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This New Book Talks About Things You Can Do To Lead A Balanced Life

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Driven by prohibitive demands of the modern day, the youth has a cavalcade of hardships following them like a plague; just to name a few – loneliness, desire to be popular, peer pressure, crushing demands of being in perfect shape, living up to lofty definitions of ‘achievement’, relationship woes and the never ending race to the finish line. The repercussions of these impetrations is anybody’s guess; depression, disease, disharmony.

From the time children are enrolled in school to the day they are ready to face the world, they are flogged by expectations that may not necessarily be their area of competence or predisposition. Some coalesce with the drudgery out of no choice and some just fall by the wayside, exhausted. It’s common knowledge that every hour a student commits suicide in India. Adding to this melancholy is the statistic by WHO – 4.5% of the Indian population is clinically depressed and 36% are likely to be depressed at least once in their life. The figures are staggering. So what is the future of our youth today? How do they handle these unrealistic demands?

What should be upheld in the highest esteem – value based living, joyful existence, optimism, contentment, love or should it be marks, salary, possession, popularity and pressured living? Or is there any scope of having good mix of both? And how do you decide what is a good mix? These broad based dictum, if followed in earnest, may help you attain the much desired balance in your life.

  1. Moderation: Avoiding extremes and embracing moderation can bring equanimity and balance in ones life. Extremities harm YOU first, the world comes later – this is one of the highways to acquiring diseases like hyper tension and BP later in life. Save yourself from the ghosts of extremism and you will see that things work better in a tranquil composure. Be like deep waters; calm and non-threatening and yet people are wary of its strength.
  2. Introspect: Every change begins from you. All you have to do is find the seed within you that makes unhappiness germinate. This does not mean that other people around you don’t need a change, but that’s not your responsibility or concern. The choice is theirs – do they indirectly summon a regretful unhappy life with unfulfilled expectations or is their life brimming with positivity. Everyone deserves a good life but to see it happen, it is imperative to learn the art of looking inward. You’ll be surprised at the endowment of intuition and wisdom that comes as innate qualities in every human being; all you have to do is learn to trust your system completely. When you know what is right for you, don’t chose the option that screams convenience.
  3. Listen to your gentle inner voice: Just like your body talks to you, so does your internal system. A small example of experiencing internal commands is – when you look at a fruit or a vegetable; right from its colour, smell to the texture is assessed inside your system and an output is given about the feasibility of its consumption. Our ancestors in their times as wanderers or anyone, even today, who may have got lost in the woods would tell you that going by their instincts was the wisest thing they did in order to ensure their survival – from which food or leaves to consume to finding their way out of there was driven by these instincts. These instincts are nothing but your internal system guiding you. One hears it loud and clear in situations like these because there are no comfort encumbrances. Comfort is not an encumbrance as far as daily living is concerned, but in situations when one feels the need to connect with oneself, it could act as an encumbrance. It can restrict you from listening to your internal guide – learn to detach the mind from it. In a room where there is loud music playing, it is difficult to hear each other, similarly, when there is so much happening in one’s regular and much too familiar life; one fails to hear the internal commands. Tune into that voice, it’s your messiah.
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment: No action is right or wrong until you see the outcome of it, and it’s far reaching repercussions. Each one of us has to experiment with our experiences and arrive at our conclusions. Let the mind do a thorough analysis of situations and you will realise that, indeed, there are definitive, positive and negative dimensions which you may knowingly or unknowingly gravitate towards. Once you learn to identify what is unprincipled (negative) and what is righteous (positive), you start putting in the correctives; and soon you come into the precincts of wisdom.
  5. Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly: There is a precondition to experimentation; make sure that the choices you make, firstly are guided by your internal system, as mentioned above and secondly determine to give it your best shot. ‘I tried but, it just didn’t happen’, ‘I am plain unlucky’, ‘I never get what my heart desires’, ‘it’s impossible’, ‘I don’t think I can ever succeed at this’ are rationalizations that we use as shields for our lack of effort. You have the sole right to choose but only after putting in adequate efforts in the desired direction.
  6. Human body – the infallible machine: There is a lot to learn from the human body – the adroitness with which the body ingests what is fed to it, it’s proficiency of soaking in only the nutrients and ultimately, the effective disposal off the unwanted, are virtues par excellence. Let the mind emulate this incredible mechanism of ingesting, absorbing and disposing.
  7. Use your own counsel: Our relatives or friends have an opinion about things based on their experiences, but we don’t necessarily have to subscribe to it. It’s important that we experience people or situations ourselves before arriving at conclusions. We often lose out on great opportunities or great friendships because of what people have had to say. Use your own judgement based on your experiences, hear everyone but pick out what you think is valuable information.
  8. Choose your friends wisely: It’s tempting to be popular and be seen with as many number of people as possible, but take a step back because being popular comes with a copious amounts of baggage, you land up being what you are not. It’s Ok to have 4 good friends than have 400 mediocre ones. Quality is definitely important than quantity in this case.
  9. Avoid Peer pressure: The compulsions of contemporary living force the youth to emulate their peers, primarily out of the fear of being made a mockery of. It is the biggest driving factor for the youth today. But always remember, people who have undesirable habits are not necessarily bad people, it’s their habits that are bad. Why replicate the habits, then; replicate the qualities that they bring with them as humans. Moreover make them desire your company because YOU lead them to a better place.
  10. Exercise: There are no shortcuts to exercising your body. The mind and body are uniquely connected, one facilitates the others efficacy. Affix the sensation of ‘pleasure’ to exercise instead of annexing pain to it, think of the high after the workout, think of the clothing that you will fit into, think of the sense of power that you will experience after placating your desire to exercise.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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