Can having an alter ego help reveal your true self?

ego

British actor Rowan Atkinson was born with a stutter. Shy as a child, he was constantly bullied at school because of his speech impediment. Interestingly though, whenever Atkinson went on stage, he was able to take on a new persona. He could immerse himself into the role of his character and his stuttering would magically disappear. In an interview with the Time magazine, he is known to have said, “I find when I play a character other than myself, the stammering disappears. That may have been some of the inspiration for pursuing the career I did.”

Beyonce Knowles who is ladylike in her personal life wanted to showcase a different persona of herself on stage. She hence created Sasha Fierce who was sensual, bold, and aggressive. In an interview, Beyonce revealed that Sasha was born during the making of her hit single Crazy in Love. Strictly a stage persona, Sasha helped Knowles experience a different version of herself. However, as Beyonce herself is known to have said, “I’m not like her in real life at all. I’m not flirtatious and super-confident and fearless like her.”

Like Knowles and Atkinson, several successful people—be it in the field of entertainment or sports or business—are known to have consciously created alter egos. For instance, according to the author Walter Isaacson, the persona of Steve Jobs as Apple’s founder was nothing like the persona of Steve Jobs when around his family. And it is not just the top performers—we too have different facets to our personality. Only, we seldom take note of them and create our own alter egos. For instance, our persona when we’re alone or with family members is often different from our persona when around friends or at our workplace.

So, why create an alter ego? Why consciously magnify certain personality traits? Performance advisor Todd Herman, the author of The Alter Ego Effect, gives us a compelling reason. In his podcast, he explains: “Alter egos help us get out of our own way. Many a time, we carry within us insecurities and judgements that make us play it small in life. Most of us are born to be a superman or superwomen but we deliberately take on the role of Clark Kent so that we’d fit in with society, and not get ostracised.” So essentially, his theory is that by taking preferred traits from our own personality, creating an avatar with them, and distancing ourselves from it, we’d no longer worry about being judged or criticised. We’d thereby lose our inhibitions and come one step closer to experience our true selves.

Here’s the catch, though—often, the term alter ego is misunderstood. When we think of alter egos, we tend to think of the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or remember the scenes from the movie Fight Club. We often confuse having an alter ego with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Incidentally, the two are very different. While DID is a medical condition wherein the person has no recollection of his multiple personalities, having an alter ego is a conscious choice. It is a mere tool to magnify one or more personality traits which are already present within us. To further clarify, as Herman insists, the alter ego we create for ourselves should bring out the core of who we are. But creating an alter ego to impress or deceive someone, can lead to our own entrapment if we create a second self which is fake and inauthentic, not in sync with who we truly want to be.

I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until, finally, I became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point along the way

Having said that, having an alter ego is not a walk in the park. It can be uncomfortable at first. To consciously shift to our alter ego mode, or to seamlessly transition between our personas every now and then can be downright tedious. However, with enough practice, we’ll eventually outgrow the need for an alter ego someday. After all, several experts concede that our personality traits are not set in stone. They are, instead, surprisingly malleable. And so, over time, we’d automatically begin to embody the traits that were once dormant within us and our alter ego would become a natural part of who we are. Perhaps, it is as the American actor Cary Grant once said: “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until, finally, I became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point along the way.”

So how do we create an alter ego for ourselves? How do we come one step closer to who we truly are? Herman suggests a five-step process:

Personal limiter diagnostic

We often live a limited life owing to our own limited beliefs. And so, before we go on to create an alter ego, it is better to introspect, make a list of our limiting beliefs along with the reason why we’ve nurtured them in the first place. The more honest our evaluation, the more insights we’d get about our own conditioned psyche—the very things we need to overcome by creating an alter ego.

Talent magnifier

Once we have a list of limiters, the next step is to identify key traits which could help us overcome these limiters. This step hence requires us to evaluate our own quirks, talents, and oddities which could help us overcome them, showcase our unique persona and thereby make us who we truly are.

Bringing your alter ego to life

Whilst breathing life into an alter ego, it is better to give it a background story. By giving our avatar a storyline and a context, we develop an emotional connect and hence find it easier to relate to our alter ego better.

Triggers to get into the alter ego mode

To transition into our alter ego, initially, we may require help. This is where props can come in handy. Props can be something we wear, something we hold on to, or something in the external environment. These essentially act as a trigger which gives us a cue to enter the alter ego mode.

Immersion experience

This final step is where we immerse ourselves in the life of the alter ego and experience how it feels. For a moment, we get to live the true version of who we are. Then on, the more we practice going in and out of the alter ego mode, the more we get comfortable with our new avatar and become it ourselves.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) vs Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) vs Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

mindful

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)


With ECT, electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp and a finely controlled electric current is applied while the patient is under general anaesthesia. The current causes a brief seizure in the brain. ECT is one of the fastest ways to relieve symptoms in severely depressed or suicidal patients. It’s also very effective for patients who suffer from mania or several other mental illnesses. ECT is generally used when severe depression is unresponsive to other forms of treatment. It might be used when patients pose a severe threat to themselves or others and it is too dangerous to wait until medications take effect.

During ECT, a patient is given anaesthesia and muscle relaxant. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp and a finely controlled electric current is applied. This current causes a brief seizure in the brain. Patients are carefully monitored during the treatment. The patient awakens minutes later, does not remember the treatment or events surrounding it, and at times may be confused. The confusion typically lasts for only a short period of time.

ECT Pros

  • ECT has proven to be a very effective treatment for those with depression. Some ECT is better for the short-term treatment.
  • This treatment works much rapidly than any others, but consent must be given from the patient or a close relative.

ECT Cons

  • May need maintenance medications following ECTs, not a stand-alone mode of treatment.
  • Although these are much less common, memory loss is still a major concern. Memory loss rarely occurs after the first week of treatment, but the longer the treatment, the more severe the memory loss.
  • Should only be administered to those who have been unsuccessful in all other methods, and are at serious risk of suicide.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

How TMS Works
TMS is a non-invasive, localized treatment conducted using a device that delivers rapidly pulsating and localized magnetic fields that activate a subset of nerve cells in the front part of the brain. While treatment is administered, patients remain awake while sitting in a comfortable reclining chair. A treatment coil is applied to the head and the system generates highly concentrated magnetic field pulses. The treatment is delivered in a series of 20 minutes outpatient treatment, typically administered daily, (5 days per week) for 5 to 6 weeks.

TMS Pros

  • Does not require anaesthesia, non-invasive, well tolerated. An outpatient service and patient continues normal daily routines.
  • Current data demonstrates efficacy in patients who have struggled with medication.
  • May be good alternative for patients who have not responded to ECT in past.
  • No significant memory impairment.

TMS Cons

  • Mild discomfort / Headache (usually dissipates by end of first treatment).

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a neuro-modulatory technique that delivers low-intensity, direct current to cortical areas facilitating or inhibiting spontaneous neuronal activity. In the past ten years, tDCS physiological mechanisms of action have been intensively investigated giving support for the investigation of its applications in clinical neuropsychiatry and rehabilitation. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation is a painless and non-invasive therapy that involves the delivery of mild electrical currents. In effect, these currents help stimulate certain areas of the brain.

How tDCS works
To begin the process of tDCS, two electrodes are placed over the head. Once the machine is fired up, constant low-intensity current (one to two mill amperes) is passed through the said electrodes for 10 to 20 minutes straight. The passing current then results in the modification neuronal activity. To prevent any adverse side effects, experts recommend allotting 48 hours before undergoing another round of tDCS.

tDCS Pros

  • tDCS is relatively painless and is non-invasive, so there is less downtime associated with pain and recovery.
  • tDCS is safe, effective with a low risk of adverse events
  • tDCS treatment can improve cognitive functions/speeding up learning processes.
  • tDCS can be helpful in treating Anxiety, Depression and regulating emotions.

tDCS Cons

  • Slight burning or mild tingling upon the application of electrical current.
  • Headache and nausea can also be expected, especially if the electrode is placed above the mastoid for the stimulation of the vestibular system.

Hopefully, continued research into and refinement of ECT, rTMS and tDCS will settle the subject. In the meantime, if you or a loved one is suffering from intractable mental illness, apart from medications, these three is something worth discussing with your Doctor/Psychiatrists/Mental health professionals.

Mythology of equality

equality

Is there equality in nature or not? The answer is complex. Nature has no favourites and every plant and every animal has to fend for itself to survive. In that sense, there is equality in nature. But, no two plants and no two animals are the same. Each has its own strength and weakness, with exposure to its own set of opportunities and threats. In that sense, there is no equality in nature.

Every human being, like every plant and animal, is unique, with its own set of strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Every human being also has imagination: they can imagine having more strengths and opportunities, and less weaknesses and threats. They can imagine a world where everyone, no matter what their strengths and weaknesses, gets access to the same opportunities, and protection from the same threats. This imagination establishes the ‘mythology of equality’. When the experienced world does not match up to this imagined world, we get upset. We demand changes in the world. We yearn for messiahs. We yearn for revolution.

But, humans can also imagine the world differently. They can imagine themselves as special, better than others, and yearn to dominate over others or be feared or respected by others. This imagination is the ‘mythology of inequality’ that makes one feel privileged. It is what drives people to compete and be successful. It is what prevents people from sharing, for ‘when I have more wealth or knowledge or power, I can dominate’. To dominate feels good.

Wisdom lies in looking beyond the body at the soul and realising that the soul within us and within all those around us is the same.

Publicly today, we all yearn for the mythology of equality. Privately, however, there is a great yearning for the mythology of inequality: the desire to dominate another, control others, be feared or respected, and essentially obeyed. From the mythology of equality comes concepts such as positive discrimination and reservations, to create a fairer and a just world. From the mythology of inequality comes concepts like meritocracy and free market and political correctness that gag conversations and allow for only one kind of conversation.

The mythology of equality informs Abrahamic mythology. Here, all humans are equal before the eyes of God. Inequality is created by the Devil. The mythology of inequality informs Greek mythology. Here, the hero strives hard to be extraordinary, earn a place amongst the gods, or at least in Elysium, the heaven of heroes. But this quest to break free from the mediocre is seen as ‘hubris’ and it angers the gods, and lands many heroes into Tartarus. In the cosmos, everybody needs to know their place, high or low.

Communism is strongly influenced by Abrahamic mythology, hence the mythology of equality. Capitalism is strongly influenced by Greek mythology, and the mythology of inequality, where the ‘best person’ wins and so gets rewarded more by the market. Hindu mythology is a combination of equality and inequality. The soul of all beings is equal, but not the body.

And our body is a combination of our mind, our flesh and the property and privileges we acquire or inherit. In the cycle of rebirths, the soul experiences different bodies and eventually realises that it is temporary and the source of all agony. Wisdom lies in looking beyond the body at the soul and realising that the soul within us and within all those around us is the same. When this happens, we work towards helping everyone around us, strong and weak, find opportunities and avoid threats, knowing fully well that we cannot change their destiny, or alter their desire, or make the world an equal place.

Buddhist mythology does not subscribe to the idea of soul, equality or inequality. It does see desire as the cause of all suffering—desire to dominate in an unequal world as well as desire for an equal world. When we outgrow our desires, we no longer compare and contrast the imagined world with the experienced world. We don’t crave for a change. We simply glide with the change.

The noble act of sacrifice

sacrifice

As I sit here and write this piece on sacrifice, someone somewhere has skipped their meal to feed their hungry child; someone has given up their career to spend more time with their family; someone has forgone their sleep to take care of an ailing family member. Such selfless acts happen all around us all the time and yet, they are anything but trivial. It takes a lot of courage and integrity to sacrifice one’s needs for the benefit of another individual.

This reminds me of a story on sacrifice that stayed with me long after I heard it. It is excerpted from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Here is how it goes. There once lived a poor family–comprising a man, his wife, their son and daughter-in-law–in a village. They didn’t earn much and on most days, they ended up starving. During such a terrible time, a famine struck their village, leaving them more helpless than ever. When he could no longer see his loved ones suffer, the father went in search of food and finally brought home some. As the family was about to eat, they heard a knock on the door.

Outside was a poor traveller who was famished after his journey. The old man invited him in and offered him his portion of the food. When it did not satiate the traveller’s hunger, his wife gave him her food. When that wasn’t enough either, his son offered him his share. Yet, the weary traveller was not full. Then the daughter-in-law too fed him her share. Finally full, the traveller thanked them and left. A moment later, a brilliant light shone on the house. Turns out, it was god who had come to test the family in the disguise of a traveller, and their generosity was rewarded with wealth and happiness.

In the times we live in, most sacrifices are made with the hope of a bigger payback.

The moral of the story is true sacrifice is that which is made out of sheer goodness of the heart even in the face of abject poverty. Another such great sacrifice that comes to mind is that of Jesus Christ. He sacrificed his life for the sins of mankind. Closer home, countless men and women sacrificed their lives so we could enjoy the fruits of independence. Human history is adorned with countless such examples.

One may wonder if such sacrifices are as common in today’s modern world. In the times we live in, most sacrifices are made with the hope of a bigger payback. For instance, some of us might sacrifice our social lives and work day and night to grow professionally. But the drive to do so for a cause that has little to do with our own lives may not come to us so easily.

In a society driven by individualism, sacrifice is indeed harder. The reason for this, one may feel, is a drastic decline in the degree of selflessness in today’s world. Life coach at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Chaitanya Das concurs. Says he, “As the world gets plagued more and more with an individualistic desire of wanting to be at the top–by pushing other people down in the face of cut throat competition–it becomes increasingly difficult for us to see many examples of sacrifice.”

Perhaps, people are more self-involved these days. But the spirit of sacrifice is not totally lost. The daily sacrifices made by the men at the borders of the world help the rest of us sleep in peace. They protect the borders round-the-clock from enemies, in hostile environmental conditions, away from their families, day after day, year after year.

It takes a lot to consciously put aside your comfort for the benefit of another individual, even if it that individual is your child.

And let us not forget the sacrifices made by parents for their children. They put their comfort and convenience aside to create better lives for their children. From small sacrifices like forgoing an official meeting to attend a dance recital to life-altering sacrifices like quitting one’s career to spend time at home, parents do a lot for their little ones. Management professional and mother of a teenager Savitha Shivakumar agrees. She says, “When the children are young, the sacrifices we need to make are many more. Some sacrifices are hard to make. But at the end of the day, when your child turns out happy and healthy, it is all worth it.”

There is no denying that all parents make sacrifices on a daily basis. But that doesn’t make it any easier. It takes a lot to consciously put aside your comfort for the benefit of another individual, even if it that individual is your child. Savitha, for instance, chose to take a long break to raise her child. Even though it set her back several years and made getting back to work twice as hard, she feels it was worth it.

Sacrifice is closely connected to the inner satisfaction one derives from the act. Sometimes, the happiness one derives from these acts is immeasurable, no matter how big or small the deed is. No wonder they say sacrifice changes you as a person. It helps you better appreciate the sacrifices of other people. By expressing gratitude for the sacrifices others have made for our happiness and by consciously repaying them with our own kindness and selflessness, we can begin to change the world.

CLINICAL FEATURES OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

crying

The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.

Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.

But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier ― during pregnancy ― or later — up to a year after birth.

Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary, and they can range from mild to severe.

Postpartum depression signs and symptoms may include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
  • Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby.

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

How can a woman tell if she has postpartum depression?

Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.

How is postpartum depression different from the “baby blues”?

The “baby blues” is a term used to describe the feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that many women experience after having a baby. Babies require a lot of care, so it’s normal for mothers to be worried about, or tired from, providing that care. Baby blues, which affects up to 80 percent of mothers, includes feelings that are somewhat mild, last a week or two, and go away on their own.

With postpartum depression, feelings of sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family. Because of the severity of the symptoms, postpartum depression usually requires treatment. The condition, which occurs in nearly 15 percent of births, may begin shortly before or any time after childbirth, but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery.

Postpartum depression in new fathers

New fathers can experience postpartum depression, too. They may feel sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns ― the same symptoms mothers with postpartum depression experience.

Fathers who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression in fathers ― sometimes called paternal postpartum depression ― can have the same negative effect on partner relationships and child development as postpartum depression in mothers can.

Do pets get depressed?

pets

About a month back, when I returned from a week-long trip, I noticed something very unusual about my dog Lucy’s behaviour. She was cold and distant. I thought she was upset with me for being away from her and that bothered me. Days passed by and I noticed Lucy started isolating herself. She was no longer our ever-cheerful and active pooch, running and jumping around, warmly cuddling up to us. She seemed angry and vengeful most of the times, often snapping, growling and barking at us. This wasn’t our affectionate Lucy, there was something very wrong. Besides, it wasn’t just the change in her behaviour, but also her growing obsessive skin licking habit that bothered us. It was abnormal. I noticed deep wounds around the licked areas.

My dad didn’t waste any more time and got in touch with a vet, who diagnosed her with depression and anxiety. We were alarmed. We had no knowledge that like humans, even pets suffer from depression. The vet told us Lucy’s incessant licking habit, also known as Acral lick granuloma was associated with her depression. He put her immediately on antibiotics. But, we still had to address the underlying cause for her depression—giving her more quality time. I acted upon the vet’s advice of giving Lucy more attention, almost immediately. Be it by taking a day off for her, working out together or including her in family and social gatherings—I did it all to make Lucy feel wanted, loved and cared for.

I also consulted a pet psychologist who advised me to exercise Lucy’s mind that would help in stimulating her mental health and avoid stress. Playing fun games and some challenging brain workouts did help improving her condition. Within two weeks, I witnessed a change in her behaviour. Lucy was back being her original self—the cuddly and jovial little pup, always jumping around the house with joy. We were so happy at her recovery and so much more aware about how to take better care of our furry baby.

However, unlike me, not all pet parents can spare long hours with their canines nor can they spot signs of depression in their pets. They can talk to dog consultants, who can introduce depressed canines to interesting games like sniffing, puzzles and other fun mental games. Exercising a pet’s mind is like pranayama—enhances its overall wellbeing.

When we adopt pets, they become a part of our family and get strongly connected with each member in the house.

Yet in some case depression proves fatal. For instance, when my friend Ankita got a parrot home, it badly affected her cat, Tim. Tim used to be a very loving and playful kitten. He suddenly went into isolation. Neither love nor any medical intervention helped Tim come out of that state and he passed away six months later. According to Dr Lohith, a renowned vet surgeon at Bangalore Pet Hospital, “Sometimes a new animal in the family can make your pet depressed. They easily get upset and disturbed when that love and attention gets divided.” In fact, it’s almost the same when a baby is born in the family that already has an older pet. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the family to prepare the pet prior to the new arrival. If you have a dog, sign on for obedience classes so that it gets well-trained and prepared for the new member. In case of a new-born, gradually try to expose your pets to children’s parks and grounds, take them for evening walk, and teach them to be friendly around kids. Hiring a dog trainer can also be an option in such cases.

However, it’s not always a new addition to the family or an illness that causes depression in pets. It is often seen pets that get separated from a loving home slip into depression and other psychological disorders. When we adopt pets, they become a part of our family and get strongly connected with each member in the house. Any form of separation takes a toll on them emotionally. They undergo terrible emotional trauma due to such separation anxiety. Sharing her own experience with depressed pets, Sanjana Madappa, an adoption counsellor at CUPA, recalls the case of a German Shepherd that started falling ill after his owner left him at the centre. “It looked like he wanted to die. He stopped eating for the first 5-6 days and lost all weight. It was very heart-breaking to see him in that condition and later he was sent to a foster home where he started getting better,” Sanjana said. Sometimes pet parents are forced by circumstances to leave their pets in shelter homes, without realising the consequences. So, if you are planning to put your pets up for adoption or separating them from you, make sure to prepare them well. While seeking a good foster home make sure you introduce the pet to its new family and help them establish a good relationship. Once the pet becomes friendly enough with the new family, you may sometimes try leaving it at their home for a few hours to observe its reactions and behaviour at the new place. You may also consult a pet psychologist to ease in the change for the pet.

Pets are like our own babies—all they need is love, care, attention and some quality time. When we fail to do that, they get depressed or sad just like human do. It takes a great deal of responsibility, awareness and patience to understand their unspoken, unsaid feelings and address their mood swings and changing behaviour. So, look out for the signs of depression, seek professional help and ensure you revive your pets back in no time! Their wellbeing, is after all, our wellbeing too.

The nightmarish lives of refugee children

refugee

Dying from the fear of death seems as aberrant as feeding oneself with the thought of food, rather than food itself. The notion seems outlandish, but it was prevalent in aboriginal societies during the mid-20th century. American physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon called this phenomenon ‘voodoo death’, where people condemned to death by a shaman were so frightened that their bodies started to wither on their own until they died a few days later. Explaining the phenomenon, Cannon wrote in his paper on fatal terror: “It is the fatal power of the imagination working through unmitigated terror.” Today, this fatal power of imagination has become a living nightmare for children around the world. Especially refugee children who have left their homes with their parents to escape endless injustice, but find themselves homeless in a big, scary world.

Siblings Djeneta and Ibadeta are refugees living in Sweden. They are far away from the abomination they suffered in their home state Kosovo, but their battle to survive is far from over. A few years ago, their parents came to Sweden in search of a safe haven, as it was impossible for them to raise their young girls in Kosovo, where they were persecuted by the government on the basis of their ethnicity. The adolescents had already seen more aggression and violence than an average person would witness in a lifetime. When they came to Sweden, the girls were delighted, thinking that bad days were a thing of the past. But soon, the migration board rejected their request for asylum in Sweden and asked them to go back.

When the children heard the news about the deportation, it was a shock greater than anything they had experienced. The mere thought of leaving their peaceful life—with kind neighbours, good friends, and no one to rob them of their fundamental rights—paralysed their bodies. To this day, the siblings are living on tubes, under the care of home nurses and their parents. According to the doctors, the girls have lost their will to live, as they don’t see any reason to go on in a world that is so full of unfairness and cruelty.

There are hundreds of refugee children like Djeneta and Ibadeta who are diagnosed with the same illness—uppgivenhetssyndrom, also known as resignation syndrome. Children afflicted by this syndrome no longer have the will to live. The disorder stems from the trauma of deportation to their homeland, which is either a theatre of war, a terrorist territory, or a state where the government has disowned them because they are a minority. In the medical journal Acta Paediatrica, child psychiatrist Göran Bodegård describes children with resignation syndrome as “totally passive, immobile, lacking tonus, withdrawn, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent and not reacting to physical stimuli or pain”. It is difficult to imagine the amount of aggression or hostility these children must have witnessed; they would rather die than go back to the hell they escaped from.

While there is no dearth of compassion in human beings, it often seems like there is none.

Dr Nisha Alosious, a US-based psychiatrist, spoke to Soulveda about the humanitarian crisis faced by refugees today—which is second to only World War II—and what we can do to support these children. “Most of the refugee children are helpless, as their parents are neither educated nor capable of protecting their children from the curse of war and violence,” she explains. “As a society, we should educate parents on child abuse and violence against children, and extend support to families seeking asylum,” Dr Alosious adds.

Isolated in a culture that can’t relate to their traumas, refugee children find little help from the world that can get too busy to care. But it is not as if these children just need a roof over their heads to be safe from violence and aggression. Many incidents of child abuse occur within the confines of these very walls. These acts of physical, sexual and emotional maltreatment not only steal the innocence of children but also strip them of their voice and confidence. A study conducted by King’s College London supports the notion that multiple personality disorder in adults can be a result of traumatic childhood experiences. This shows how deep the scars of abuse can run in children.

Protecting refugee children from aggression and violence, therefore, becomes a critical pursuit. But how often does such a cause find support on the grassroots level? It is on the front lines of society where such battles need to be fought. So, what stands in the way?

While there is no dearth of compassion in human beings, it often seems like there is none. The race of life and immediate concerns leave little room to think about issues that don’t concern us directly. But to address the blight of issues like child abuse, there needs to be an increased sense of empathy. Countless children like Djeneta and Ibadeta, are still waiting for people to feel their grief, to lend them a helping hand, and to grant them the peaceful lives they deserve to live.

Holistic wellbeing: 19 small shifts in life for a big change

holistic

Who doesn’t want the best of everything in life? A fit body, a youthful glow, a great job that your friends envy you for, a huge bank balance, a travel itinerary that puts a pilot to shame, a marriage made-in-heaven, a harmonious relationship, a soulmate, a happy family, a perpetually positive state of mind, eternal happiness, and a large Instagram following. Yet, are you among those who are constantly fretting about their weight gain or loss, stagnating at work, perpetually broke, stuck in a listless marriage, mired in negativity, and feel disconnected from yourself? Then, according to Gallup’s 2018 Global Emotions Report, you could be one among every three unhappy people in the world.

Despite the abundance of opportunities, options, money and material, we are still an unhappy lot. Our lives are more complicated than ever before, leading to unprecedented physiological, mental, and emotional issues, and a complete lack of inner peace. So, what do we do to address the above? Typically, we isolate the problem, compartmentalise issues, and address them individually. Little do we realise that isolating an interconnected issue can seldom lead to a lasting solution. For instance, what you do to become physically fit contributes almost instantly to your mental and spiritual wellness as well. Hence, the ideal approach to address an issue is what the modern-day enthusiast calls ‘holistic’—encompassing the mind, body, and spirit. Through this piece, Soulveda presents a perspective shift that is rather imperative—from a healthy lifestyle to holistic wellbeing.

The first step towards holistic wellbeing begins with knowing what it means. Holistic wellbeing is a ubiquitous concept that stands on the pillars of the mind, body, and spirit. The mind is the reflection of your emotional state; the body is about your physical health and longevity; and spiritual wellness is your connection with your inner self, your sense of right and wrong, and your perception of the world around you. It is this connection which can become a source of happiness and inner peace. How do you go about achieving this much-talked-about holistic wellbeing? Subject matter experts say, the answer lies in minor adjustments in your daily life.

Get up close and personal

It is important to connect with like-minded, positive people. Family, friends, and colleagues provide the support and enrichment needed for emotional wellness. Make time every other week to have a meal, go for coffee, play a game of scrabble with friends, ask for support when you are down and out, network with neighbours and colleagues for noble causes. Face-to-face conversations with a diverse set of people enhance your intellectual, mental, emotional as well as social wellbeing. In an age of screens and virtual interactions, personal connection is an even greater necessity for holistic wellbeing.

Laugh away

Make it a point to laugh. Hone your sense of humour so you can laugh at yourself, your follies and make other people laugh as well. Laugh for no reason at all. Don’t take life too seriously, make laughter a part of your daily life to have a healthy emotional balance. “I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing,” aptly says Dr Madan Kataria, Founder of Laughter Yoga.

Don’t let stress get the better of you

Wake up early, cook a meal, rush to work, miss the bus, sit through long meetings, navigate through numerous messages, pick up your child from school, get the leaking tap fixed, fulfil social commitments, and the list goes on. The 21st century lifestyle goes hand in hand with stress. While stress begins in the mind, its collateral damage is largely physical. Conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, weight gain, and reduced energy levels are some of the initial blows from this invisible enemy. So, how to defeat an enemy you can’t see? Do something for your body that benefits the mind—go for a run, practise yoga, meditate twice a day, get a massage, listen to music.

Self-help is the best help

Someone wise once said, “You are the best person to help yourself.” Self-help has emerged as one of the most powerful tools for personal growth in the last decade. Reading books, talking to your friends, learning a new skill, cultivating a new habit, pursuing your passion are a few ways to do so. After all, no one can help you like you can help ‘you’.

Emotions are not the boss of you

Emotions are the strongest impetus behind every human interaction and achievement. Be it positive, life-affirming emotions or those that corrode your spirit. They lie at the heart of the highs and lows of life. But what happens when these emotions start ruling you? They rob you of reason and rationality. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s only human. Address the problem, don’t brush it under the carpet. Be aware of what’s going on within, accept that there is an issue that requires external help. If you can’t handle the maelstrom of emotions, seek help.

Let’s get real

The heart may want what it wants. But it may not always set itself on what’s realistic or plausible. You are the only one aware of your reality, and therefore, only you can set yourself achievable goals that are right for you. Being passionate is a boon, but passion does not mean having unrealistic expectations from yourself. More often than not, your emotional wellbeing suffers on account of unrealistic or unfair expectations you set for yourself and those around you. Whether it is relationships, love, or the professional sphere of life, the key is in being realistic, pragmatic, and balancing your emotions with wisdom.

Indulge in a digital detox

Life, today, revolves around gadgets and technology. Neither adults nor children can imagine a world without gadgets. According to A Decade of Digital Dependency, a 2018 report, an average adult in the UK spends more than 24 hours a week online watching, reading or surfing social media channels. In India, the figure stands at 17 hours per week, according to a McKinsey Digital report. No wonder, “not having enough time” has become a cliché. We spend most of our time staring at screens as we walk, eat, and commute.

The internet is flooded with studies that indicate exposure to gadgets is increasingly impacting mental health and emotional wellbeing. As a study conducted by the University of Texas indicates, staying away from those gadgets improves focus, attention span, and cognitive capacity. If you find yourself complaining about the increasingly short attention span people have, you might want to start with yourself.

For digital detoxification: turn off your Wi-Fi and keep your phone away at bedtime, shut down your laptop once you are home after work, fix timings to check those Facebook and Twitter notifications, put your phone in silent mode, spend time with your family and friends without the smartphone, go on a nature trail where there is no mobile network, pay attention to people, soak in the joy and beauty of being in nature.

If you successfully conduct this detox once, the next time around would be a breeze. You are sure to feel lighter, without the digital bandwidth intruding your personal time, while you will still have the ‘bandwidth’ to do what you love and pursue your goals.

Your attitude matters

It is easy to be caught in the quagmire of low self-esteem, insecurity, fear of loss and inadequacy in the competitive world we live in today. An endless loop of complaining, whining, justifying the negativity ensues. So, what do you do? Self-help wisdom dictates you sieve out the negative and cherish the positive. A healthy, optimistic attitude can make all the difference to your mental and emotional wellbeing. As Maya Angelou rightly said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Indulge in positive thoughts, be grateful for the incidents and experiences that bring you happiness, and appreciate the difficult circumstances for they forge you into becoming stronger. You are responsible for your own wellbeing, your emotional and mental harmony. Wellness experts say, becoming someone else’s strength makes you stronger and more content. Be the sunshine in someone else’s life, even when you can’t see the sun yourself.

Shut down your mind

Good sleep is as important to the body, as the need to wake up every morning feeling fresh. But it will remain a distant dream if you are awake well past 2 am. Essential for holistic wellbeing, sound sleep allows the mind to temporarily shut down, providing the much-needed relaxation, that is otherwise, hard to come by. Set a strict bedtime, stay true to the good old adage—‘early to bed, early to rise’. If possible, take a nap during the day. A power nap can refresh the mind anew. The golden rule to sleep well—avoid stimulants such as coffee, chocolates, and cigarettes at least four hours before you go to sleep.

As you struggle to change your sleep habit and crib about the hard work, remember Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, is the twin brother of Thanatos, the god of death. It just might be the motivation you need.

Change your palate

Do you love to eat? Are you a poor eater? Or do you eat just to survive? Whatever be your relationship with food, junk food forms a large part of it. Not only is it hard to quit, junk food is addictive, and at times, as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Hearing the mention of the foods we love in the same breath as two of the most dangerous drugs does scare the glutton away. But, sooner or later the cravings are back. So, what do you do to clean up that nasty eating habit? Take the bold step forward—change that palate. Drink a vegetable smoothie if you don’t like eating vegetables, eat a fruit, don’t juice it. Have a fistful of dry fruit instead of a pack of potato chips. Cut sugar out, and do it with a pinch of salt.

Work those motor skills

The path to holistic wellbeing goes through a healthy body. Some people tread this path by running every morning at first light, some love lifting weights in a gym, and others go for a swim in cold water. But what about those who do not have the time, endurance, or sometimes, even physical ability to follow such fitness regimens? Is holistic wellbeing a far-fetched goal for them? Certainly not.

Time, endurance, and physical ability of a person notwithstanding, there are disciplines and practices that bring together the three pillars of holistic wellbeing—the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga, for instance, is one such ancient discipline that harmonises the body and the mind inside out. Despite having some of the most difficult physical poses or asanas, yoga can be practised at any age, allowing the endurance level to evolve. Tai Chi, on the other hand, can be performed even with disabilities. Even in a wheelchair, you can practice this Chinese discipline to achieve the seemingly-elusive holistic wellbeing.

Manage your pH level

What does a healthy body constitute? Well, many things. But all of what it constitutes begins with the most fundamental aspect of the body—the pH level. Put simply, the pH level is nothing but a measure of acidity or alkalinity in the body. The more balanced the pH level, the healthier the body. Eating right is the first step in maintaining a perfect balance. Well, almost.

Numerous studies suggest that foods which are acidic in nature are associated with heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity, while alkaline foods such as fruits, raw vegetables are linked with enhanced memory, better cognition, weight regulation, and suppression of cardiovascular ailments.  Aerated drinks, coffee, alcohol, ketchup, mayonnaise, canned food, peanut butter, processed food, are, needless to say, highly acidic.

To balance your pH levels, start your day with a fruit or water—30 minutes before you eat your breakfast. When hungry between meals, drink a glass of water first. Often, we think we are hungry, when we are, in fact, thirsty. Kick off one new habit—drink green tea. Green tea, arguably the most therapeutic beverage of all, is high in the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) that is known to improve immunity and longevity as shown by various studies. So, don’t just go green, drink green.

Soak in the morning sun

Wellbeing has an obvious connection with the sun. Exposure to sunlight, while also known to cause skin ageing and cancer, does you more good than harm. Soaking in the sun enhances the absorption of vitamin D ensuring stronger and healthier bones and muscles. Experts believe, moderate exposure to the sun can prevent cancer and skin conditions such as psoriasis. As opposed to the grey skies, sunshine takes away the blues, elevates your happiness quotient.

Hit a home run

Physical wellbeing is the key to mental and emotional wellbeing. Among the very many ways to achieve physical health, sports top the list. Playing a sport not only keeps you physically fit, but also immune from diseases. Sports teaches some of the greatest life lessons such as teamwork, discipline, endurance, the ability to accept defeat, and fair play. Such are the values that contribute to mental and emotional wellbeing. Playing a sport is like a one-size-fits-all solution that keeps your body healthy, and you happy. So, what are you waiting for? Go, hit it out of the park!

What’s your life’s purpose?

Holistic wellbeing and spiritual fulfilment go hand in hand. Spiritual fulfilment is intricately connected with having a sense of purpose. What does life mean to you? How do you envisage your role in this world? As a parent, someone’s child, life partner or caregiver, you have a deeper purpose than what you see on the surface. Your ability to live a holistically healthy life is intricately connected with your spiritual fulfilment. Spiritual fulfilment comes from a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose puts things into perspective amid the chaos of life. It inspires a transformed approach to living life. Some people follow beliefs and practices to find the meaning and purpose in their lives. Some find a worthy cause, a reason to live and contribute to.

Step outside that comfort zone

Humans are creatures of habit. And, habits create a comfort zone. Getting into a comfort zone is easy, stepping out of it takes the wind out of your sails. Change doesn’t come easy, unless necessary. Do the uncomfortable, stretch yourself beyond your imagination. No one ever lost the extra flab by doing five repetitions of an exercise when the body required 20. Training the mind for what it is not used to doing builds not only mental strength but also spiritual growth.

Acceptance is key to spiritual growth

Acceptance is key to spiritual growth. Accepting the inevitable doesn’t come easy. It takes courage and resilience to accept what we don’t like. It is hard to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, but once achieved, this mindset ensures disappointments doesn’t leave you dejected. Philosophers and spiritual leaders often attribute happiness to accepting that you are responsible for your own happiness. Depending on others to be happy or blaming someone else for your unhappiness takes you only farther from happiness and spiritual fulfilment.

Forgiving cleanses the soul

To err is human, to forgive is divine. Who hasn’t grown up hearing this adage? Forgiving is cathartic for one who chooses to forgive. Forgiving needs courage and magnanimity. While it may be far from easy to forgive those who hurt us, forgiving is healthy. It creates ripples of calmness, wellbeing and spiritual fulfilment within. Holding a grudge only deepens the wound, instigating negative emotions. Forgiving someone else is just one part of the story. Forgiving yourself is equally important for spiritual growth. As long as you learn your lessons from your mistakes never to repeat them, there is no need to self-flagellate. Forgiveness is liberating.

Mind over matter

Spiritual wellness is about connecting to your greater self, the higher self. It’s about becoming bigger than your challenges and problems, truly becoming the master of your mind. How does one go about this seemingly far-fetched, tough task? Practising mindfulness is the answer, conclude the wise. Take this wisdom to your daily life­—in the quiet of the morning every day, sit alone and introspect, cut out all the mental noise and the noise from the external world, focus on the here and now; let go of the past—you don’t live there anymore; and don’t dwell in the future—it isn’t here yet.

The clock ticks at the same speed for everyone, there are 24 hours for each of us, and we all live on the same planet. What we do with our time while we are alive, how we spend our daily life, and how we create our own world on this very planet, decides the ultimate achievement of the life we’ve led. While these are big ideals to hold, they need small shifts. They allow you to become the best version of yourself.

Holistic wellbeing and spiritual solace may appear to be extraordinary goals, but they are achievable by ordinary people like you and me, and everyone else. The journey to achieve them begins with small steps, small shifts in the way we see the world and live our life. These small shifts culminate into big changes, so much so that even when you’ve come a long way, you feel as if your journey has only just begun.

Lean Vs Six Sigma: Are they different or compliment each other?

Lean-vs-six-sigma (1)

In the rising complexities of globalized business, if you are struggling to improve business operations and seeking a long haul business success, your business has left out with no option other than to optimize the business performance through analytical problem-solving approach and also to adopt proven breakthrough methodologies that multiply your ROI.

Are you in a struggle to optimize your business processes, cost and delivery? If so, it’s now high time for your business to adopt the most effective organization process improvement methodologies to meet your business goals and increase profits within this highly competitive business market.

If you are wondering what’s next?

Here’s your business game changer!

Can Lean and Six Sigma be an invaluable resource to achieve your business goals and improve the bottom line?

The answer is, Of course, “Yes”. But how? Let’s see here!

Lean and Six Sigma do both have similarities and differences.  There are debates also as to which is better when it comes to applications in real-world scenarios for business process improvements.  To understand this better, we can relate this specific to a context.

Lean Thinking and Six Sigma essentially have the same primary goal from a business perspective.  Only focus, steps of implementation and approach is different.

Lean Thinking Approach

Lean is a methodology similar to Six Sigma used by organizations to optimize their business processes.  It emphasized the need for zero waste ideal and for delivering value to the customers.

Traditional organizations are rated to be having more than 95% of waste in the processes as per Lean terminology. Less than 5% of Value-adding activities are seen.  Value Stream mapping is one of the key tools used to identify waste activities and value-adding activities.

More importantly, lean focuses on achieving the results through Total Employee involvement right from top management to Housekeeping staff.  Lean is also called Toyota Production System or TPS.

For achieving superior results, tools such as Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment, Kaizen, 5S with Visual Management, Quick Change-over or SMED, Load levelling or Heijunka are deployed for effective execution.

Seven Steps Academy is one of the best training centers to get trained in Lean and Six Sigma. The faculties are really knowledgeable, and they make you learn with their
experiences. Myself after completing the training decided to work in this domain in future. They also give tips on how to pass the exam from ASQ. if you want to become a complete Lean Six Sigma professional, do the course from ASQ and Seven Steps Academy and pass the exam and get certified.

Company’s standing – and your own – in the business world

In this process, Lean methodologies are applied initially with proven similar tools such as Total Productive Maintenance and Theory of Constraints. Upon ensuring stability and good performance, Six Sigma concepts are parallel introduced to the processes for enhanced business results.

Seven Steps Academy helps in providing both In-house and public training programs in the field of Lean Six Sigma, Lean manufacturing, Lean Hospitals, Lean Construction, Lean Services, Lean Hospitality.  Hands on support through onsite deployment of these methodologies is done through another vertical of Seven Steps Global Group.. Seven Steps Business Transformation Systems. From decades of experience in deploying Lean and Six Sigma in various industry segments, Seven Steps Business Transformation System recommends the usage of a combined methodology such as Lean Six Sigma.

Many professionals focus on core technical jobs at the entry-level jobs.  As they progress in the ladder of professional development, knowledge of advanced tools such as Lean Six Sigma helps them to be more effective to perform the jobs and to lead their teams.

How Do the Effects of Postpartum Depression Manifest?

Depression 2

The adjustment to motherhood can be very stressful as you learn to navigate your new role, balancing care for yourself and an infant (and possibly other children and family members). This can be demanding, exhausting and overwhelming. If you are a new mom with feelings of anxiety or depression, you may even feel guilty or ashamed. It is important to know that postpartum depression is not your fault. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that can be treated. By sharing your feelings with a professional, you will be on your way to making positive changes that will have a big impact on your daily well-being.

Treatment and recovery time vary, depending on the severity of post-partum depression and individual needs. If person is having an underactive thyroid or an underlying illness, Doctor may treat those conditions or refer that individual to the appropriate specialist. Treating doctor may also refer you to a mental health professional.

Baby blues


The baby blues usually fade on their own within a few days to one to two weeks. In the meantime:

  • Get as much rest as you can.
  • Accept help from family and friends.
  • Connect with other new moms.
  • Create time to take care of yourself.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can make mood swings worse.

Postpartum depression


Postpartum depression is often treated with psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or mental health counselling), medication or both.

  • Psychotherapy. It may help to talk through your concerns with a psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist or other mental health professional. Through therapy, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.
  • Antidepressants. Psychiatrists may recommend an antidepressant or other medications according to the need of an individuals. If you’re breast-feeding, any medication you take will enter your breast milk. However, most antidepressants can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects for your baby. Work with your treating doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).  Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a form of brain stimulation therapy used to treat depression, anxiety, OCD and post-partum depression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved rTMS as a treatment for major depression when other treatments haven’t been effective. The most qualified candidates for rTMS are people with depression who haven’t had success with other methods. Researches has suggested rTMS is really effective in treating cases of Post-Partum Depression.

With appropriate treatment, postpartum depression symptoms usually improve. In some cases, postpartum depression can continue, becoming chronic depression. It’s important to continue treatment after you begin to feel better. Stopping treatment too early may lead to a relapse

Postpartum psychosis


Postpartum psychosis requires immediate treatment, usually in the hospital. Treatment may include:

  • Medication. Treatment may require a combination of medications — such as antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers and benzodiazepines — to control your signs and symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If your postpartum depression is severe and you experience postpartum psychosis, ECT may be recommended if symptoms do not respond to medication. ECT is a procedure in which small electrical currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and depression, especially when other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Treatment for postpartum psychosis can challenge a mother’s ability to breast-feed. Separation from the baby makes breast-feeding difficult, and some medications used to treat postpartum psychosis aren’t recommended for women who are breast-feeding. If you’re experiencing postpartum psychosis, your treating doctor can help you work through these challenges.