Your Mental Health is More Important Than Your Grades

It is estimated that an alarming 62% of students are marinating in toxic anxiety. I came across this article by Kristen Lee Costa which is headlined “Your Mental Health is More Important Than Your Grades” I wholeheartedly agree with it!

She points out 5 key lessons to keep in mind if you or someone you love is in the throes of college-related stress:

  1. Know that education is a privilege.
  2. Don’t scratch that ridiculous perfectionism itch.
  3. Resist the bait of imposter syndrome.
  4. Become a time management ninja.
  5. Remember you’re not alone.

The article has details on each of the points and then some more.

"V.M. Doroshevich-East and War-Student of University of Madras" by Uncredited photographer - Page 113 from the book Vlas Mikhailovich Doroshevich «East and War», Moscow. Sytin publisher, 1905.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

Self harm – Alternate behaviors

Since year 2000 there has been a steady rise of self harm behaviour in teens1. Trying to replace self-harm with something less harmful works for some people. Encourage the young person to try a few of these to see if they work for them:

  • Wait 15 minutes before self harming
  • Hold ice cubes in their hand – cold causes pain but is not dangerous to their health
  • Wear rubber bands on their wrist to flick themselves when they feel like hurting themselves
  • Use a red pen to draw on the areas they might normally cut
  • Work it off with exercise, do something they enjoy
  • Eat a chilli
  • Take a deep breath and count to 10 or try deep breathing and relaxation exercises
  • Try to focus on something around them, something simple, watch it for a while and see if that can distract them from the negative thoughts
  • Talk to someone
  • Write in a journal, draw or express feelings in another way

Fly high!
Fly high!

From self downing to self acceptance!

One of the roadblocks that many people face on the path to happiness is self downing. In Self downing you believe that you are not good enough. This in some sets of a chain reaction of irrational demands leading to unhealthy negative emotions and self defeating behaviours.
From self downing to self acceptance

A simple thumb rule to know that a demand you are making from yourself is irrational by noting if the statement echoing in your head has a must in it. This is what Albert Ellis called “Musterbation” A few patterns of musterbation often seen are

  • I must be more successful
  • I should be more skilful
  • I must be more popular
  • I must not fail
  • I must be better than I am

These demands lead to being

  • Ashamed about what we see as our lack of success
  • Embarrassed about what we see as our lack of competence
  • Afraid of what other people think of us
  • Afraid to attempt some of the things we want to do
  • Depressed because of our “un-worthiness”

The cure for self downing is not self elevation but self acceptance. You can achieve self acceptance if you change your demands into preferences. Add to the preference a second part which negates the demand you are making on your self. Usually the two parts of your thought will be joined by the word “but”. Moving along with the examples which I presented above, an alternative to each of the demands would be

  • I would prefer to be more successful but it is not a must that I be more successful.
  • I would like to be more skilful but there is no proof that I have to be more skilful.
  • It would be nice to be more popular but  it is OK if I am not popular.
  • I don’t want to fail but I am human and at times I can fail.
  • There are some things about me that I would like to improve but there is no proof that I must improve those things.

If you are thinking easier said than done then you are right but with practice it becomes easier. Remember the objective here is to give yourself a leeway without giving up on yourself. Once you have broken the wall of demandingness the path to self acceptance becomes more achievable.

Photo: I am stronger, Teen Depression by Hopeless Lavender

Beginning Therapy? Some tips to remember…

Beginning Therapy? Just the fact that you have decided to seek help of a therapist is a huge step forward towards your emotional well being. REBT is generally short term and often didactic. To make the best out of your sessions I would like to suggest a few tips which will help you maximise the benefits.

Begining Therapy

I have taken Anxiety as an example disorder here but I am sure that these tips will apply to many things that you choose to apply it to. However if any of the following seems daunting or in itself induces anxiety let it be, your therapist will guide you 🙂

Have an agenda

Know why you are going to the therapist. That one thing that makes you most anxious and you would like to change – set that as a goal. Try to picture your life minus that anxiety. If you have in your mind a clear picture of how you would like your life to be if you were free of anxiety,you will know what you are working towards. Share your ideas with your therapist so that he or she can help you reach your goals. Setting goals gives impetus to change.

You have to make it work

Results from therapy are not a given fact nor are they automatic. You are the one who has to make therapy work for you. Like everything else in life you can only get out what you put in. Effort is required if any significant changes are to take places. If you have been prey to anxiety for a long time. It will take time and effort to isolate old thought patterns and develop ways to counteract and modify them but it will happen if you try.

Practice will make you better

Practice! Practice!! Practice!!! Be conscientious in the use of techniques learned in therapy. Just remember that whatever you are doing is worth doing and if it is worth doing, it is also worth it to not do it well. Yes, sounds confusing but it simply means that do not let a few bad tries pull you down.

No one is forever free of emotional problems, but you will realise that anxiety need not dominate your existence.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself for your actions. If you feel that something did not go very well try to grade your success and then reward yourself proportionately. Permit yourself the pleasure of feeling excited about exploring new ways to meet life’s challenges. You have shown the initiative to seek help, this indicates that there is a lively spark of hope and expectation within you. As therapy progresses and anxiety recedes, that spark of hope will kindle a new enthusiasm for daily living.

Therapist is not the only one

You are not alone. Your own extended family, relatives, friends, coworkers and others interested in your well-being are all potential participants in yours progress. Learn to call upon them for understanding and help. Usually these significant others experience favorable changes in their own lives when they are called upon to help another. Seek out support groups in your area. If you are in Nagpur, you are in luck – Participate in Happy Hour Discussion group.

Photo: “PressureSensitiveStartingBlocks” by Andrew Hecker.

Basic Values and Goals Of REBT

Goals and Values of REBT
My previous post on ABC & D of REBT evoked a much more enthusiastic response than I anticipated with call for more information about REBT. I am reproducing here the basic values and goals of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) as espoused by Albert Ellis. Hope this will help in further realising what REBT is and aims for…

  1. SELF-INTEREST: Sensible and emotionally healthy people tend to be first or primarily interested in themselves. They tend to put their own interests at least a little above the interests of others. They sacrifice themselves to some degree for those for whom they care, but not overwhelmingly or completely.
  2. SOCIAL INTEREST: Social interest is usually rational and self-helping because most people choose to live and enjoy themselves in a social group or community. If they do not act morally, protect the rights of others, and abet social survival, it is unlikely they will create the kind of world in which they themselves can live comfortably and happily.
  3. SELF-DIRECTION: Healthy people tend to mainly assume responsibility for their own lives while simultaneously preferring to cooperate with others. They do not need or demand considerable support or succoring from others.
  4. HIGH FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE: Rational individuals have the ability to tolerate or withstand a great deal of difficulty or discomfort in their lives without making themselves emotionally disturbed about it. From this perspective, they are prepared to tolerate frustration because it is worth doing so to obtain their goals. They are able to accept grim reality and seek to distinguish between adverse events they can change and those they cannot.
  5. FLEXIBILITY: Healthy and mature individuals tend to be flexible in their thinking and open to change. They tend to be unbigoted and pluralistic in their view of other people. They do not make rigid, invariant rules for themselves and others.
  6. Continue reading Basic Values and Goals Of REBT


I got on to Secret app a while ago. I did not expect to find anything unusual other than the rants about workplaces, brags about sexual escapades or vice versa. What disturbed me was the number of my friends who were posting distressing messages about being depressed, feeling sad or feeling hopeless. Some more serious than others. I have tried to suggest therapy to all of them but the most common refrain I heard was…

  1.  I don’t want to share my past and
  2.  It is a very slow process taking years.

No it is not so! It is not so specially if you go to a REBT practitioner.

REBT (pronounced R.E.B.T not rebbit) stands for Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy. Created and Developed by Albert Ellis, REBT does not focus much on your past events but more on your present state of emotions and disturbances. It has a very easy to understand model for psychological and emotional disturbances which is very aptly called the ABC of REBT. I first came across this model when I consulted Dr. Shishir Palsapure of MorphicMinds a couple of years ago for what I feared was a Major Clinical Depression (It was not. I was merely upset.) I was so blown away by the directness and effectiveness of the method that I started to study REBT as an interest to better understand how human cognition works and now I can apply its principles in almost everything I do.

So what is the ABC model?

A – Adversity or Activating event
B – Belief you have about the event
C – Consequence

Continue reading ABC & D of REBT