It’s all in your mind

Anjali Jhangiani
Sunday, 24 June 2018

Dr Aditi Govitrikar wants people to be happy and her YouTube channel Lighthouse will show them the way

Contrary to the popular notion that ‘life is short’, Dr Aditi Govitrikar, in a TED talk recently, spoke about how long life is, and how one need not stick to one career, but should be encouraged to try their hand at other careers they want to pursue. She spoke from experience. The model-turned-doctor has started a YouTube channel called Lighthouse to share tips with subscribers on how to lead a healthy and wholesome life. 

“The concept of Lighthouse came to me when I was studying Positive Psychology at Harvard. As part of my research, I was interested in the various dimensions of wellbeing, what motivates us and how we perceive everything. Part of my research also brought me to a shocking revelation that India ranks 133 out of 156 in the worldwide happiness index quotient. I have taken it upon myself to help as many people as I can, and turnaround our present statistics and make the world a happier, healthier place to live in,” says Govitrikar adding that she plans to focus on eight elements — social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial and nutritional. 

“I guess I hadn’t had enough with just studying about the human body that I wanted to master the human mind as well,” smiles Govitrikar. She feels that it is exhausting for people to deal with daily stress, peer pressure and so we tend to live unfulfilled lives. Mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing, and she is taking it on herself to spread awareness and offer help. “As a counsellor, I use tools to handhold someone to overcome a situation or a tough phase that they are going through. I also empower someone who wants to move to the next level in their life,” she says. 

Working in the entertainment industry, Govitrikar has been exposed to the immense pressure celebrities have to deal with, which often goes unnoticed. The public is made aware about their work and personal lives, which seems glamorous but we are often left in the dark about their struggles. This is why the suicide of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and bag designer Kate Spade left us in shock. “When a public figure is forced to go to such extreme measures, it just tells us more about our society and the world we live in. Despite seeming to have it all, they are still led to believe that they are all alone in their battle against mental illness and depression, or perhaps they don’t have anyone to share their feelings with,” says she, adding that the suicides of celebrities obviously have a negative impact on fans who are struggling with mental issues of their own, but it also highlights the fact that no one is immune to this and mental wellbeing is a major cause for concern in today’s world. “Whether one is an actor or a politician, at the end of the day, mental wellbeing is important for everyone. It is time to listen, speak up and reach out,” she says. 

Cyber bullying, intolerance on social media where it is a complete state of confusion with everyone talking and no one listening, can be a cause for higher levels of stress among internet users. Govitrikar says, “We don’t understand how absorbed we get into our gadgets because we feel it makes our lives simpler. But weren’t we living simpler lives before this epoch of technology? Everyone on social media is out to impress, trying to outdo one another, pretending to be someone they’re not, and ultimately they find themselves in a state of disappointment, hopelessness and feelings of utter helplessness,” says she, adding, “Focus on yourself because at the end of the day, no number of social media likes or shares will be enough to help you through your tough times. Your real connections and passions will guide you to the shores of contentment and happiness.”

In spite of spreading awareness about mental issues through the print media, films, television etc, there is still much stigma attached to mental problems. “The stigma is at an all-time high despite many public figures speaking about these issues. While we see everything and know quite a lot, we believe if we acknowledge the fact that we need help, the world would look at us differently. And while we are all there to help others, we don’t wish to seek help for ourselves because ‘log kya kahenge’. I have clients who request me to make sure they don’t bump into anyone when they come for a session,” she says. 

Realistically, there’s no way to avoid stress in a time when everyone’s working too much for too little. Though stress is devastating to the body and mind, people don’t know how to protect themselves from it. “Work life takes away almost 70-80 per cent of an average individual’s time on a daily basis. Where is the time to rest, exercise, invest or socialise or most importantly, just relax? Negligence towards these facets of life increases the levels of stress because a human mind needs recreational activities as much as it needs physical movement and social connections,” says she. 

Govitrikar advises reducing stress with a 15-20 minute brisk walk early in the morning, maintaining a balanced diet throughout the day and spending 10 minutes of peace and quiet away from technological distractions to refresh your mind. “It is crucial to start today and not put it off saying ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘When I take a vacation’,” she says.

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