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The Importance Of Practicing Psychological And Emotional Hygiene In Our Lives

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Around a thousand years ago, human beings started practising intense physical hygiene, which eventually led to the prevention of many diseases and infection; this dramatically increased life expectancy. We all are aware and conscious about our hygiene. Since a very young age, we have been taught about the discipline needed to maintain personal hygiene in order to avoid infection and diseases.

We are concerned about our physical hygiene a lot, which is important to prevent infectious diseases. Everybody talks about physical hygiene, but do we ever consider emotional hygiene?

Health is defined as ‘physical, mental and social well-being of a person’, according to the World Health Organisation. We rigorously practice physical hygiene but many a times, do not consider or entirely ignore emotional hygiene, which has psychological aspects. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body. The health of mind comes from the ability to deal with stress, anxiety and negative feelings efficiently.

There may be certain experiences and emotions that may come unexpectedly into our lives, sometimes leaving us insecure, lonely and sad. These may be due to rejection, disappointment, loneliness, grief, guilt and so on. These are all normal human emotions.

People feel deeply hurt and psychologically wounded under these conditions, yet, do not try to seek a solution and carry on with the pain for a very long time. There are scientifically-proven methods to alleviate such psychological pain and emotional bleeding.

We underestimate the emotional and psychological pain and its influence on our body and mind. We sustain psychological wounds longer than the physical injuries, which also have a deep impact on our overall mental well-being. People even refrain from sharing their feelings with others and suffer in silence, in fear of rejection and neglect from society, which adds to the problem.

Depression

Over 264 million people from all ages throughout the world of suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world and also a major reason for global diseases. Women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

Loneliness

Chronic loneliness is deadly because it increases chances of death by 29%. Studies have shown that prolonged feelings of loneliness and other negative emotions may lead to depression, alcoholism, cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments. It may also lead to a weakened immune system and distorted perceptions. Loneliness is worse than obesity for our health. Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Failure

Sometimes, emotions are so overwhelming and unpleasant that they become unbearable. Failure is one such emotion, but the real definition of failure exists within our own perception. For one person, failure might be one thing, while for the other, it would be something else This depends on our own experiences, demands and desires in life.

Once we are convinced by our own minds that we cannot do a certain thing, it becomes really difficult to change that self-made opinion. On the other hand, having self-confidence boosts up our morale and increases our will power as well as efficiency to achieve goals.

Hence, one must fight the feeling of perceived failure, helplessness, loneliness and other negative emotions and thoughts. Our mind and feelings are significantly connected. While negative self-talk may lead to low self-esteem and poor performance, positive self-talk may lead to higher self-esteem and wonderful self-improvement.

Our minds are beautiful tools. We can create or destroy feelings, thoughts, and indirectly, actions through our thought process, which again, play a significant role in maintaining emotions and psychological well-being.

The Habit of Ruminating Negative Thoughts

Due to underestimation of emotional hygiene and lack of communication, we dig deeper into our negative feelings and indulge in overthinking when dealing with an emotional disturbance. This is similar to digging deeper into our psychological wounds.

This is called the habit of ruminating or repeating painful emotional experience by recalling them again and again, which deteriorates peace of mind, disturbs psychological health and hinders emotional hygiene.

Ruminating is a breakable habit; sometimes we feel that these thoughts are uncontrollable, but studies suggest that even a two-minute break from such ruminating negative thoughts is effective to break the cycle of negative thoughts, by focusing and concentrating on other things.

Emotional Hygiene Awareness And Its Significance

Emotional health is a significant aspect and has the potential to increase life expectancy and quality of life, as a large proportion of people in the world suffer from some emotional disturbance which, may lead to chronic ailments.

Change Response to Negative Thoughts

  1. It is necessary to change response to negative thoughts such as loneliness, failure, rejection or helplessness.
  2. One must protect themselves from psychological wounds and for them to be able to negatively affect our self-esteem.
  3. One must battle negative thoughts and avoid ruminating negative experiences. It has the potential to not just heal from psychological wounds, but also develop the capability to build emotional resilience.

Being aware of our emotions and their impact on our health and productivity can help us understand that we have the ability to control them to a significant degree. We can instrumentalise them to not just restore our emotional and psychological health, but also thrive.

There is significant scope to make people aware of the perks of practising emotional hygiene and psychological health. It has the potential to increase life expectancy of human beings and lead to an improved quality of life.

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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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