the causes to the cures, she shared a lot of pertinent information on this topic with our readers. If you couldn’t follow the Q&A session, here’s all you need to know.

1. The Right Time To See A Therapist

Deciding to go for therapy is not an easy step. Some hesitate due to the stigma attached around it while others are reluctant to open up to a stranger. Irrespective of what’s stopping you, one thing is clear – seeing a therapist can be very beneficial. Whether you’re going through a rough patch in life or simply need to vent before you make some big decisions, seeking therapy from a professional can be a life-changing experience. According to Haya, “One should start seeing a therapist when they feel really conflicted or don’t understand why things are happening to them the way are happening. Also when you feel like you need to understand yourself better or need to assess certain situations in life, take help from a therapist.”

2.  Overthinking Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly

Overthinking may start off as something small but it usually comes along with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety makes your brain hyper-vigilant, which means it’s always on the lookout for anything it identifies to be dangerous or troublesome. It causes your brain to overthink everything in different ways. As a result, you’re left feeling unwell, both physically and emotionally. Our expert advises not to take this state of mind lightly. She says, “Overthinking is never a good sign. If you feel like overthinking is disrupting your daily routine then I would advise you seek professional help.”

3. Secret To Working Under Pressure

While jobs are a source of income and stability, they can also be a huge source of emotional stress. Even the dreamiest jobs have stressful deadlines, draining tasks and mounting responsibilities. That’s why working under pressure is such a sought-after skill. Since stress is unavoidable in such situations, it’s important to learn how to channel and deal with it in a healthy, productive way. To do so, Haya suggests following a preference-based timetable but prioritise your own well-being over everything. She says, “Organise your tasks on priority bases. See what comes first and what next, which is more important and what can be done later. And if you still find yourself feeling pressurised, it’s really important to acknowledge that you need to take care of yourself amidst a really busy work schedule.”

4. Tricks To Staying Calm

Whether it’s your work routine that’s overwhelming you or the things beyond your control that are stressing you out, the only way to overcome these feelings and not give up is to keep calm. Easier said than done but with certain practices it isn’t impossible. One such practice, which our expert swears by, is mindfulness. She says, “It [mindfulness] is a great way to begin. There’re many apps that you can find on how to be mindful. Start with one minute a day or two minutes a day and eventually you’ll know how to bring calmness into your life.”

5. Getting Over A Childhood Trauma

While your childhood can be a very pleasant and carefree stage in life, for many it can be rather daunting. Be it a tragedy or some sort of abuse, childhood trauma is real and can have lifelong effects. It can be excruciating and hard to cope with even in adulthood. As per our expert, ignoring the trauma and trying to get away from it may not be the best approach. “When childhood experiences still disturb you in your adult life, it’s really important to acknowledge that and process them emotionally. And therapy will be a great place for you to start doing that.”

6. Working On Self-Confidence

Incredible self-confidence is not something a person is born is with. It’s something one learns to build-up over the years. If someone seems extremely confident, it’s because they’ve worked on it for years. Rejection, criticism and unkind comments from others can deflate our self-confidence in an instant. But often it’s our inner critic that convinces us we’re not good enough. To improve your self-confidence, Haya suggests analysing your inner critic. She says, “You need to assess the language you speak to yourself in. Is it negative, positive, critical or are you being harsh to yourself? Because it could be that you’re struggling with a negative belief system.”

7. Dealing With Unpredictable Situations

Life is nothing short of a roller coaster ride. It’s full of surprises and unexpected turns; you never get a warning before something goes wrong. Be it missing a flight last minute, losing a job or something as serious as getting ill, an unforeseen event can get to the best of us. According to our expert, “The best way to go about it is to have an open mindset. Whatever comes your way, you’ll be able to deal with as long as you have an open mind.”

8. Role Of Nutrition And Lifestyle In Coping With Anxiety And Stress

Lifestyle changes may seem simple but they’re powerful tools in treating depression and anxiety. In fact, therapists often consider lifestyle habits to treat the condition. Several exercises, such as yoga and meditation, are known to have a calming effect on the mind as well as body. Haya believes that certain nutritional and lifestyle changes can be a step forward in reducing anxiety. “Lifestyle choices can definitely help you ease your anxiety. Daily workouts will elevate your mood and release endorphins. At the same time, eating healthy will also help you, because when you feel good from the inside, it impacts your mood.”

9. Overcoming Fear

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions out there. It has a strong effect on your mind and your body. It’s human nature to run away from your fears and avoid those emotions, but you cannot – and should not – hide from them forever. Once you face your fears, they start losing their power over you. Our expert gives us a great trick to overcome fears. She says, “Visualise exactly what your fear is and imagine yourself in that situation. Imagine the best possible version of yourself overcoming that fear and then get right into it and overcome it.”

10. Schizophrenia Needs Professional Help

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that causes delusions, hallucinations, trouble thinking and concentrating and lack of motivation. The causes are still unknown but it can sometimes run in families or be triggered due to certain life events. Even though it’s a complex illness, most of its symptoms can improve with treatment. According to Haya, schizophrenia cannot be treated without professional help. She says, “If you or anybody else is going through schizophrenia, please consult a psychiatrist as soon as possible. A psychiatrist will be able to help you overcome your disorder through medication.”

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